- Echo, Faithkeeper of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in 1832
The muddy waters of Ontario's Grand River conceal a dark and forgotten chapter in Canadian history - a story that represents both the greatest hopes of the region’s white settlers and the greatest fears of the Six Nations. Today, few who paddle, fish, swim, or live along this meandering, tranquil waterway are aware that for a brief period in the 19th century it was a fully operational canal, allowing thousands of schooners and steamers as long as 110 feet to travel more than 60 miles between Brantford and Lake Erie.
But the Six Nations remember. Since 1784, the Grand River Valley has been their home. For assisting the British in the American Revolutionary War they were given six miles on either side of the river, from it’s source to it’s mouth when their own lands were expropriated by the newly formed United States. However, with the dawning of the 19th century and the cessation of American hostilities, the Six Nations became an obstacle to the settlement of Upper Canada in the eyes of the colonial government.
The construction of the Welland Canal gave the government and a handful of entrepreneurs an idea for accelerating the settlement process in the Grand River Valley – a system of locks and dams that would make the river navigable. Conceived with an air of colonial optimism in an age of ‘canal fever;’ the Grand River Navigation Company sought to bring settlers, civilization, and most of all wealth to the river valley – and it did, briefly. But the lasting legacy of the canal system would be one of starvation, flooded and appropriated lands, antagonism within the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the evaporation of the Six Nation’s substantial trust fund. While the slow, constant flow of the Grand's waters have long ago healed the physical cuts caused by the Navigation Company, wounds in the relationship between the Six Nations and the communities along the river remain.
This documentary will be an attempt to stir debate on this little-known, unresolved and complicated chapter in the history of Canada that was thrown into the national spotlight by the events in Caledonia in 2006. For the first time, individuals and organizations along the Grand have agreed to come together to acknowledge the past and explore answers for the future.Project Status: Pre-Production
Estimated Release Date: TBA