Wigwams

There were several First Nations groups present on and around Burlington Heights during the War of 1812 including the Mississauga, Haudenassaunee, Oneida, Aughquaga, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tutelo, Nanticoke, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee. At times the numbers would have reached into the thousands. According to a report on the Six Nations displaced after the Battle of the Thames in 1813, 420 men and over 900 women are listed. Unlike the British army which had standard tent sizes laid out in rows by company, First Nations groups tended to spread themselves out in smaller encampment areas without the regimented organization of their British allies. There is archaeological evidence recovered near to Beasley’s house, dating to the War of 1812, of a semi-circular structure which probably used saplings dug into the ground for the frame and bark and woven matting for the walls and roof. According to Major Littlehales, an aid to Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe (1791-96), the Mississauga were extremely adept at creating weather proof wigwams in a very short time.

We…stopped at 4 o’clock to give the Indians time to make a wigwam. The dexterity and alacrity of these people, habituated to the hardships incidental to the woods, is remarkable. Small parties will, with the utmost facility, cut down large trees with their tomahawks, bark them, and in a few minutes construct most comfortable huts, capable of resisting any inclemency of the weather, covering it with Bark of Elm.