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Friday, September 25, 2015

Ontario Trails News - Niagara Builds trails and francophone Group retraces route

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Francophone group retraces historic hike and canoe route

Christian Bode, left, president of the Société d’histoire de Toronto, led his group on the 65-kilometre, three-day journey, which concluded with a celebration of francophone and aboriginal history at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Parkette on Riverside Dr. in the Swansea neighbourhood

MELISSA RENWICK / TORONTO STAR Order this photo
Christian Bode, left, president of the Société d’histoire de Toronto, led his group on the 65-kilometre, three-day journey, which concluded with a celebration of francophone and aboriginal history at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Parkette on Riverside Dr. in the Swansea neighbourhood
Fourteen lovers of history came together this weekend to trace the ancient route taken by French explorer Étienne Brûlé, who was the first known European to travel the Lake Ontario region with the Huron-Wendat in September 1615.
Led by Christian Bode, president of the Société d’histoire de Toronto, the group paddled and hiked roughly 65 kilometres over three days, following the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail from Holland Marsh, south of Lake Simcoe, to the Swansea neighbourhood on the east bank of the Humber River.
“Sometimes it’s lost in suburbia, sometimes it’s there, and sometimes you have to reroute,” Bode said of the trail, which is estimated to have been travelled for up to 8,000 years.
“What has impressed me is not the fact that we walked the whole way, but that everywhere we went we were welcomed sincerely.”
Bode said Brûlé’s quest into Huron-Wendat territory 400 years ago was a seminal event; the Frenchman grew familiar with the routes of the landscape and learned the aboriginals’ language, which facilitated future fur-trade excursions and the infiltration of the area by Jesuit missionaries.
Ever since, Bode said, “there has been a French presence in the province of Ontario.”
The weekend of re-enactments of Brûlé’s travels started Friday, when the group canoed the first stretch in Lake Couchiching and attended a ceremony at the Champlain Monument, named for the man who founded Quebec City in 1608 — then capital of New France — and commissioned Brûlé to help explore and chart the Great Lakes region. The group also attended the opening of a new pavilion that was dedicated to the local Ojibwa.
As Bode’s history buffs resumed their hike south of Lake Simcoe on Saturday and made their way southwest, they planted a tree in East Gwillimbury, took in a French choir performance at a Newmarket farmer’s market, lunched with the local mayor at the Aurora Armoury, unveiled a new plaque to the Carrying-Place Trail in Vaughan and finally made their way to Swansea.
The hike concluded Sunday with a celebration of francophone and aboriginal history at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Parkette on Riverside Dr., with actors dressed in the garb of the early 17th century and an unveiling of a moccasin project for the occasion by Garry Sault, an Ojibwa elder with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

Niagara Trails Committee Builds Trail