Plaque outside St. Lawrence Market shares taste of hundreds of years of Indigenous history

A plaque outside of St. Lawrence Market is informing Torontonians of the rich Indigenous history of the area. Brandon Rowe has more.

By Brandon Rowe

Many Torontonians and tourists alike flock to St. Lawrence Market throughout the week to do anything from weekly grocery shops to grabbing a bite to eat, but some are unaware of the rich Indigenous history associate with the market.

A plaque can be found right outside at Front and Jarvis Streets that shares the history of Chief Wabakinine, the chief of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation and the community that looked a lot different when he was alive.

“The goal was really to tell the story about the founding of Toronto the city and the creation of Ontario as a province,” said Chris Bateman, Plaques Manager at Heritage Toronto.

Chief Wabakinine was a key Indigenous leader in the 1700s and was at the forefront of leading the Mississaugas and even provided an important signature that helped shape many parts of the province, including in Toronto.

“His signature appears on the Niagara Purchase, the Brant track purchase and also on the first Toronto purchase,” said Chris “It’s actually not the Treaty 13 that covers Toronto today, it is a previous version of that. Due to his status, his signature is on that as well,” explained Bateman.

“He holds an important role because without his leadership the landscape of Toronto and Ontario would be very different,” he added.

He explained the location of the St. Lawrence Market has been a place of commerce for hundreds of years.

“Even before it officially became the market, [this] site was a place where Indigenous and non-Indigenous have come for hundreds of years to trade and sell goods. The area was on the waterfront as well. When you are heading down Jarvis, you’ll notice the lands dips, that was the shoreline of Lake Ontario,” shared Bateman.

Chief Wabakinine died in the area close to where his plaque now stands in 1796.

His plaque is one of a number of plaques that share the history of the city throughout Toronto. You can find a map of them through Heritage Toronto, who also offers walking tours which begin again in June.

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