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Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada

Cultural Heritage


Ancient Waterway

Successive groups of Native people have travelled the natural waterway formed by the Waterway Lakes since at least 9000 B.C. Archaeological sites found throughout the area point to the importance of this transportation and migration route. One of the largest single concentrations of Native rock carvings in Canada may be seen at Petroglyphs Provincial Park near Burleigh Falls. As well, prehistoric burial mounds such as those at Serpent Mounds Provincial Park on Rice Lake testify to the areas early significance.

© Parks Canada / Fred Irons, 1991
Native person
Native person.
© Parks Canada

Paleo indian
Paleo indian.
© Parks Canada

Around the 17 th century, the waters of what is now the Trent-Severn Waterway were a significant transportation route for fur traders. For a time, Prince Edward County and the upper Trent were important Huron centres in the trade with the French. In 1615, Samuel de Champlain led his Huron allies from Georgian Bay down the Trent-Severn to attack the Iroquois on the south shore of Lake Ontario. Part of what is now Highway 48 near Bolsover lock station, was portaged by the explorer on his way from Lake Simcoe to Lake Ontario.