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The Norton Attawandaron Village

The Norton Attawandaron Village
Plaque no. 36
Date of plaque unveiling
23 April 1994
Speakers
Rev. Dr. J. Douglas Leighton
Location
150 Chelsea Avenue, Kensal Park, London, Ontario (north side off Springbank Park)
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History

Since 1939, archaeologists postulated that a native settlement existed here centuries ago. The Norton Attawandaron Village was discovered in 1988 during an environmental assessment for a PUC pipeline. The site is believed to have been occupied in the late Woodland period, from about 1400 to the early 1500s, although Attawandarons are thought to have come to this area more than 1000 years ago.

By 1400, there had been three major settlements in the London area. It is likely that the inhabitants of the Norton site were Attawandarons as were the occupants of the Lawson Prehistoric Village site in northwest London.  Attawandarons were also known as Neutrals because they tried to avoid involvement in the wars prevalent between the Hurons and the Iroquois. Remaining neutral would prove difficult, since the warring factions lay both to the north and south of the Thames River.

This village consisted of nine longhouses sheltering between 500 and 1000 occupants. Artifacts found here have included carbonized corn kernels, clay pipes, deer antlers and potsherds. These natives were largely agrarian. They surrounded their village with palisades of poles to protect the settlement from periodic attacks, most likely by bands of Iroquois. Competition created by the early fur trade was one factor behind Iroquois attacks on the Attawandarons and Hurons during this period.

After centuries of farming and hunting in the Thames River district, the Neutrals left the area in the sixteenth century, moving east toward present-day Hamilton. There, for a time, they formed part of a powerful Neutral confederacy. This confederacy was dispersed in the mid-seventeenth century, after repeated attacks by the Five Nations Iroquois (Cayugas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas and Senecas), who had moved north from the present New York State area.