Kichi Sibi Trails is working to revitalize (identify, uncover, mark, map, restore, publicize, and share) the traditional Indigenous trails that have connected the lands and waterways around the Kichi Sibi (the Ottawa River) since time immemorial. In so doing, we hope to reconnect modern-day people with the deep history, the natural heritage, and the rich presence of Indigenous culture in this region.
It all began with a chance revelation that Sherwood Drive originated as an Indigenous trail between the Rideau River and the Ottawa River.
In 2020, a eclectic group came together to discuss this revelation and thus began the journey of re-discovering the Indigenous trails that have long traversed what is now known as the City of Ottawa. We called ourselves Kichi Sibi Trails. Today we are a diverse group of volunteer historians, paddlers, geographers, botanists, and others… We are particularly grateful for and honoured by the ongoing support and involvement of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation.
In 2021, Kichi Sibi Trails partnered with the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital to apply for a grant from the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative and to develop the first of these trails.
As soon as we were awarded this grant, we set about finding and examining old surveyors’ notes and maps, seeking out sinuous modern-day streets and mysterious monuments, and reviewing archival stories… all the while imagining the landscape in pre-settlement days and the logical routes to connect local and regional waterways…
Already, Kich Sibi Trails has revitalized Chief Pinesi’s Portage – an ancient portage trail that bypasses Rideau Falls, thereby facilitating passage between the Ottawa River and the Rideau River. We have only begun to identify and explore other areas of interest. We’d love to do more!
In 2022, Kichi Sibi Trails created this website (KichiSibiAncientTrails.ca) to publicize and share our efforts.
Kichi Sibi Trails maintains an active presence on facebook.
Kichi Sibi Trails commissioned two artworks to mark and celebrate the rich heritage of the Indigenous trails and the Eastern Woodlands, and the ongoing presence of Algonquin Anishinabe in the Kichi Sibi Region.
We hope you will see these artworks in person. You can learn more about the artists and their beautiful work here!
These designs were conceived and created by the highly esteemed Algonquin Artist, Simon Brascoupé of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (biography). They are unique symbols of traditional Algonquin territory, history, and culture.
We are honoured to employ Simon’s beautiful designs as our logos and as trail markers along the revitalized trails: the bear for walking trails, the beaver for actively used portage trails.
This spectacular Algonquin mural is a mixed-media collaboration, created by a mother / daughter team of superb Algonquin Artists from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg. Doreen Stevens (biography) created Miskwi Bloodline (the mosaic), with assistance from Conrad Stevens as Technical Advisor and Ted Cash as Labourer. Charlotte Aki Stevens (biography) created Gathering Phases (the painting).
We are honoured and proud to display this mural for all to enjoy! It is permanently mounted on the west-facing wall of the New Edinburgh Fieldhouse (203 Stanley Avenue), at New Edinburgh Park, in the City of Ottawa.
The work of Kichi Sibi Trails reflects the passion, good will, skill, and generosity of many individuals and organizations. We thank all who have contributed!
Care to join us? Offer a tip? Volunteer some time or expertise?