The human history of the moraine began to unfold with the arrival of nomadic people passing through in search of caribou and plentiful fish in the moraine's clear clean waters. For the next 10,500 years, human occupation and use of the moraine remained largely nomadic with travel over waterways fed from the moraine supporting native trade routes.

Loyalist Flag - United Empire

Eventually seasonal occupations were sustained through longer periods of time as agricultural methods improved. This allowed first nations people to establish more permanent villages supported by increasing storage of corn, beans and squash over the winter months. At roughly the same time, European explorers and then fur-traders began to arrive, and to utilize the many trails across the moraine that had been part of an existing trade culture for centuries. The Carrying Place Trail, still evident in King Township, is one such trail.

Contact with Europeans resulted in drastic reduction of native populations due to disease and then warfare – as the Ojibwa and Iroquois nations in particular aligned with various of the French and British asserting ownership over New France and Upper and Lower Canada. Those that remained had to compete for land with the exploding European population. For example, the Anishinabeg (Mississauga) people of the Ojibwa (also known as Chippewa) were under pressure to relocate and moved into the area east of Rice Lake, now known as Alderville.

Learn more about the Alderville First Nation, their history and their life on the Moraine today.

In the late 1700's, the United Empire Loyalists arrived on the Moraine, introducing the concept of land ownership for the first time. One condition of many land grants to Loyalists was that 12 acres had to be cleared within 5 years or the settler would lose title to the land. Early settlers had incentive to fell trees rapidly. Despite hardships, European settlements increased into the 19th century.

In the meantime the straightest, strongest timbers were frequently harvested from the moraine's forests with many ultimately shipped to Europe to shipbuilding centres. Mast Road in Scugog Township recalls this early extraction of one of the moraine's resources.

Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust: Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve 18462 Bathurst Street Newmarket Ontario L3Y 4V9 Tel:(905)853-3171