Palaeozoic Path – History

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Palaeozoic Path - History
Palaeozoic Path in Short Hills Provincial Park near St. Catharines

Several interpretive signs line the Palaeozoic Path trail which is accessible from the entrance at Roland Rd.

This is one that gives some history of the area.

Niagara Peninsula’s original inhabitants, the ‘Neutral’ native peoples, were name for their neutrality between the warring Huron and Iroquois Nations. In 1650-51 the Iroquois finally conquered the Huron and the Neutrals were exterminated or absorbed into other tribes. Their presence remains today, as the word ‘Onghiara’, (Oniawgarah), means Thundering Waters or Great Waters and became ‘Niagara’. Their stone tools, such as axes, adzes, and drills, made from the flint-like chert at present day Lake Erie, have been found in the area.

Prior to 1791, over 900 acres of land was granted to Jebus Johnson and John Brown, the first pioneer farmers and United Empire Loyalists to come into contact with the land now within the boundaries of Short Hills Provincial Park. By the early 1800’s 200 acres in the area of the park had been transferred to Freeman Swayze. The land stayed in the Swayze family for many years, being transferred to three sons and used in a variety of ways: Hanging Inn on Pelham Stone Road (now Effingham Road), and mixed farming operations with a variety of animals and crops. The steep valleys were impractical to plough and left to reforest. Many trees in Short Hills were used for shipbuilding in the renowned Shickluna shipyard in St. Catharines.

In the 1960’s the Government of Ontario started to purchase land for a park. Land acquired between 1967 and 2002 now totals over 750 hectares (1800 acres). A Park Advisory committee was formed and held extensive public meetings in 1974. The Park was formally regulated in 1985 and after widespread public input from meetings starting in 1989, a formal management plan was produced in 1991. The Friends of Short Hills Park, a charitable not-for-profit organization, was incorporated in 1995 and supports the conservation and protection of this Natural Area Day Use Park.

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