The Muskoka Lakes Museum’s 1st Nations Gallery

Our 1st Nations Gallery serves to introduce you to the history of the First Nations people who lived, and still live, in Muskoka.

The replica wigwam is an example of an Anishnabek winter shelter, while the copy of Paul Kane’s 1845 painting shows a summer camp. The two authentic birch-bark canoes on display illustrate their boat-building skills. The Anishanabek, (also known as Ojibwe and Chippewa) used birch-bark for many things — everything from cooking pots to coverings for their dwellings. A number of early First Nations artifacts, some dating to 6000 B.C.E are also featured in the gallery.

Note the large maps on display. The one  shows the extent of the hunting grounds used by the Anishanabek families in the region in the mid 19th century, just prior to the area opening up for development. A second map, of the same scale, shows the First Nations reserves in the region today.



This large case in the gallery holds some beautifully crafted sweet grass baskets and quill-decorated boxes.

These items were made specifically for sale to the tourist trade, starting in the early 20th century. Take a few minutes to admire their intricate detail and consider the amount of time it took to create some of these ‘fancy goods’ as they were referred to back then.