Wilmot Township Building Permits’ data indicates that the Wilmot Township population at the end of 2020 was almost 22,000 citizens. At one point in time, there was no one here – just glacial ice.

The geo-political area we now know as Wilmot Township has a long history. It’s a story of where did people come from, how did they get here and when did they come here. It’s the story of subsequent waves of populations moving into the same area and replacing each other for dominance. Thus, the answer to when we arrived here, depends on “who” we are talking about.

From Where, When, and How?

There are now approximately 22,000 people living in Wilmot Township. What did this area look like 17,000 years ago and who lived here then? When did the first humans probably arrive here? Where did they come from? The history of the populated world is that peoples living in an area tend to be ‘replaced’ by subsequent arrivals – by various methods. Who were these groups? This page and its links will attempt to look into those questions.

There appears to be wide agreement that there were three (3) significant migrations of peoples into North America, across a ‘land bridge’ from Asia. These are summed up in the conclusions reached by the University College London Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment.

The DNA sequences from 52 Native American groups and 17 Siberian groups, of more than 300,000 samples, indicate that most Native American populations arose from the first migration more than 15,000 years ago. Many genetic studies have been conducted by geneticists. The Crawford study of sequenced DNA indicates that this first migration via Siberia into North America consisted of approximately 250 people (between 229 and 300). These 250 people have produced about 100 million generations of descendants.

The second and third migrations left a genetic impact only on Arctic populations speaking Eskimo-Aleut, and on the Canadian Chipewyan who speak Na-Dene. The Eskimo-Aleut received more than 50% of their DNA from the first migration, and the Chipewyan received about 90% of their DNA from the first migration.

The ‘route’ maps on the Origins page, show the path of movement of these people. People would locate in an area and subsist, feed, clothe and shelter themselves in defined ways as evidenced by archaeological evidence that has been accumulated. A population would survive and increase to a ‘splitting’ point, and a part of that group would move on (in a group of about 50). After a period of time that group would increase in size, split and the sub-group move on. As the numbers increased at each new group, the number of groups/tribes would multiply exponentially. 1>2/ 2>4/ 4>8/ 8>16 / etc. Over tens of thousands of years the numbers increase, over widely spread lands, and each adapts to the new environmental conditions to which they adapt. Languages multiply, religions multiply, etc.  As we will see elsewhere, often competition arises between different groups who want to secure another’s occupied territory and will “replace” them either by attrition or various methods of force or coercion.

Same place, different ‘lifeways’, different tribal groups

The people inhabiting the region around southwestern Ontario and Wilmot Township have evidenced a series of subsequent groups that are defined as “Periods”. The periods describe when the lifeways or ‘cultural’ periods changed. The lifeways are identified as culture (language, religion, dress), social organization and subsistence methods. A ‘period’ is the time defined as having similar features or conditions. These ‘periods’ often overlapped as the ‘lifeways’ transitioned into another.

[Source: “A History of the Native People of Canada”, Canadian Museum of History]

Pre-Paleoindian Period: 17000 – 12000 B.P. – Before Present
Paleo/Clovis People Period: 12000 – 8000 B.P. – Before Present

Archaic People Period: 8000 – 3000 B.C.

Woodland People Period: 3000 BC – 1000 A.D.

Despite the richer archaeological record, there are a number of problems impeding an understanding of Middle Great Lakes-St. Lawrence culture or Laurentian Archaic as it is commonly known. Foremost among the problems is the fact that the majority of site materials have been recovered from the surface of ploughed fields. Even when excavated, Middle Great Lakes-St. Lawrence culture site material is usually hopelessly intermixed with earlier and later archaeological debris

[Canadian Museum of History]

Early Woodland Period – 3000 BC to 200 BC

The distribution of certain tool varieties and exotic items indicates that Middle Great Lakes-St. Lawrence culture peoples had contacts not only with related bands but also their Middle Maritime culture and Middle Shield culture neighbours as well as people to the south.”

Middle Woodland Period – 200 BC to 500 AD

Like their Middle Great Lakes-St. Lawrence culture ancestors, the Late Great Lakes-St. Lawrence culture people were organized into local bands which, during the warmer months of the year, coalesced at favourable fishing locales. Here the women, children, and the infirm could be left to tend fishnets and traps and gather shellfish and plant foods while the hunters ranged out from the base camp along the water routes in search of big game and other resources. An apparent innovation in the Saugeen complex was the ability to trap fish in rapids, likely using weirs to channel fish into the trap/net. Weir fishing in quieter water, of course, was practised much earlier. Archaeological evidence of human relationships is to be seen in the presence of alien pottery styles on many sites reflecting the need to draw spouses from other bands and even other cultures. With reference to the foregoing, it is believed that women manufactured the pottery vessels and brought their regional styles with them when they joined their husbands.

In summary, the appearance of pottery around 1,000 B.C., the adoption of the bow and arrow about the same time and the development of a specialized preform industry, and the appearance of mortuary ceremonialism originating in the Ohio Valley coalesced to create an impression in the archaeological record that momentous change took place. It now appears that simply two new elements of technology, pottery and the bow and arrow, were adopted. Even the mortuary ideas coming from the Ohio Valley were only adopted by a very limited portion of the population. The way of life remained essentially unchanged from Period III and was not dramatically altered until the adoption of a corn-based horticulture economy between A.D. 500-1000.

Later Woodland Period – 500 AD to 1000 AD
Mississippian People Period: 1000 – 1520 A.D.
Exploratory Period: 1520 – 1670 A.D.
Historic Period: 1670 – present

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