By Sam Laskaris
Unless people venture slightly off the Township of Ramara’s main highway, they might be unaware of a historical location.
The Mnjikaning Fish Weirs are believed to have been constructed by First Nations people about 3,300 BC, making them well over 5,000 years old.
These weirs were built in the narrows between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. The wooden weirs were built in order to trap various fish swimming through them.
The weirs were constructed by driving a significant number of wooden stakes into the bottom of the narrows.
Indigenous settlers of the area then made net-like fencing by weaving brush and vegetation. Fish were then netted and some were kept to be eaten during the winter months.
The Mnjikaning Fish Weirs were officially recognized by Canada as a national historical site on June 12, 1982.
Mnjikaning means “place of the fish fence” in Ojibwe.
These days there are very few wooden fish weirs in existence in the world. In fact, the Mnijkaning one is the only one of its kind in Canada.
Since the wooden stakes are covered in silt, they are still intact these days as they have been protected from any bacteria.
Mnijkaning was also a meeting place for various Indigenous people. Besides conducting ceremonies on the site, goods were exchanged here and treaties were also signed.
The site can be found by heading north on Highway 12 towards Orillia. After passing the major intersection of Creighton St., take the first left onto Queen St. and then an immediate right on to Bridge St.
The site is located about 200 metres straight ahead, just to the right of the Blue Beacon Marina.
Though Highway 12 traffic passes above, Indigenous people believe Mnijkaning still holds a special place. They believe the Creator’s spiritual energy and power can be experienced at the site.