KSAT blog

When Kichi Sibi Trails Began

July 1, 2020

One evening on a COVID walk with Amena, we happened to stumble upon the oldest settler house in Ottawa: the Bayne Morrison House of 1828 at 40 Fuller Street. As it happened, someone who grew up there was outside on the road when I took a picture –  presumably a Morrison, as it is still owned by them. While chatting, I asked if there was an indigenous trail nearby. To my surprise, the owner said it was Sherwood Drive.

We continued west along Sherwood, trying to see where it went. I noticed a good number of maples and the unusual Catalpa – also known as the Indian Bean Tree. As this species is not native, we wondered who had planted it and when. Indigenous Peoples? Settlers?

The route was uncertain after Holland. In a straight line it would appear that it went to the Champlain Bridge. However, following a line along Clare and Iona, it seemed to go through Hampton Park and then to Dovercourt, finally reaching Mud Lake. We stopped following it after we happened upon the Food Basics.

The next dawn I went to the Dow’s Lake Peninsula where Sherwood seemed to lead. From the peninsula, I followed the path back along to Sherwood Drive. It intersected Bayswater, which I wondered if it might be another trail reaching down to the Onigam Portage, the promontory near Lemieux Island. My guess is this would be for those going west going up the Rideau, whereas the Rockcliffe Portage (aka Chief Pinesi’s Portage) would be for those going east. I then followed Sherwood to Parkdale…

These discoveries made me look anew at the map of Ottawa and want to search for other such trails. Sherwood is obvious because it is diagonal to other local roads. Heron Road may be a candidate. Richmond and Wellington make other good candidates. There is a known trail near Pinecrest. Promenade du Portage, the main street in Gatineau, is well known.

Do you know of other trails, or other candidates?