Since time immemorial, Indigenous Peoples created trails within and across their territories:

  • to bypass unnavigable rapids and waterfalls,
  • to portage between water bodies,
  • to hunt, fish, and gather,
  • to visit family and friends,
  • to access lookouts,
  • to access sites for ritual and celebration,
  • to meet for trade, negotiation, or war.

Collectively, these overland trails and the intervening waterbodies formed a vast transportation network that connected Indigenous Peoples and cultures throughout North America (Turtle Island).

Locally, within this vast network, there was a major transportation hub where the Rideau and the Gatineau Rivers flow into the Ottawa River. From this confluence, navigating by foot and canoe, Indigenous Peoples were able to access territory north to James Bay, south to the Gulf of Mexico, east to the Saint Lawrence River, and west to the Rocky Mountains. Moreover, due to significant obstacles just upstream on each of these regional rivers, this confluence became a sacred stop and gathering place for Indigenous Peoples… “adàwe”, which means “to trade”, led to the English name “Ottawa”. Notably, ancient artefacts as old as 7000 years, and living, culturally-significant species of plants have been found in the Kichi Sibi Region.

For additional insight, see this…

Today, many ancient indigenous trails are overgrown, built over, and long forgotten. However, although buried under landfill and concrete, and now cutting through subdivisions and cities, these ancient trails are still there – waiting to be rediscovered and used again. By remembering and commemorating the Ancient Indigenous Trails of the Kichi Sibi, we can reconnect with the deep history of this region – and with ourselves…

“[as] we integrate these trails into our sense of place,
we recognize the people who created and used them for millennia,
and we find that, in many ways, we meet ourselves”.

Max Finkelstein

Our regional rivers are known by name, in various languages:

English / FrenchAlgonquin
Ottawa River /
Rivière des Outaouais
Kichi Sibi
“The Great River”
Rideau River /
Rivière Rideau
“The River That Passes Between the Rocks”
Gatineau River /
Rivière Gatineau
“The River that Stops [One’s Journey]”

For additional insight into the history of this region, we share a biographic sketch of Chief Pierre-Louis Constant Pinesi (1768-1834) – an Algonquin Grand Chief (Kichi Ogima) who played an important role in Kichi Sibi territory and in Canada.

Initiatives comparable to Kichi Sibi Trails can be found within the Ottawa River Region, across Canada, and throughout North America.