Great Canadian Parks / Ontario

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The Parks / Ontario / St. Lawrence Islands National Park




 


The first visitors to the area were natives who hunted and fished among the islands. Archeologists have discovered arrowheads, pot shards and raspberry and blueberry seeds dating as far back as 1000 B.C. Pictographs, painted on a shoreline cliff, are still visible in spite of the toll taken on them by acid rain and vandals. After the aboriginals came the French explorers, fur traders, missionaries, United Empire Loyalists and, during the War of 1812, British and American ships following the St. Lawrence Seaway. The park is the site of the preserved hull of a British gunboat from this period, raised at Mallorytown Landing in 1967. Many shipwrecks remain on the riverbottom. Cedar Island has a Martello tower - the Cathcart Tower - a squat, circular arsenal built of limestone. The farmers who settled some of the larger islands found the soil too thin for profitable agriculture and grasslands and shrubs growing amid the crumbling stone foundations are now reclaiming their abandoned fields. The Canadian government held custody to most of these islands having been given title by the Mississauga Indians, but in the 1880's and 90's the larger islands had been purchased privately and local residents found they were no longer welcome to hunt and picnic there. In 1904, the local citizens urged the federal government to reserve for the public nine islands that were for sale. These formed the nucleus of the park, which was formally established in 1914.

 

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