Pioneer Life in Upper Canada

Aboriginal Peoples Helping the Pioneers


     Many of the Native peoples were excellent farmers and taught the early settlers how to make the best use of the land.  The women of the Iroquois Nation had the very important responsibility for farming and taught the settlers how to grow strong, healthy corn.  Choosing the strongest and largest kernels for planting was important and fertilizing the soil with fish helped the plants to grow tall and healthy.  This was wonderful for the settlers because they learned to use the corn for many things.
     The Native people showed the settlers how to make good use of the space available by planting other seeds with the corn.  They planted beans under the corn stalks and the beans grew up the stalks, using them for support.  Pumpkins and squash were also planted under the corn and had lots of room to spread.  This method of farming was used for many years.
     Once the corn was ripe and ready to pick, the settlers then learned how to cook the delicious vegetable and how to dry the kernels for grinding.  The Native people taught the settlers to grind the corn into a kind of flour called cornmeal which was used for making pudding, porridge and bread.  The Native people taught them to make bannock, a type of bread that was enjoyed by all.
     Early settlers were also shown how to dry corn in cribs and use it later for feeding the animals.  They also showed settlers how to heat the kernels for a special treat.  We call it popcorn!

Source: Long Ago Before I Was Born:
A Look At Life in Early Settler Times - A Unit for Grade 3