Hiawatha Reserve is located on the north shore of Rice
Lake east of the Otonabee River. It is found in Otonabee
Township approximately 30 kilometres south of
Peterborough. The reserve consists of approximately 1952
acres of land of which 1523 are under certificates of
In 1818, our people surrendered a large portion of their
territory known as New Castle District to the British
Government. The Indians could neither read nor write
English at this time.
the first Mission House in Peterborough County was built
at Rice Lake. The Mission house (church) was Methodist,
with a resident minister.
an area along the north shore of Rice Lake was officially
designated as a reserve under the name of the Mississaugas
of Rice Lake Reserve. It had a land base of approximately
1120 acres and a population of 130 adults and 90 children.
For many years, the members used the land for farming. If
they did not farm the land themselves, the lands were
leased to others. At one time this area was known for its
abundance of wild rice that grew in Rice Lake.
Unfortunately, the building of the Trent-Severn Waterway
and the resulting increase of water levels destroyed the
wild rice beds.
Lake Reserve was established in 1828 consisting of 1120
acres of land. The grant was dated April 19, 1834(this was
a title deed). The original survey was in 1855.
Forty acres of land at Rice Lake were cleared. The
building of 22 houses was completed in September. They are
in direct line and equal distance from each other near the
banks of the lake. A square for public buildings was left
in the middle.
village boasted a store and post-office, a schoolhouse and
In 1847 Mr. John William Love who came from Smith's Creek
(now Port Hope) was a schoolmaster of the Indians at Rice
Lake. In a letter he had written in early 1847 he
described the happy time and the preparation and feast for
a memorable New Year's Day. Mr. Love pointed out to the
Indians the injustice they were inflicting on their wives
and the rising generation, in not bringing their women
forward as white men did and to raise their wives to the
level that they should occupy in society. Mr. Love wrote
that because of this act, the Rice Lake Indians raised
themselves to the head of every tribe on any reservation
of the province.
The railroad was first reported in 1855 and would run
between Peterborough and Harwood, crossing the lake at the
Reserve. One of the two earliest railway charters came
into existence in March 1834, with the authority to
construct a "double or single iron or wooden
"Rail Road" north of Rice Lake. Samuel Gore
built the 11-mile enterprise but the plank roadbed was
vulnerable to frost, and after the second winter, was
abandoned to build a 30-mile railway in two years, over
uncharted terrain. Bridging three miles of water was a
formidable task. Lake conditions were underestimated and
the original plan to construct a causeway was changed to a
bridge. Work commenced in 1853 and was largely completed
that year. By November of 1854 the bridge was completed
and trains operated from Cobourg to Indian village
Hiawatha where Fisher's stage provided a connection to
The first school was at the Mission House, located north
west of the present church.
Our present church was built in 1870.
was the first place in Peterborough County to have a
mission established. In about 1820, Nathan Baggs, the
first Methodist Missionary in Western Ontario, baptized
Chief Paudash and most of his band.
A short distance west of the mouth of the Indian River,
the shoreline of Rice Lake extends into a broad peninsula
formed by the east side of Gregor Bay. At the tip of this
peninsula is Roche's Point and Serpent Mounds Park. Here
archaeological excavations have turned up evidence of
people living in the area about 2000 years ago. Nine
mounds or burial places have been located at the south end
of the park, one of which is serpentine in form, four to
six feet high and nearly two hundred feet long.
population was 79 Band members.
A school was built just east of where the administration
building is now. The present school located on the corner
of Hiawatha line and Paudash Street was built in 1906.
The church changed from Methodist to Hiawatha United.
surrounding the Serpent Mounds burial site was purchased
for protection and conservation.
The land surrounding the Serpent Mounds burial site was
taken and converted to a Provincial Park.
The name of the Mississaugas of Rice Lake Reserve was
changed to Hiawatha Reserve.
1966-67 Hiawatha became self-governing, meaning they no
longer fell under the control of an Indian agent - Chief
and Council could make some decisions on their own.
Hiawatha First Nation Indian Reserve became
Hiawatha First Nation.
management of Serpent Mounds Park returned to Hiawatha