Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha Archaeological Site Interpretation Center
Virtual Museum of Canada

A Human Landscape

Presentation | Choosing a good location | Village lifeLonghouse architectureInterior layout

Choosing a good location

Choosing a good location

View of three Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site's longhouses with fish dryers in the foreground.

View of the Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site's longhouses

In regions where Iroquoian languages were spoken, from the Great Lakes to the area around Quebec City, the St. Lawrence Iroquoians established their villages along major waterways, choosing places with sandy soil and land that could be used for fields close by. For strategic and ecological reasons, these populations wanted their villages to be in an easily defended spot with well-drained soil. However, environmental and physiographical conditions in the Upper St. Lawrence seem to have led the region's first farmers to develop new adaptive strategies, for they opted to establish their villages on stony ridges at some distance from the St. Lawrence River. The settlement pattern shown by the Iroquoians at Saint-Anicet is thus distinct from most of the known sites dating to the same time in Quebec and southern Ontario.

In the 15th century, the Iroquoian populations living in the Upper St. Lawrence appear to have formed a fairly homogenous social entity that was culturally distinct from the populations occupying the regions around Montreal and further west. The Saint-Anicet area, with its three Iroquoian villages (McDonald, Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha and Mailhot/Curran), as well as the remains of numerous satellite hunting and fishing camps, has revealed an unparalleled cluster of sites representing the universe of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. Given its exceptional concentration of Iroquoian sites, this area may well have once been an Iroquoian province in the western part of the St. Lawrence Valley.


Did you know?

Did you know?


An important choice

The elders were responsible for choosing a site for a village and for identifying land that was suitable for agriculture. These tasks were very important and required an excellent knowledge of the surrounding environment. The task of clearing bush and cutting down trees was carried out by the men, who worked with ground stone axes and adzes. The village was a semi-permanent settlement: eventually the dwellings needed to be replaced, the soil in the fields was depleted and sources of firewood had been used up in the surrounding area. For these reasons, villages were abandoned every 10 to 20 years, and the communities living in them built new villages a few kilometres away.