(6000 to first European contact)
The York River established its present form about 4,700 years ago and has been used by the Algonquin for thousands of years. The York River was called the “Shawashkong”, meaning “crooked to the treetops” in Algonquin. It flows into the Madawaska River (meaning “reeds at the fork in the river” which then flows into the Ottawa River. (Kichisippi, meaning big river)
The Algonquin residing within the Shawashkong watershed, hunted in the forests using spears and bow and arrow. From the rivers and lakes, fish such as trout, pickerel, and the American eel, were caught using nets woven from plant fibers, wooden traps, stone weirs, and fish spears.
Being masters of canoe making and canoe travel, Algonquins used an extensive system of canoe and portage routes to move between various encampment areas throughout their territory. Travels were based on the seasonal needs of acquiring resources for survival.
Picture an Algonquin family travelling from a large summer village as far away as the Madawaska River and travelling to their winter hunting territory at the head waters of the York River, within what is now, Algonquin Park, and repeating that journey twice a year.
Seasonal camping areas were used year after year for hundreds and thousands of years. Evidence of these campsites exist at numerous archaeological sites along the York and Madawaska rivers.
The point of land with the river bending around where Tim Hortons is located, would have been an ideal camping area for Algonquin people travelling the river, with the cliffs of Eagles Nest towering looming high above them. What an amazing place to camp!