Whatever happened to the human remains of 300 First Nations men, women and children that were discovered in 1865?

August 1, 2013

Two published sources.

Dr. Coutts’ paternal grandfather was named Duncan (see D. Coutts on the south west corner of Pooles Road and Concession 2).

(1) Century Farms

An Indian Village On the Coutts Farm

In the Midhurst area, several villages of the Huron branch of the Iroquoian Family have been located. The Willow Creek area probably still contains sites yet undiscovered. Waterways, such as the Willow, were good means of travel for these people.

Indians of several nations lived in the Mistrust area. Some lived only a short time and moved on. However, the Huron lived here for some time in palisaded villages.

On the Coutts’ farm on Conc. 2, there must have been a village. About 1902, when my father ploughed the east field, we boys followed and found many clay pipes, broken stems, wampums, and utensils for skinning animals. On Fall, when our hired man left, he took a full box of our best artifacts.

Descendants of Ojibway and Hurons from Rama and Christian Island visited Willow Creek and Little Lake in the early 1900s. They would come in the warmer months and build several wigwams. The men would hunt and trap and the women would make baskets and napkin holders and come up the concession to sell door-to-door.  They sometimes camped in the pastures. Some of the men, for a while, would work as hired hands.

I remember on Indian man coming to our farm and asking my father for Kish-Kosh, which meant ‘pig’. Another Indian was Julie Ann Simcoe, whose father was a preacher. She sang in the choir at the local church.

I also remember an old Indian from the Rama Reserve, who used to sit on a bench at the market place in Orillia on Saturday, shopping day. Here is the order he classified people: ‘white man, Indian dog, nigger!” Guess he didn’t know about discrimination.

About the year 1865, my oldest uncle, and his father, Duncan Coutts, opened a large Indian grave about a half mile west of the old village. Three hundred skeletons were found men, women and children. Some had beads around their necks. The bones were well-preserved. On Sunday, horse and buggies stretched for a mile almost, to see the grave.

— Dr. Wallace Coutts, 1984

Excerpt: A History of Vespra Township, The Vespra Township Council, Allan Anderson & Betty Tomlinson Anderson, Editors, 1987, p. 68.

(2) Chapter Nine: The People of Midhurst


Duncan Coutts married Margaret McHardy. They came to Canada in 1856 and bought Lot 20, Concession 2, Vespra Township from Mr. Michie. Fifteen acres were cleared at the time. A log cabin also existed…

In the year 1865 a large bone pit was discovered and opened on the farm. About 300 skeletons were counted. There were not only warriors but it included women and children also. At another field many Indian relics were found when the field was ploughed. Skinning bones, wambum (sic) and many clay pipes were among the finds. This farm is now operated as a dairy farm by Ron and Helen Coutts, the 4th Generation to work the farm…

Second Excerpt and Map: Pioneer History of Midhurst, The Midhurst Historical Society, 1975. (Dr. Coutts, Editor, p. 3, excerpt p. 80, Map inside back page)


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