Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha Archaeological Site Interpretation Center
Virtual Museum of Canada

Village life

Village life

Bird's eye view of a model showing emplacement of the Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site's longhouses, palisade and cultivated land. (model by Michel Cadieux)

Model showing the Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site planning
(model by Michel Cadieux)

Compared to other Iroquoian villages in southern Ontario and the rest of the St. Lawrence Valley, the Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site covers a truly impressive area. Extending over as much as 15 000 m2, or 1.5 hectares, (the equivalent of three soccer fields), the Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha site contains the remains of a dozen longhouses. The length of these dwellings was determined by the number of families that lived in them. While it is quite possible that the longhouses of Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha were protected by a palisade, the remains of such a wall remain to be found.

The village territory, which was occupied throughout the year, included gardens and cultivated fields. Iroquoian communities recognized two ways in which land could be owned: the gardens cultivated by women for their families' sustenance were privately owned, whereas the fields were communally owned by members of the same maternal line.

Daily life inside a longhouse
Quicktime video
5,3MB / time: 47"
Transcript | Download the QuickTime plugin

Politically, the village was a well-structured entity, headed by a chief who was normally selected by the clan mothers. Each person in the village could have a plot of land to cultivate. The clan mothers had jurisdiction over their respective longhouses. Together, the occupants of each longhouse formed an independent economic unit.


Central alley of a longhouse with family around the fire

The longhouses of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians could lodge up to 50 people, or about 10 families, who shared its central aisle and hearths.

Man preparing projectiles by attaching points.

During the winter months, the St. Lawrence Iroquoians carried out many of their daily activities within the longhouse walls.

Children learning how to manipulate tools for day-to-day life.

Under their parents' supervision, children learned the various techniques that had to be mastered to make and use tools.

Mother sitting near the fire while her daughter is scraping an animal skin.

The St. Lawrence Iroquoians made use of the diverse resources at their disposal to make clothing, hunting implements and pots for storing and cooking food.

Did you know?

Did you know?

Community living

There were few individual restrictions for those living in an Iroquoian community. Throughout their existence, people had to learn to live within a group that was larger than the immediate family. This enabled them to develop their autonomy and sense of responsibility – two values that were essential to leading a full life.

Iroquoian women, who were responsible for sowing, weeding and harvesting crops, had a more sedentary lifestyle than the men did. Apart from winter months, the men generally spent more time outside the village, hunting and fishing or going on trade and diplomatic expeditions.

Ancient engraving showing the frontal view of an ear of corn.

Engraving of an ear of corn