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Eastern Woodland Hunters
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The Eastern Woodland Hunters were located in Southwest and Southern Ontario (excluding the very
south that was occupied by the Eastern Woodland Farmers), Southern Quebec and the Maritime Provinces.
The Environment
  • Geography played a critical role in the lifestyle of the area's First Peoples.
  • The Eastern Woodlands was quite diverse in terms of geography, as it stretched across a large portion of Eastern Canada.
  • It included:
    • Deciduous forests of southern Ontario
    • The St. Lawrence lowlands
    • The coastal Atlantic region
    • Deciduous-coniferous forests of the Canadian Shield (in the west)
    • The Appalachian uplands (in the east)

Eastern Deciduous Forest

Birch Forest

Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia

Birch Bark Canoe
Birch Trees
  • While the types of forests differed slightly between Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces, their importance to the people remained the same.
  • The common link between the forested areas was the birch trees...
  • Birch trees were the single most important trees for the people of the Eastern Woodlands. The forested areas of central Ontario, southern Quebec and the Maritime provinces had much larger birch tree than forests to the south, which only increased their usefulness to the people.
  • They used brich trees to construct Birch Bark Canoes, Wigwams, Baskets, and more...


Birch Bark and Quill Basket

Musquodoboit River, Nova Scotia
  • The Eastern Woodlands area also has many natural waterways, from the large St. Lawrence River, to the Great Lakes, to the Atlantic coast and many rivers and lakes of all sizes.
  • The Eastern Woodlands Hunters learned to use these waterways to their advantage and became good fishermen and paddlers.
Settlements and Housing
  • During the summer when resources were aplenty, the semi-nomadic Eastern Woodlands Hunters would move into small villages, and fish, hunt, and farm there together.
  • The villages ranged in size from one to two small houses, up to several hundred people.
  • Since they relied heavily on the hunting skills of their men, when fall approached, they scattered into smaller bands to follow the wild game they all needed to survive.
  • They had to be prepared to move to follow game, or find better fishing, especially during the winter.

Eastern Woodlands Village

A shaman in a wigwam
Housing - the Wigwam
  • Most Eastern Algonquian families lived in dome-shaped wigwams.
  • They lived in structures called 'wigwams', which were much smaller than Iroquois longhouses.
  • Only one family would live in a wigwam, unlike a longhouse, and since the wigwams were smaller, they were easier to take down and transport.
  • It was always the woman's job to set up and take down the wigwam.
  • Some also constructed conical wigwams, similar to the Plains' tipis.

Dome-shaped wigwam

Conical wigwams

Wigwam Frame
Building a Wigwam
  • A frame was set up, either spruce or pine branches arranged in a circular floor pattern.
  • The frame was covered with a layer of birch bark (protection against the rain and snow).
  • The overlapping bark provided good protection against the rain.
  • Another layer of poles were often stacked against the outside walls of the wigwam to keep the wind from blowing off the bark.
  • A piece of leather hide was used as a door.
  • Inside there was a rock fire pit in the middle (edged with sand) that provided heat for the family.
  • The ground inside was covered with fir branches, which acted as insulation and kept the family warm.
  • It was the women took the wigwams apart, carried them from place to place, and set them up again.
Groups in
this Region
Food / Hunting / Tools Transportation / Migration Religion / Ceremonies / Art / Clothing Family / Social Structure / Leadership Tribal Relations / War
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