History of the Indigenous Traditional Inhabitants

We hereby acknowledge that Lanark County is situated on unceded traditional Omàmìwininì (Anishinaabe/Algonquin) territory and with this acknowledgement comes respect for the land, people and the unique history of the territory.

Click the link to right to be taken in a new window to the website of the  Lanark County Neighbours for Truth & Reconciliation

The history of the Indigenous people who inhabited the land around what was to become a British military settlement called Perth is, like much of Canadian history, woven out of myths and facts with a great deal of suspicion and mistrust, deception and honourable acts that are often viewed differently, depending on whose story is being told.

In their own creation myth the Omàmìwininì people claim they came west in a series of long migration waves from what is now called the Gaspe Peninsula stopping off at many places where some bands stayed. The Anishinaabe peoples, or Omàmìwininì, have lived in the watershed of the Ottawa River (Kiji Sìbì) for thousands of years. Omàmìwininì were here when Samuel de Champlain boated up the Ottawa River in 1603 – it was Champlain who first used the name “Algonquin”. Omàmìwininì people were here when settlers from Europe made the long overland journey from Prescott to the Lanark Highlands and helped the settlers survive and thrive on the land. Omàmìwininì and Anishinaabe people played key roles in defending the British colonies during the War of 1812. The settlement of former soldiers and newcomers was intended to be limited to lands which had been surrendered as part of the Crawford treaty of 1783. However, between 1815 and 1850 over 800,000 new settlers came to Canada from Europe. Increasingly the Indigenous peoples were crowded out of their traditional lands. The Omàmìwininì were encouraged to resettle into reserves but the only Algonquin reserve on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River ( established at Golden Lake.Pikwàkanagàn, north-west of Renfrew) did not attract that many people. Indeed many chose to remain in their traditional locations such as the people who called as their homeland what became Perth. These people remain among us today,  blending in and almost unnoticed. But they know who they are and remain proud of their culture, history and ancestry. Even if they are not recognized as status Indians they never formally ceded their land.

OPT would like to work respectfully with the Omàmìwininì descendants in recreating native forests in and around Perth.

More information on this fascinating story can be found visiting the Perth Museum in the Matheson House on Gore Street or by clicking on the Perth & District Historical Society website button below.

At Home in Tay Valley is a 248-page book compiled for the 200th Anniversary of Perth with essays, photos and maps contributed by local residents. One chapter is written by Omàmìwininì elder, Paula Sherman, detailing their history. The book can be purchased at the Perth Museum or ordered online.

Omàmiwininì: The Invisible People by Kim Hanewich can be read in PDF off The Algonquin Way website.