Part of a Palisaded Huron-Iroquois Village
Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1972-26-242
C.W. Jefferys' notes about this picture from The Picture Gallery of Canadian History Volume 1
Cartier and Sagard, in their narratives, give us a good idea of the construction of a typical palisaded Huron-Iroquois village.
Cartier thus describes Hochelaga:
"The village is circular and is completely enclosed by a wooden palisade in three tiers like a pyramid. The top one is built crosswise, the middle one perpendicular, and the lowest one of strips of wood placed lengthwise. The whole is well joined and lashed together after their manner and is some two lances in height. There is only one gate, and that can be barred up. Over this gate and in many places about the enclosure are galleries with ladders, which galleries are provided with rocks and stones for defence."
Sagard's residence of several months in Huronia enabled him to give a more detailed description. He says that in entering the gate of the palisaded village "one is forced to pass turning sideways and not striding straight in."
He also tells us that in choosing a site for a fortified village they take care
"that it shall be adjoining some good stream, on a spot slightly elevated and surrounded by a natural moat if. possible . . . that the town shall be compact, yet with a good space left empty between the lodges and the walls so as to be able the better to defend themselves against the enemies' attacks. They move their towns every ten, fifteen, or thirty years when they find themselves too far away from wood, which they have to carry on their backs tied up and attached to a collar resting and supported on their forehead. They move their town or village also when the land is so exhausted that their corn can no longer be grown on it in the usual perfection for lack of manure. Their lodges are constructed like garden arbours covered with tree-bark, twenty-five to thirty fathoms long, and six in breadth, with a passage down the middle ten to twelve feet wide. At the two sides there is a bench four or five feet high on which they sleep in summer, and in winter they sleep below on mats near the fire. The space underneath these benches they fill with dry wood to burn in winter, but the great logs they pile in front of their lodges or store them in the porches . . . In one lodge there are many fires, and at each fire are two families, one on each side. There is smoke in them in good earnest, which causes many to have serious trouble with their eyes, as there is no opening except one in the roof of the lodge."
The illustration is drawn from these descriptions, and from engravings in the works of Cartier and Champlain.
- Jefferys, Charles W. 1942 The Picture Gallery of Canadian History Volume 1, p.16
“Restored Indian village shows how they lived.” In The Globe and Mail, June 22, 1955, p. 17. Illus.
Hart, Patricia W. Pioneering in North York: A History of the Borough. Toronto, General Pub. Co., 1968. 324 p. Illus.
Garrod, Stan, et al. Canada: Growth of a Nation. Toronto, Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1994. Rev. ed. 304 p. Illus.
Dawendine. Iroquois fires: The Six Nations Lyrics and Lore of Dawendine. Ottawa, Penumbra Press, 1995. 158 p. Illus.
“Early Canada Historical Narratives -- CHAMPLAIN & THE FUR TRADE.” Accessed July 23, 2017. http://www.uppercanadahistory.ca/finna/finna2.html.