Strange Street Indigenous Settlement


NOTE: This web page is a supplement to Spur Line Ironhorse Trail Loop hike web page as well as the Iron Horse To Transit Hub web page.


I have received satisfaction from leading hikes and especially finding new pathways. Having organized and led a few end-to-end hikes in my area (e.g. Grand Valley Trail, Bruce Trail, Avon Trail) in the past few years, I am looking for interesting loop walks in and near Waterloo Region. One resource used to be the Grand River Transit map that contained community trails and bike pathways in addition to bus routes. I used to buy that map each year for $2 and carry it with me. Since the implementation of the LRT, that combination paper map does not seem to be printed and hiking apps are being used more and more.

I have become familiar with the trails at Huron Natural Area and the Neutral Nation Archaeological Protected Area within the Strasburg Creek drainage system. You may wish to check Huron Natural Area - Hikes and History. One cannot help but become interested in the Indigenous and European history of these places.

During my research of local trails I came upon an online article by Joe Mancini (see below). He mentions the recent historical work of rych mills [author, Record columnist, past president of the Waterloo Historical Society, curator of the Victoria Park Gallery. Both Mr. Mancini and Mr. mills mention the discovery of an old Archaeological Report by David Boyle in which Boyle refers to the discovery of an indigenous settlement near our present day Iron Horse Trail.

One of my own resources is our son who is an archaeologist. I was able to acquire a PDF copy of the report by David Boyle (see excerpt below). It does appear that the Neutral Nation people did settle along Schneider Creek (south west of Grand River Hospital) and travelled southward to Lower Doon as did the Neutral Nation people who settled along Strasburg Creek near Huron Natural Area. Strasburg Creek forms a confluence with Schneider Creek in Upper Doon and then Schneider Creek forms a confluence with the Grand River in Lower Doon.

Below is information about how one can walk either of these old and natural pathways along or near Schneider Creek and Strasburg Creek and end up in Upper and/or Lower Doon.

Excerpt from Archaeological Report 1894-95

BoyleDavid Boyle

The yellowish image that appears below shows a portion of the text from the Archaeological Report 1894-95 by David Boyle (his picture to right).  Boyle refers to the discovery of an aboriginal settlement near the start of Schneider Creek on the outskirts of Berlin, Ontario. Today some historians call it the Strange Street Settlement. Details pertaining to the source of Boyle's report appear below the image. The image was captured from a PDF on file with the Ontario Government. See David Boyle (archaeologist) at Wikipedia and Ontario Heritage plaque for more about Boyle's background.

Excerpt from Boyle's report

Strange Street Settlement

Archaeological Report 1894-95 by David Boyle.
Appendix to the Report of the Minister of Education, Ontario. Printed by Order of the Legislative Assembly.
To the Honourable G. W. Ross, LL.D., Minister of Education.
The text shown above appears under the heading "Ontario Earthworks" on pages 34 & 35 of the document.
PDF file name: AARO 1896.pdf

Other Resources

One of the articles that I found very interesting and informative was Remembering Our Underlying Aboriginal Heritage by Joe Mancini, Good Work News, September 2011. The article appears as part of the Working Centre website and I encourage you to read the About Us portion of the Working Centre site. [PDF copy of  Remembering Our Underlying Aboriginal Heritage]

It is worth noting that Joe and Stephanie Mancini received the Order of Canada on the eve of Canada Day 2016 for their work as homeless advocates in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

Mr. Mancini refers to the aboriginal settlement location discovered and reported by David Boyle and mentions Jacob Stroh (1848-1935), the young archaeologist who accompanied Boyle. Both Boyle and Stroh are mentioned in Waterloo County historical accounts. Mr. Mancini also references the work of rych mills (see above).

Approximate Present Day Location of the Strange Street Aboriginal Settlement?

In the excerpt from Boyle's report (above) the spot explored by Boyle and Stroh is described as being located a little west of Berlin and south of the Waterloo general hospital in 1894-1895. In Joe Mancini's Remembering Our Underlying Aboriginal Heritage reference is made to the settlement being near a small trout stream and near our present day Glasgow Ave and Gage St. Mancini also refers to the historical research of rych mills who brought to light the 1894 Archaeological Report by David Boyle. mills published his research in Victoria Park: 100 Years of a Park and its People.

Based on the information I have read, it seems impossible to pinpoint the settlement exactly. However, as you walk southward along the Iron Horse Trail starting at Glasgow St towards Gage Ave, I have noticed that there is a bit of "ditch" especially after you pass under the CNR overpass and approach Gage Ave. After crossing Gage Ave explorations become interesting at Raddatz Park. If you remain on the paved Iron Horse Trail you end up a bit west of Victoria Park. Doing the walk on the groomed, paved section is great yet other sights that may be related to the Strange Street Indigenous Settlement are missed. Once you cross Gage Ave you can veer left (north east) off the paved Iron Horse Trail and walk along one of two footpaths closer to Schneider Creek. [NOTE: My old topo maps refer to the creek as a Schneider Creek branch. Recently the Region of Waterloo renamed and re-labelled this creek as Westmount Creek).]  Both footpaths take you to Cherry Street IF you remain on the footpath close to the creek. Since I first wrote this web page, the first half of the Iron Horse to Transit Hub Trail through Raddatz Park and through Cherry Park was completed (paved) over to Park Street. Check IronHorseToTransitHub for details.

South Footpath Option (dark blue on map below) - Cross Gage Ave and remain on the paved Iron Horse Trail for only a few metres. You will see the footpath amongst the weeds on the left. As you proceed on this footpath you will move away from the Iron Horse Trail staying closer to Westmount Creek (Schneider Creek) - see maps below. Remain on the path to Cherry Street.

North Footpath Option (green on map below) - Cross Gage Ave and turn left across the bridge passing over Westmount Creek (Schneider Creek). Follow the paved route Gage Ave into Raddatz Park (this is now a paved path) and follow the creek through the park. Eventually you will come to the end of Waverly Road. Leave the paved path and continue on the path past the dead end of Waverly Road with the creek on your right (if heading southward). Eventually you will arrive at Cherry Street.

Maps - Two maps appear below and show the two pathways that can be walked as a loop in association with the Iron Horse Trail. At the bottom of the page are two GPS files you may wish to download.

Parking - If you wish to walk this area and loop, I suggest parking at Victoria Park and walking north along the Iron Horse Trail. As you proceed north along the Iron Horse Trail you can veer right off the Iron Horse Trail at Cheery Street (43.446348, -80.510393) and walk up Cherry Street about 200 m to access one of the two footpaths.

I believe it may have been in this and adjacent areas near Westmount (Schneider) Creek that Dr. Boyle and Joseph Stroh found artifacts of the Neutral Nation Indigenous Settlement. The centre of the loop is almost due south of the present day Grand River Hospital (see the text of Boyle's report above). NOTE: About 2016-2017, the Region of Waterloo erected signs on regional roads where creeks pass under them. The signs provide the current name of the creek. It appears that several creek branches on my old topo maps (from the late 1940's and 1950's), that used to be called Schneider Creek (or tributaries there of), aren't any longer. The maps below show Schneider Creek but the sign erected at the intersection of Victoria/West & Strange Streets, where the creeks disappear under Victoria Street, indicates that the new name is Westmount Creek.


Loop Map



GPS Tracks for Download

HELP: If clicking on the links does not provide a download option, try RIGHT clicking the link (especially the .gpx file) and then choose "Save Links As" (or equivalent) from the drop-down menu. Pick a download location (e.g. desktop) for the file.

StrangeStreetSettlementLoop.gpx OR StrangeStreetSettlementLoop.kml