Algonquin Territory

Since Time Immemorial

An Algonquin family near Maniwaki, Quebec. (“Indian Encampment On Desert And Gatineau Rivers”). Watercolour by A. W. Holdstock, c. 1870 / National Archives of Canada, C-040098.
Algonquin couple, circa 1775.

Since Time Immemorial, the Algonquin Anishinaabeg have lived and thrived in the area that is now known as the Ottawa River watershed or Kiji Sibi. The Algonquin nation controlled the Kiji Sibi and inhabited this region, trading with the Mohawk, Ojibwe and Cree. In the 1600s, the Algonquin encountered Samuel de Champlain and Pierre Esprit Radisson. In the 17th century, the Algonquin had allied with the French, helping them move north into Huron/Wendat territory.

The Algonquin nation is today made up of eleven communities inhabiting Ontario and Quebec.

An Algonquin family encamped on the shore of the Ottawa River before the settlement of Bytown, facing what is now the entrance to the Rideau Canal and Parliament Hill. Watercolour by Henry Pooley, 1833 / National Gallery of Canada.


The first colonial settlement in the area was founded by Philemon Wright, a New Englander from Woburn, Massachusetts, who arrived with a few families in 1800.  Together they established a small farming community called Wright’s Town on the north bank of the Ottawa River at the Chaudière Falls (now Gatineau, Quebec), that soon grew as a result of the squared timber and sawed lumber industry.  Settlement on what is now the Ottawa side of the river occurred later.  In 1826, Lieutenant-Colonel John By was appointed to oversee the construction of a canal which could serve as a safe military supply route to Kingston along the Rideau River.  By was also instructed to divide the surrounding area into lots, as a result of which Bytown was founded in September of that year.  In 1855 it was incorporated as the City of Ottawa.

The settlement of Wright and his followers and the logging practices that marked the following decades warranted protests from the original Algonquin Anishinaabeg inhabitants of the region. In response to the non-Indigenous settlement of the area, th Algonquin Nation has pitched three territorial claims. The region today remains unceded and unsurrendered.

This view from 1845, shows the state of settlement two decades after the foundation of Bytown and three years before the foundation of the college that would evolve into the University of Ottawa. Shown in red, already cleared and worked into farmland, is the area of Sandy Hill not far from the canal where the institution would relocate in 1856. Thomas Burrows, “Lower Bytown, from the Barrack Hill, near the head of the Eighth Lock and the Sappers’ Bridge, 1845” / Archives of Ontario.

Indigenous Affirmation

In recent years, the University of Ottawa has adopted a statement of Indigenous Affirmation to recognize the Algonquin nation and the city’s diverse Indigenous population. Written by the Indigenous Affairs team in partnership with the Indigenous Education Council, Indigenous student groups, and members of the local Indigenous community, and translated in Anishinabemowin by Joan Commanda Tenasco of Kitigan Zibi, it reads as follows:

Ni manàdjiyànànig Màmìwininì Anishinàbeg, ogog kà nàgadawàbandadjig iyo akì eko weshkad. Ako nongom ega wìkàd kì mìgiwewàdj.

Ni manàdjiyànànig kakina Anishinàbeg ondaje kaye ogog kakina eniyagizidjig enigokamigàg Kanadàng eji ondàpinangig endàwàdjin Odàwàng.

Ninisidawinawànànig kenawendamòdjig kije kikenindamàwin; weshkinìgidjig kaye kejeyàdizidjig.

Nigijeweninmànànig ogog kà nìgànì sòngideyedjig; weshkad, nongom; kaye àyànikàdj.

We pay respect to the Algonquin people, who are the traditional guardians of this land.

We acknowledge their longstanding relationship with this territory, which remains unceded.

We pay respect to all Indigenous people in this region, from all nations across Canada, who call Ottawa home.

We acknowledge the traditional knowledge keepers, both young and old.

And we honour their courageous leaders: past, present, and future.