The Gathering Places 4

IV) Gathering Area 4 – TH 7 – Brampton Street/Globe Park

Setting: Circle of Trees – Recalling Woodhedge

This is the most barren of location, the site of former land fills and the transition from uplands to wetlands. The circle of trees will be like an art installation – a way of reclaiming the spirit of the land.

It was not far from here that two old Aboriginal paths crossed. One brought people down from the escarpment to favorite fishing spots on the bay or lake. Another path flowed the shore line and connected the village of the north shore with those all the way to the Niagara River. Mohawk leader Joseph Brant would have crossed nearby by many times.

This was the site of the convergence of three older Indigenous trails used during the 1700s. One was called the Mississauga Trail, running from York (Toronto) to Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake); another was the Joseph Brant trail used to travel to and from his home on Burlington Bay; and the third was from Burlington sand strip to present-day John Street, at the foot of the escarpment then onward to Lake Erie.  During the War of 1812, the Inn was destroyed by advancing American troops.

Once the Six Nations Reserve was established in the 18th century, Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse) families would take the trail from the Grand River to the Red Hill Valley, set up temporary fishing camps and stay as long as the fish runs were bountiful. Suckers, trout and salmon were the fish caught most often.

King’s Head Inn

In 1794 Governor Simcoe had a hotel constructed on the beach on the other side of the creek. The eight-room King’s Head Inn was Hamilton’s first public building.

It also served as a tavern and rest stop along the Lake Ontario shoreline trail. It was also known as the Court House, Government House and was used as a military depot.

Local Fishing

Fishing by Indigenous communities and settler communities was an important part of the local economy. Freshwater fish provided essential nutrients and contributed to a healthier diet. The ancient land trails and early Loyalist settler patterns show that this area was rich in fishing resources.

Peter Campbell, English traveler who wrote of the Hamilton area: “The snow was about ten inches deep on the ice. Here I saw several Indians of the Messessagoe nation fishing for pickerel, mashanogy, pike and other kinds of fish.” (Travels in New Brunswick in 1791 and 1792, HHC 1951, p.14)