Thousands of years of Brantford-area history unearthed

BRANTFORD – The unearthing of an estimated 400,000 artifacts shed light on the long past history of Brantford, Ontario and Canada, as well as evidence of Haudenosaunee occupation long before the Haldimand Deed of 1784.

The findings were unearthed during the demolition of century old buildings along Colborne Street East in Brantford, in preparation for the construction of the new YMCA/Laurier University complex.

Most of the artifacts are in the form of pottery shards and flint flakes left by ancient arrowheads and spear head construction during Onkwehonwe (Indigenous) occupation going back as far as 1500s.

The artifacts were located very close to Brant’s Crossing, where Joseph Brant’s Mohawks and others of the Six Nations traversed the river on their way to occupy the land given to them through the Haldimand Deed of 1784.

Some non-Native historians have tried to say that the Iroquois did not occupy this area until they migrated from upstate New York and Ohio following the American Revolution.

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) historians however have held that the Brantford area was well known to Brant and was selected by him to establish his Mohawk Village and the dwellings of others of Six Nations.

In more recent history, there are at least three lots within the footprint of the new YMCA building which still belongs to Six Nations through the Nathan Gage land claim, still left unresolved by the Canadian Government.

The found artifacts span a wide range of occupations by both Indigenous peoples and early settlers to the region.

Brian Rosborough, the senior executive officer at Laurier’s Brantford campus, said in a statement, “They tell the story of the people who have called this area home from as far back as 500 BCE to the 21st century.”

“The sheer volume of archeological material unearthed at the site did add to our project timelines,” said Rosborough. “However, the discoveries made at the site are exciting, and add a new and important dimension to this project. They tell the story of the people who have called this area home from as far back as 500 BCE to the 21st century. Our archeologists have referred to this as the most significant archeological discovery in Ontario since the construction of the Sky Dome. As a university, we’re thrilled to be part of such compelling finds.”

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  1. Just to complicate the Nathan Gage land claim, it maybe true that the land Never left the domain of the 6 Nations as Nathan Gage is perhaps the cousin of Mohawk Leader John Brant and Rev. Peter Jones of the Missisauga. This hidden family relations comes down from Mary Jones Gage of Battlefield House in Stoney Creek. Her brother being Augustus Jones with two Indian wives, one Joseph Brants sister in law, the Other a Missisauga wife the mother of Peter Jones founder of the New Credit Reserve. This is my extended family history. Although the Gage Jones and Brant Families lived in a life style of Colonial British Empires they all knew their roots and kept land within their circle of relatives. They never surrendered title.

    1. Although it is sketchy I have researched the origins of Augustus Jones. It is very probable that he and his sister Mary Jones Gage were themselves half Delaware. Their father was a blanket trader on the Susquehanna River near Cooperstown New York. No mother was ever recorded. Joseph Brants wife was from that region and Joseph Brant had a large land claim there. Augustus Jones Married Brants sister in law. Jones trader father had became wealthy and bankrolled the wounded John Graves Simcoe (Shot by Stockbridge Indians AKA Last of the Mohegans) while leading the Queens (Rogers Rangers) Rangers and American based frontier unit. Lord Simcoe knew well Mary Smith Gage had married an American Revolutionary Soldier, but given her Fathers support, her Brothers Marriage to Joseph Brants Sister in law , she received a favourable grant of land at the Head of the Lake. It became a Battlefield in 1813 and the Jones home was occupied and looted by Delaware Indians.

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