Major Temporal Phases, Abenaki Periods and Facts

A “timeline” is a tool that is used in several scientific disciplines related to the study of mankind or the earth, such as history, geology and archaeology. It provides a logical, chronological summary of the different periods in human history and the occupation of the earth. Events are arranged in temporal order on a single axis to provide an overview of them and their duration.

Our timeline highlights the human occupations and important dates associated with the colonization of northeastern North America, from 10 000 B.C.  to today.

Palaeo-Indian Period, 10,000 to 8,000 B.C.

Amerindian populations discovered the area that had been recently exposed by the melting glacier and then recolonized by plants and wildlife. The climate at the time was colder than it is today. Caribou were probably the preferred prey of hunters, who killed them with spears fitted with long fluted points. The points were finely worked and made from very resistant rock.

Archaic Period, 8,000 to 1,000 B.C.

Aboriginal groups were now found in most parts of southern Québec, where they exploited a wide range of plant and animal species. A large variety of polished stone tools were now used in addition to flaked stone ones. The dead were buried with funeral offerings and red ochre. Native copper, often in the form of nodules, was hammered into points, knives, fish hooks, adornments and so forth.

Woodland Period, 1,000 B.C. to 1534 A.D.

Aboriginal populations, who had always been nomadic, gradually became sedentary to varying degrees. They used pottery for cooking meat, wild plants, and corn or squash, which were cultivated during the last few centuries of this period. Aboriginal nations witnessed the subdivision of their territory by boundaries delineated by newcomers from Europe.

  • The Abenakis occupied a vast area stretching from eastern North America’s coastline to the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. This area currently encompasses New England, the eastern part of the Eastern Townships and the southern part of the Centre-du-Québec region. The Abenakis lived in semi-permanent villages erected along rivers and lakes, according to their hunting, fishing and gathering activities. They also bartered goods with neighbouring communities.

Transition or Contact Period, 1534 to 1650

As of 1500 A.D., European fishermen and explorers traded furs on a small scale with Aboriginal people from the east coast of North America, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence Valley. First Nations groups thus became familiar with the European products that they could obtain in exchange for furs. Copper and pewter adornments, knives, iron axes, copper kettles and glass beads were the most popular objects. Abenakis played an active role in the fur trade. The Saint-François River was one of the north-south waterways they used to reach the St. Lawrence. European explorers’ early accounts mention the presence of Sokoki and Abenaki camps along the Saint-François River.

Historic Period: French Regime, 1608 to 1760

In the early 17th century, the French established trading posts and missions in New France. The first permanent settlement in North America was built on Saint Croix Island  (Acadia) by Pierre du Gua de Monts and Samuel de Champlain. The French colony grew with the founding of Québec (1608), Trois-Rivières (1634) and Ville-Marie (Montréal, 1642). The period was marked by the Iroquois Wars, waged to gain possession of fur-trading territories, and by numerous epidemics that decimated Aboriginal populations. The fur trade continued to be the main commercial activity in New France.

  • Father Sébastien Rasle, the first Jesuit missionary to the Abenakis, was killed when the Narantsouak (Norridgewock) mission on the Kennebec River in Maine was attacked and burned.
  • In reaction to the presence of the British on Abenaki territory in New England, Abenaki warriors attacked British villages with the help of the French.
  • Between 1690 and 1700, the Jesuits built a mission on the Saint-François River. Fathers Bigot, Loyard and Aubery were the first missionaries. 
  • In 1704, Royal Engineer Levasseur de Néré drew up a plan to fortify the mission and undertook construction work on the fort.
  • In 1752, Royal Engineer Louis Franquet visited the fort and mission at Odanak while on an inspection tour.
  • In 1759, the Odanak mission was destroyed by fire during an attack by Captain Robert Rogers and a detachment of Rangers. The attack was carried out under the orders of Commander Amherst. 

British Regime, 1760 to 1867

As of 1759, British forces attacked New France and overthrew the governing authorities. The British then introduced legislative and administrative conditions to assimilate the French Catholic colonists.

  • 1760: reconstruction of the church at Odanak in wood.
  • 1819: destruction of the wooden church by fire.
  • 1828: reconstruction of the church in stone not far from the location of the old wooden church.
  • 1838: construction of an Anglican church nearby.
  • 1845: construction of a presbytery.
  • 1862: construction of the present-day Anglican church.

On the first of July 1867, the Canadian Confederation reunites provinces, colonies and the North American territories to form a new federal state, the Dominion of Canada, a dominion of the British Empire. The government, in its expansionist policy, ratify territories treaties with the various indigenous peoples. Aboriginal lose all power with the Indian Act.

Modern Period, 1867 to Today

The Indian Act is the main federal law that deals with Registered Indians, their bands and their reserve system. It was adopted in 1876 under the Constitution Act, 1867, which gave the federal government exclusive authority over "Indians and land reserved for Indians”.

In most parts of Canada, Aboriginal people had the right to vote as of Confederation (1867), but, in order to exercise this right, they had to give up certain rights they had acquired through treaties or their status, according to a process of enfranchisement provided for in the Indian Act. However, since the majority of Aboriginal people lived in remote regions, it was virtually impossible for them to vote. It was not until 1960 that the Government of Canada granted Aboriginal people the unconditional right to vote.

In 1985, the Canadian government announced that it was putting an end to discrimination against Aboriginal people. Amendments to the Indian Act enabled First Nations groups to live according to their own rules and to set up councils that would manage and take position on internal and external affairs pertaining to Aboriginal reserves.

  • 1867: first Indian Act.
  • 1876: Indian Act.
  • 1887: construction of a catholic church in Odanak.
  • 1900: fire at the stone church in Odanak; reconstruction of the interior.
  • 1951: Indian Act in its present form.
  • 1951: amendment of the Indian Act (C-31).
  • 1965: opening of the Musée des Abénakis in Odanak.
  • 2005: expansion of the Musée des Abénakis in Odanak.
  • 2012: amendment of the Indian Act (C-45).