Tom Parkin for Parkdale-High Park

People are counting on us to win — and fight for them

Teiaiagon was a vibrant Indigenous community of 5000 people in the late 1600s. Located on the point of land now called Baby Point and overlooking what we now call the Humber River, Parkdale-High Park has been built over it.

In the 1600s, Teiaiagon was one of two Indigenous communities in what’s now Toronto, the other being on the Rouge River.

The moose antler comb in the image above was unearthed in 1999 when construction of a Baby Point home unsettled the site where two Seneca women had been buried in the mid-1600s.

By learning and promoting the history of Teiaiagon, Parkdale-High Park New Democrats can help advance reconciliation. Parkdale-High Park has a central place in the colonization and settlement of Toronto.

And as your NDP MP, I want to keep helping our neighbours to learn this history. We should have plaques and discussions that recognize the deep indigenous history here. Our children should learn it in neighbourhood schools. Peggy Nash’s work to recognize the historic Humber River waterway needs to be continued.

I’m an amateur on local history – so I welcome those who can add, correct and help me learn more. What I’ve learned just comes from my experience of almost 30 years living in Parkdale-High Park. With my kids and wife, we’ve explored and talked about this history. Things weren’t always are they are now.

Written histories show the Seneca Iroquois town of Teiaiagon had about 50 longhouses and its people farmed the point’s land.

Teiaiagon was on the Toronto portage trail – the route from near the mouth of the Humber River to the Holland River. From the Holland River, which leads into the Holland Marsh, a light boat can travel to Lake Simcoe and then to Georgian Bay.

In those years, the French crown claimed all the territory in this area as New France. There was considerable contact between French people and the people of Teiaiagon.

It seems Teiaiagon was abandoned by the Seneca in 1687. Some histories say Teiaiagon was burned down by French military forces as punishment for trading with British expeditions. What is known is that in 1696 the Teiaiagon area was inhabited by Mississaugas.

In 1720 the French built a trading post near Teiaiagon. And in 1750 the French military built Fort Rouillé on the lakeshore, at the mouth of the Humber. But in 1763, after the end of the Seven Years War, European royals redrew their lines over this territory. Under European law, Teiaiagon became part of the British Province of Quebec, which extended as far south as the Ohio Valley.

Lines changed again in 1783, when the American revolutionary war against the British was formally ended. British claims south of the Great Lakes were ceded to the United States. Teiaiagon was, from the British military perspective, now the edge of a hot boundary. In 1787, the British Crown made an agreement with the Mississaugas of the New Credit, which is now called the Toronto Purchase.

I haven’t been able to find out when the Mississagas left Teiaiagon. Or why.

The colony of Upper Canada was run by the Tory Family Compact, which included James Bâby, a man from a fur trader family in what had been the ‘New France’ settlement of Detroit. Bâby’s family switched to the British side after the Seven Years War and then moved from Detroit to York (Toronto) after the US Revolutionary War. James Baby settled on the Teiaiagon lands in 1816. When the land was developed in the early 1900s, it was named Baby Point.

But before that, it was Teiaiagon.

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