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Dunsmore Pipe

Dunsmore Pipe


This human-wolf effigy is from a ceramic pipe from a 14th-century ancestral Huron site north of Toronto. The effigy was part of the bowl of the pipe and would have faced the smoker. The wolf is likely the clan of the smoker or possibly the animal from which his helping spirit originated.

Curatorial Comment

The ancestral Huron-Wendat, early sixteenth-century Mantle site, situated northeast of Toronto, encompassed an area of over 4.2 hectares (nine acres). The settlement was enclosed by a three row palisade and was found to contain over ninety longhouses of which approximately fifty seem to have been occupied at one time. The fact that the site may have been occupied by approximately two thousand people belies the considerable complexity with which the Wendat site planners would have been confronted. The community would have required more than sixty thousand even-aged saplings to construct houses and palisade walls and the agricultural field system would have been hundreds, if not thousands, of hectares in extent. During most of the occupation of the site, it would appear that refuse was directed out of the interior of the village into a borrow trench situated on the outside of the palisade—thereby representing one of the first organic and inorganic waste stream management systems known in the northeast. This site is the largest and most complex ancestral Huron site to yet be excavated on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Over 100,000 artifacts as fascinating as the Woodpecker effigy pipe were recovered from the site and are being interpreted. This five hundred year old woodpecker effigy pipe bowl was fashioned out of limestone and was recovered from the Mantle site, located northeast of Toronto.

Heather B.

Heather B.

The Return of Spring

After a long winter, what is more stimulating than celebrating the return of spring?

As a citizen of the Huron-Wendat Nation that was compelled to leave Huronia around 1649, I miss a heartbeat every time I set foot on our ancestors’ territory, which is now called “Toronto.”

Beyond the long highways, numerous skyscrapers and the immense mixed crowds, I dream and imagine what life was like when my ancestors were the absolute masters of this territory.

As an official representative of the Huron Wendat Nation with a mandate to represent our Nation in the promotion of knowledge, respect and protection of our many sacred sites, I have a profound sense that we are on the verge of knowing, after a long involuntary absence, a true renewal.

This was revealed in a recent unveiling of a commemorative plaque emphasizing the presence of an ancient Huron Wendat village on a new public school site in east Toronto. It is at places such as these that I rediscover my links to the deep past. Belonging to one’s clan of origin is an element of great pride in both today and in the past.  I belong to the Wolf Clan, the protectors of the Eastern Door, and this artefact reminds me of my clan.

Of course, Huronia will never again be what it was.  Yet, the great interest that these school children have toward my history and my present people encourages me to believe that the silence imposed by this long winter is now gone.

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