The Madawaska, York and Mississippi Rivers were certainly familiar to the later Hurons, Algonquins, Iroquois and Ojibway indians, who at various times controlled the 3,120 square miles drained by Madawaska waters as their battle for trade and furs ebbed and flowed across Ontario before and after arrival of the Europeans. Weslemkoon Lake was the site of the first Indian battle.

When the French arrived in Ontario shortly after 1600, Samuel de Champlain traveling by the Bay of Quinte-Trent River route to the Georgian Bay came in contact with the Hurons and found them in control of a great monopolistic trading and manufacturing empire reaching to the far north and west. Later the Jesuit fathers explored part of it as they traveled inland with Algonkian trading allies of the Hurons.

Motivated by economics and their own exhausted beaver and other trade furs, the Iroquis were forced to secure new sources of furs or perish. Their trade had been with the Dutch and the English to the south.


Moise Franswa
Circa 1940's
Madawaska River


The Iroquis occupation after 1649 was neither peaceful nor uneventful as they engaged in a death struggle with the French and their Algonkian allies. It was a time of general unrest among Indian tribes.

In Carlow township, stories persist of the great Indian battle at Francoisí Mountain overlooking the Conroy Marsh, long time home of Xavier Francois. His Algonkian grandfather fought a running battle with the Mohawks down the Mississippi from Weslemkoon Lake. Although Algonquins and Mohawks tribes were reinforced by fresh warriors, the battle ended in a stalemate after bloody slaughter on the mountain at the mouth of the York River. There is a grave site on top of the mountain where many Indian warriors were killed and interred.


Moise Franswa Homestead, Conroy Marsh
Circa early 1900's
Lower Craigmont Road


People from Madonna House, when they were building their first building and clearing the land in 1947 found a couple of bushel baskets of Indian arrow heads, pieces of pottery and other artifacts. Several other local residents have also found Indian artifacts along the many beaches of Negeek Lake and the Madawaska River.


Canadian Martyr's Shrine
Dafoe Road