Andrew Hunter’s work has held up very well since 1909

He spent 30 years documenting first nations activity in the Barrie area.

Hunter Andrew sitting

He identifies three kinds of Huron remains: village sites, burial pits and trails in the forest.

THEIR BURIALS

With many of the more important villages in the Huron country there are associated ossuaries, or bone-pits. since the year 1819, when Simcoe County first began to receive European settlers, discoveries of Huron ossuaries have been constantly taking place. The number of these discovered and undiscovered, has been variously estimated; more than one hundred and fifty have already been excavated by different persons, but chiefly by the farmers. As to the number of skeletons in each pit, a great diversity exists. The ossuary of average size contains about three hundred, but a few have been found in the Townships of Tay and Tiny containing, at a moderate estimate, more than a thousand, while others contain less than a dozen. These, however, are exceptional cases. The Hurons selected light, sandy soil, almost invariably for the pits, clearly because they had no good implements for digging heavy soil.

The Huron mode of burial resembled in some respects that of the Sioux, Blackfeet, and other North-west tribes of our own day. The body was placed, after death, upon a scaffold supported by four upright poles. At regular intervals of time the skeletons were collected for the scaffolds and buried in a large pit dug for the purpose.

Brebeuf’s account of the burial ceremony, (Relations des Jesuites, 1636), has been fully confirmed by excavation of the ossuaries.

THE FOREST TRAILS

The third class of Huron remains – the trails – have been singularly preserved from obliteration by succeeding Algonquin tribes. These tribes followed the original trials that were used by the Hurons in the seventeenth century, and kept them open down to the clearing of the forest by the white settlers. Our knowledge of the location of these rails comes chiefly from pioneers of the district, who themselves used the trails before opening the present public roads. From the fact that the sites of the Huron villages are now found along the same trails, it is clear that the paths recently closed were the original Huron trials.

 — A History of Simcoe County, Andrew F. Hunter, 1909, p 4 – 6.

Heritage plaque in front of the McLaren Art Centre in Barrie.

Hunter plaque

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