First Nations & Native
Archaeological records indicated that humans inhabited the area near present day Perth, on the shores of the ancient Champlain Sea as far back as 8,000 B.C. Although people of that time tended to be pre-occupied with day to day survival, it can be imagined, that, like the present day residents and visitors to the region, they appreciated looking up at the millions of stars visible on a clear Rideau night, hearing the haunting call of the loon, and enjoying the cool evening breezes that blow across the lakes of the region.
Two major native tribal groups inhabited the lands of the Rideau region. These were the eastern woodland Indians, the Iroquoian and Algonquian. From archaeological and linguistic evidence, these two groups had separate roots and were not related.
The people who actually populated the Rideau region were known as the Algonquin, although there were no permanent settlements in the area traversed by the Rideau Waterway. A "hunter-gatherer" culture, they used the Rideau area as a source of food, setting up hunting and fishing camps throughout the region. Established villages were located on the shores of the Ottawa River and some of its major tributaries.
In the Rideau region, the natives who ventured north from the St. Lawrence after about 1,000 A.D. were likely the St. Lawrence Iroquois. This group of people had disappeared by about 1580, likely due to a combination of European diseases and war with the Huron. The Five Nations had little influence in the Rideau until about 1660, when they built a series of settlements along the north shore of Lake Ontario. These settlements lasted until the early 1700s when they were taken over by the Ojibwa/Ottawa invading into this area from the north.
The Iroquois Wars continued throughout the 1600s. These were finally brought to a halt in 1701 when the Iroquois ratified a treaty that committed them to neutrality in the wars between the British and the French. In 1756 the Seven Years War started between the French and the British. After the fall of New France (Québec) to the British in 1760, many Algonquin and Iroquois natives allied themselves with the British.
During the American Revolution, Iroquois loyalties were split, and many of those in New York state, who sided with the British, later moved to Canada along with the United Empire Loyalists, and settled on land given to them by the British, in Southern Ontario.
As the Indian Reserve system took hold in the late 1700s, many of the natives moved to these communities. Since the Rideau had no traditional permanent native habitation, reserves were never established in this region (many of the new reserves were established along the north shore of Lake Ontario.) The days of the traditional "hunter-gatherer" were drawing to a close.