Riverfest Elora would like to express our thanks to the Six Nations Community and acknowledge them as the traditional stewards and keepers of the land upon which our event is held. The Six Nations Community would also like to share some of their history in relation to this area with the attendees and patrons of Riverfest Elora.

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Six Nations of the Grand River and the Haldimand Treaty 

The Six Nations are part of the Iroquois Confederacy that dates back hundreds of years. They lived by hunting and fishing in extensive tracts of land throughout parts of Canada and the United States. During the Indian Wars, as a result of the fur trade, they subdued and conquered many nations of Indians in those areas. Six Nations did not in that era relinquish any of their territory by conquest or purchase, these being the only ways of obtaining rights of land.

In 1701, the Imperial Crown entered into treaty with Five Nations (later became the Six Nations) in which the Crown undertook to protect from disturbance or interference a large portion of lands the Six Nations had obtained from the Huron by conquest. This Treaty would ensure Six Nations’ right to exercise freely the right to pursue their economic livelihood utilizing the natural resources contained in the said Treaty Lands throughout central and southwestern Ontario. These rights to unmolested trade and commerce throughout the region was again affirmed the Five Nations in the Treaty of Utrecht. Our Treaty Rights as affirmed by the 1701 Fort Albany Treaty are protected under Section 35(1) of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982 and as such are subject to the Crown’s (Canada and Ontario) duty to consult and accommodate our broad range of interests. In addition to our undisturbed right to hunting and fishing, that consultation and accommodation includes Six Nations participation in environmental monitoring and revenue sharing by others intending to develop on and exploit any resources from within our 1701 Fort Albany Treaty lands.

When the American War of Independence ensued, some of the Six Nations sided with the British Crown and as a result lost nearly 6 million acres of land. Sir Frederick Haldimand was the Captain General and Governor in Chief of the Province of Quebec and Territories, and he issued the Haldimand Proclamation, also known as the Haldimand Treaty, to Six Nations. The Treaty Lands consisted of 6 miles on either side of the Grand River from the mouth to its source, which equalled approximately 950,000 acres. The Haldimand Treaty unequivocally promised that a tract of land six miles deep on each side of the Grand River from the rivers mouth to its source was to be laid out for Six Nations and their posterity to enjoy forever. However, Six Nations Tract as laid out is only 960 chains (12 miles) in total width with the area of the Grand River meandering between its outer limits. The area equal to the area of the Grand River remains an outstanding treaty land entitlement to the Six Nations people.

Since 1974, Six Nations has continued to investigate breaches of the Crown’s fiduciary obligation to manage Six Nations’ lands and resources in the best interest of Six Nations. This investigation involves archival researching into the ancestral/treaty lands of Six Nations including those conferred to Six Nations on October 25, 1784 by the Haldimand Treaty. As set out in the grant of land, the Crown had a duty to protect Six Nations’ lands for their sole use. In many cases, not only did the Government fail to do so, the officials of the Crown actively encouraged settlement upon those lands. As a result of this intrusion, the lands became unsuitable as hunting grounds and Six Nations was forced to find alternate means of support.

The following is one example of loss of Six Nations Haldimand Treaty lands which is in Elora and Fergus area:

Block 4 (Nichol Township) 

A document dated November 2, 1796, signed by Sachems and Warriors of Six Nations purported to appoint Captain Joseph Brant their attorney to surrender some 310,391 acres to the Crown for the purpose of sale to third parties. The lands described later comprised what were described as Blocks 1-4 and became the Townships of Dumfries, Waterloo, Woolwich, and Nichol.

On February 5, 1798, Captain Joseph Brant is said to have surrendered to the Crown on behalf of Six Nations, six large blocks of land containing an estimated 352,707 acres. The lands were identified as Blocks 1-6. Blocks 5 and 6 later became known as Townships of Moulton and Canborough. These lands were to be surrendered for the purpose of sale to specified third parties so that the proceeds from these sales could be used to provide Six Nations with a certain and permanent means of support.

By Order-in-Council of February 5, 1798, President Peter Russell accepted the surrender of the same date. President Russell also signed five deeds under the Seal of the Province of Upper Canada and instructed the Secretary of the Province of Upper Canada not to deliver the said deeds unless he received securities executed by the purchasers and persons appointed by the Crown to receive mortgages.

BLOCK 4 (Brief Summary) 

On February 5, 1798, Block 4 consisting of approximately 28,512 acres was surrendered but no purchaser or price was specified.

At a Six Nations Council Meeting held on September 23, 1806, Captain Joseph Brant nominated Thomas Clark as purchaser for Block 4.

By Memorial dated October 20, 1808, William Claus, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs and Six Nations Trustee, requested registration of Memorial No. 358 of Indenture of Mortgage of June 18, 1807, wherein Thomas Clark agreed to pay £3,564 within 1,000 years, with interest at the rate of half a dollar per acre for Block 4.

On November 23, 1832, the Six Nations Trustees discharged the June 18, 1807 mortgage from Thomas Clark. The Trustees certified that Clark had paid all the interest owing up to December 31, 1831 and that Clark had paid them £1,782 being the full balance due on the principal.


Joseph Brant’s Power of Attorney of November 2, 1796, from Six Nations only authorized a surrender to the Crown of Blocks 1-4, approximately 310,391 acres

and not the surrender of Blocks 1-6, approximately 352,707 acres. Consequently, Blocks 5 and 6 were not lawfully surrendered.

The Crown has not shown that all of the principal and interest owing from the sale of Block 4 was credited to the Six Nations Trust Fund Accounts.

Block 4 (Nichol Township) 

(Approximately 28,512 acres)

This is a representation of Block 4, also known as Nichol Township. 

(Outlined in Black)

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The following Information booklets can be viewed on www.sixnations.ca/LandsResources/

– Land Rights A Global Solution for the Six Nations of the Grand River

– Six Miles Deep

– Six Nations of the Grand River Land Rights, Financial Justice, Resolutions