As we’re about to offer one of our new walking tours for a class at Ryerson University, Truth and Reconciliation on the Streets of Toronto, we thought we should share with you an update on the range of tours we’ve developed in recent months and years, and ask for your feedback.

First Story Toronto Tours began in 1995 with a bus tour called “The Great Indian Bus Tour.” Our name has changed since then, and we’ve developed a MOBILE APP app for self-directed exploration as well (the app is free and available for iOS and Android phones and tablets.)

We currently offer three BUS TOURS that are introductory, visiting locations in east-end Toronto, downtown, and west-end Toronto. Each lasts 3 hours and surveys some of our big topics linking them to historic Indigenous locations, such as the Age-old trail that is now Davenport Road, the sites of Seneca, Wendat and Mississauga villages, sacred ossuaries, carrying place routes, and much more. Next year, we hope to add some half-day and full-day bus tours to locations outside Toronto that help illuminate the Toronto story while also making for a great road trip outside the city!

Our growing list of WALKING TOURS allow us to explore topics in more depth. We are developing many more new tours, and here are the topics and landscapes we now offer, usually over 2 hours:

  • Correcting Toronto’s Origin Story (waterfront)
  • Ancestors & Identity (North York)
  • Don River Valley history – Wonscotanach
  • Evergreen Brick Works, Mud Creek & Don River
  • Food Landscapes of Indigenous Toronto (waterfront)
  • High Park
  • Humber River Valley – Cobechenonk
  • Intersecting Highways of Indigenous History (Hyw 401 and Humber River)
  • Native Canadian Centre and Ishpaadina (Bloor & Spadina)
  • Pan Am Path (waterfront)
  • Place Names & Commemorations (Roncesvalles, Parkdale)
  • Rosedale Ravine (St. Clair E. to Yonge/Bloor)
  • Toronto Islands
  • Toronto Treaties, not “Toronto Purchase” (around Fort York)
  • Truth & Reconciliation on the Streets of Toronto (Ryerson to Allan Gardens)
  • University of Toronto (downtown campus)
  • Winter Life (Avenue Rd and Eglinton)

We’d love to hear any ideas or questions YOU have. Write us at

And if you have a class, church group, staff, department, or group of friends who’d like to book a BUS or WALKING tour with us, let us send you more detailed information about itineraries and costs.

2 Events honouring Indigenous sites in Toronto on Sept 21

Coincidentally, two groups are honouring different sites in Toronto with important ties to our Indigenous history, on the same day: Wednesday September 21.

At 2pm, the Sandhill Site at 1 Bloor St. West will host The Sandhill Ceremony with Chief Stacey LaForme and Elder Garry Sault from the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, together with City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam will commemorate the burial ground that once existed here. Whereas settler bodies were reinterred in the Toronto Necropolis (“City of the Dead”), Indigenous bodies were not relocated and were reportedly lost in the new construction work of the 19th century. (Free admission, no reservation necessary.)

In the evening, from 6-8pm, Heritage Toronto is hosting a Heritage Night and Open House at The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street West. The occasion is the installation of a plaque to honour Six Nations athlete TOM LONGBOAT. Longboat trained at The Great Hall in the early 20th century when it was The West End YMCA. He went on to compete in the Boston Marathon in 1907, finishing first and setting a new course record. In addition to the plaque, the building’s venue, The Lower Hall, will be officially renamed Longboat Hall. Admission is free but spaces are limited so reserve here:

Indigenous Waterways, Sunday Sept. 11


You are invited to “Indigenous Waterways”, a full day event organized by the Toronto Green Community in partnership with First Story, Evergreen Brick Works and Sustainability Network.

We will work together to build connections and strengthen the capacity of Toronto’s diverse communities to take action by providing an indigenous approach on relating to and caring for our watersheds.

The day’s agenda will include:

Keynote speaker: Josephine Mandamin, Ojibwe Grandmother & Water Walker

– A Water Ceremony and traditional singing, dancing and drumming
– Panel presentations highlighting challenges facing our waterways and solutions-based initiatives
– A First Story Walk around the Evergreen Brick Works grounds
– A Community Canoe planting with Homegrown National Park & David Suzuki Foundation
…and a great opportunity for networking!

We hope you will join us to share and discover Indigenous knowledge, enjoy fun activities, make connections, explore Lost Rivers and find out how you can help build a blue-green city! 

Event Details 
Sunday, September 11, 2016
10:00am to 5:30pm
BMO Atrium, Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Avenue
Tickets: $25.00 per person

To buy tickets and register for the event

Join us this weekend for our Doors Open Toronto walk

This weekend, as part of the city-wide Doors Open Toronto festival, we are launching a new walking tour:


We’re offering this FREE 90-minute walk four times over the weekend:

Starting at 11am & 2pm, on both Saturday and Sunday May 28-29

We’ll meet at Yonge & Gould, on the steps of the new Ryerson Student Learning Centre, and end at Allan Gardens a few blocks away.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its Final Report and its 94 Calls to Action one year ago. All Canadians were challenged to reflect on what they can do to repair the damage done in Indigenous communities and cultures by “Indian Residential Schools.” There wasn’t one in the city of Toronto but our city was implicated from the very beginning.

On this walk we’ll visit church, government & educational sites connecting us to that history and we’ll challenge each other about what we can do individually & collectively to repair the relationship.

Toronto was part of “Indian Residential Schools” from the beginning. Now it’s time to be part of the solution.

To keep crowds manageable, we’ve been asked to limit each walk to 50 people so if you’re interested, please reserve online here:

(And if you’d like to volunteer on one or more of the walks, to help with traffic, etc., send us a message at

Want to read the TRC’s Final Report? You can download the Summary here:

And you can download the 94 Calls to Action here:


FREE First Story Walking Tours this weekend

This year, First Story is participating in the 10th annual Jane’s Walk festival. More than 100 FREE walking tours are happening all weekend, including 2 by First Story (alone or in partnership with friends from compatible projects). Here’s our list of events, but have a look at the complete list – your neighbourhood may be there waiting for you to discover its secrets!

Jane’s Walks are free, locally organized walking tours, in which people get together to explore, talk about and celebrate their neighbourhoods. Where more traditional tours are a bit like walking lectures, a Jane’s Walk is more of a walking conversation. Leaders share their knowledge, but also encourage discussion and participation among the walkers.

FIRST STORY TORONTO’s tours this weekend:

* SATURDAY, MAY 7, at 4:30pm, starting at the Spadina Wave-deck (Queens Quay West at the foot of Spadina):

An Alternate Version of Toronto’s Origin Story: Torontonians are beginning to appreciate that this isn’t a “new place.” We’ll explore sites on the waterfront that tell a fuller, more inclusive story of the 12,000 years of Toronto history. Details here:

(Come early and enjoy the BBQ hosted by the nearby Harbourfront Neighbourhood Centre starting at 3:30pm)

Rosary Spence, Mountie, Simcoe portrait_2015Aug6_lr

* SUNDAY, MAY 8, at 2pm, starting at the Allenby Public School, Avenue Rd at St. Clements Ave (4 blocks north of Eglinton)

Mud Creek: the Path of our Past, Present and Future

Led by First Story and our friends at Toronto Green Community and Lost Rivers, we’ll explore the deep roots of the neighbourhood, tracing back to the time of the Wendat, then on to the present with a view towards reconciling our relations with each other and Mother Earth. Following the route of the buried Mud Creek, visit the site of the former Wendat village and ossuary perched on the hill where Allenby Public School is today. We’ll recall the Pears Brickyard and ask whether the clay was used by Wendat potters centuries earlier. And we’ll end at Eglinton Park and its Community Garden with a Worm Composter. Hear about Rain Gardens and the Three Sisters. What’s in a name? How many streets, buildings, and sites in Toronto maintain their original Indigenous names? Where did Mud Creek start and end? Where can we find it now? Do you know about other Lost Rivers in Toronto? For more details:

Jackes site, Wendat Village_Kocsis

And stay tuned for information about the very important tour we will host during the Doors Open Toronto citywide festival, May 28-29.

To learn more about Toronto’s Huron-Wendat heritage

We know that some folks attending our Winter Solstice Walk tomorrow (Dec. 20, 2015) will want to learn more about Toronto’s Huron-Wendat connections and today’s Wendat and Wyandotte communities, so we’re providing the reading list and links below to be of assistance.

(Let us know if you think we’ve overlooked any books, key articles or websites.)


The French-language website for the Huron-Wendat First Nation in Wendake, Quebec (near Quebec City.)

• Wendake’s Visitor’s Guide to their beautiful hotel, museum, tours, etc.

• Some words and expressions in the Wendat language.

Wyandot of Anderdon Nation.

Wyandot Nation of Kansas.

Wyandotte Nation of Oklahama.


cover_Dispersed but Not Destroyed

Since the list below is long (but by no means complete) we can recommend the ones in RED as great introductions.

Garrad, Charles. 2003. “Commemorating the 350th Anniversary of the Dispersal of the Wyandots from Ontario and Celebrating Their Return.” Research Bulletin No. 35, Petun Research Institute. Downloadable from the website of the Petun Research Institute

Garrad, Charles. 1999. “New Wyandot Indian Confederacy Established” in Arch Notes (bi-monthly newsletter of the Ontario Archaeological Association), New Series Volume 4, Issue 6, November/December 1999, pp. 21-22.

Garrad, Charles. April 2014. Petun to Wyandot: the Ontario Petun from the 16th Century. Gatineau/Ottawa: Canadian Museum of Civilization/University of Ottawa Press.

Heidenreich, Conrad Edmund. 1971. Huronia: a history and geography of the Huron Indians 1600 – 1650. Toronto : McClelland & Stewart.

Labelle, Kathryn Magee. 2013. Dispersed But Not Destroyed: a history of the Seventeenth-Century Wendat People. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Lainey, Jonathan. 2004. La «Monnaie des Sauvages» Les colliers de wampum d’hier à aujourd’hui. Québec: Septentrion.

Seeman, Erik R. 2011. The Huron-Wendat Feast of the Dead: Indian-European Encounters in Early North America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Sioui, Georges E., & Kathryn Magee Labelle. 2014. “The Algonquian-Wendat Alliance: A Case Study of Circular Societies.” Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 34(1), 171−83.

Sioui, Georges. 2003. “Canada: its cradle, its name, its spirit: The Stadaconan contribution to Canadian culture and identity.” Canadian Issues. Fall, 24−29.

Sioui, Georges E. 1992. For an Amerindian Autohistory: an essay on the foundations of a social ethic. Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press.

(A Huron-Wendat born and raised in Wendake, Georges Sioui is the first to present guidelines for the study of Native history from an Amerindian point of view.)

Sioui, Georges E., and Dalie Giroux. 2009. Histories of Kanatha: Seen and Told (Bilingual Edition.) Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.

(The first collection written by an Aboriginal Canadian on the Aboriginal understanding of history and the colonial experience.)

Sioui, Georges E., and Jane Brierley. 2000. Huron-Wendat: Heritage of the Circle. Vancouver: UBC Press. Georges Sioui tells the history of his people, providing readers with a fascinating look at Wendat society and its rich legacy for Canada and the modern world.

Steckley, John. 2013. The eighteenth-century Wyandot: a clan-based study. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Steckley. John. 2007. A Huron-English/English-Huron dictionary (listing both words and non noun and verb roots). Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press.

Steckley, John L. 2007. Words of the Huron. Kitchener: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.       (An investigation into seventeenth-century Huron culture through a kind of linguistic archaeology of a language that almost died midway through the twentieth century.)

Trigger, Bruce G. 1987. The Children of Aataentsic: a history of the Huron people to 1660. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Trigger, Bruce G. 1990, 1969. The Huron: Farmers of the North, SECOND EDITION.  Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

Trigger, Bruce G. 1985. Natives and Newcomers: Canada’s “Heroic Age” Reconsidered. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Warrick, Gary. 2008. A Population History of the Huron-Petun, A.D. 500-1650. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Williamson, Ronald F. and Jennifer Birch. 2013. The Mantle Site: An Archaeological History of a Huron-Wendat Community. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press (Issues in Eastern Woodlands Archaeology series).               (This is the first detailed analysis of a completely excavated northern Iroquoian community, a sixteenth-century ancestral Wendat village near Stouffville northeast of Toronto. The site resulted from the coalescence of multiple small villages into one well-planned and well-integrated community.)

– compiled by Brian MacLean, Dec. 19, 2015

Planning our first Winter Solstice Walk!

Several of us met again today to walk the itinerary of our first-ever winter-themed Indigenous walk, as part of our ongoing research and planning for the public walk you’re invited to join  on Sunday Dec. 20th, beginning at 2pm.

First Story Toronto is collaborating with Toronto Green Community and its two projects, Lost Rivers and Rivers Rising, to blend landscape and watershed awareness with Indigenous stories and sites in midtown Toronto.

We’ll begin at 2pm at the site of the 550-year-old Huron-Wendat village situated where Allenby School now sits, at Avenue Road and St. Clements Avenue.

Jackes site, Wendat Village_Kocsis                                                                                     Drawing of site by Ivan Kocsis, commissioned by R.O.M.

On this particular walk, Huron-Wendat history and culture will be our primary focus, but we hope to have Anishinaabe and Cree members adding their memories and perspectives on Winter topics.

We’d love to hear your suggestions too! Write us at with any memories, ideas and suggestions you have for making a Winter Walk an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone. And join us on Dec. 20th for this FREE event!

Our inaugural Winter Walk:

Sunday, Dec. 2oth, 2-4:30pm (includes indoor craft and storytelling in final hour)

Starting at: SW corner of Avenue Road and St. Clements Avenue, at 2pm

Ending at: North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, in Eglinton Park (200 Eglinton West, at Oriole Parkway)

Longhouse 1_Eglinton Park


Join us at this year’s YIMBY Festival

We’re looking forward to participating in the YIMBY Festival this Saturday, Oct. 31 from 11am-3pm. Free admission to all.

The “Yes in My Backyard” Festival will feature 104 non-profit groups who are having fun promoting positive change in Toronto: social, environmental, heritage, planning, arts, parks, social media, and so on.

Each of us will have a table and spokespeople to talk to you about what they’re doing (and how you might join if the issue interests you.)

If you haven’t met anyone from First Story yet, come say hi to us! And bring your questions and suggestions.

And join us for our 30-minute presentation from 2:30-3pm. We’ll be giving a sneak preview of our first-ever Winter Walking tour, planned in collaboration with Toronto Green Community and their Lost Rivers project!

WHEN: Saturday, October 31st from 11am – 3pm
WHERE: at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University (55 Dundas St. W).

Free First Story bus tour this Saturday, to “Maadaadizi / Summer Journeys” celebration at Rouge Beach

We’ve had a fun summer collaborating with the Pan Am Path folks. In June we hosted a full week of guided tours along the waterfront and our exciting TALKING TORONTO TREATIES event.

Now, we’re helping with the Grand Finale of the 14-week-long Pan Am Path ART RELAY.

We’re offering free bus shuttles on Saturday to the Grand Finale event at beautiful Rouge Beach, where the Rouge River meets Lake Ontario (Kanadario). A full afternoon of family entertainments wil be followed by a stunning evening presentation.

Please join us for a wonderful celebration of Indigenous arts and the natural beauty of a historic place. See details below about how to book seats on one of our 7 free bus shuttles leaving the Native Centre Saturday afternoon, Aug. 15. One of our tour guides will share Tkaronto stories with you on the trip to Rouge Beach.

Maadaadizi / Summer Journeys
the Grand Finale of the Pan Am Path’s Art Relay

At Maadaadizi (“begin a journey,” in Ojibwe),  and spend a perfect summer day being inspired by Indigenous art in a beautiful area of Tkaronto, Scarborough’s Rouge Beach

The featured sunset event, ‘The Great Chief Star’ is an original 45 minute journey into Indigenous cosmology. This original work is led by visual artist Jason Baerg and includes Santee Smith, Erin Fortier, J-S Gauthier, Michael Red and Tanya Tagaq on a futuristic mission to heal water.

Afternoon family activities include the All Our Relations Métis Women’s Drum Circle, Nimkii Osawamick and hoop dancing, Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Parks Canada Environmental talks and Lantern Making with Red Pepper Spectacle Arts. Culinary arts by: Tea N Bannock.

Maadaadizi:Summer Journeys_Aug15

FREE. Spend the day at the Beach.

Bring sunscreen, a swimsuit, water and a light coat for the evening. Light your lantern creation and be a part of the Sunset Performance! 

First Story Toronto Tour / Free Shuttle Service:

Explore the Indigenous history of Tkaronto with First Story’s storytellers on a FREE shuttle bus to the event.
Pickup location, Saturday afternoon:
Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, 16 Spadina Road (across from Spadina subway stn.)
Free tour shuttle service (buses depart every hour) from 1pm to 7pm.
RESERVE your seat on one of our hourly departures:

For more information:
There will be return shuttle buses leaving Rouge Beach between 10:15pm-11pm.

Indigenous Food Vendors Featuring:

Tea N Bannock:

Directions / Google Map & Parking:

195 Rouge Hills Dr., Toronto ON, M5H 2N2

Parking at Rouge Hill GO Station & West Rouge Community Centre (270 Rouge Hills Drive)

Program Schedule:

Noon to 3:30 PM – Environmental Talks, Parks Canada
Noon to 4:45 PM – Drumming, Singing and Hoop Dance Workshops
2:00 PM – 7:30 PM – Lantern Making Workshop
8:00 to 8:30 PM – Opening Songs with Cheryl L’HIrondelle & Friends and Special Guests
8:30 PM to 9:00 PM – Music Composition, Michael Red
9:00 to 9:45 PM – “The Great Chief Star” ~ Featured Sunset Presentation featuring Tanya Tagaq and Santee Smith. Maadaadizi:Summer Journeys_Aug15_cover

Explore Toronto Through The Pan Am Path

More Videos / Path TV:

Full Event Map & Calendar:
Path Music & Map App:
Hashtags: #PanAmPath #ArtRelay

Download the free FIRST STORY TORONTO APP here:



Amazing Events not to be missed this summer!

This is an amazing summer in Toronto for experiencing Indigenous cultures at multiple events! We don’t think there’s ever been a greater opportunity to meet more creative people from First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada.

Last month, First Story Toronto hosted daily tours of Indigenous Toronto for an entire week, and capped it by hosting an unprecedented TALKING TORONTO TREATIES event.

On Monday, July 20, you can attend another Talking Toronto Treaties event – the premiere of our video covering our treaty history from 1649 to the present! Our treaty historians Jesse Thistle and Zach Smith will be on hand to introduce their video and answer questions afterward:

“We identify the relevant communities, touch upon their histories of interaction and conflict, and the diplomatic means – treaties – by which they managed to forge relations of peace between themselves and later, with European powers. Included among these are the Peace of Montreal and Dish with One Spoon (1701), the Treaty of Niagara and the Covenant Chain – where we made peace with the British  – (1764), the treaties made with the British by the Mississauga (1787-88, 1805-06), the Williams Treaties (1923) and finally, the conclusion of the Mississauga’s of the New Credit Toronto land claim (2010).”

WHERE: The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, 16 Spadina Road (1 block N. of Bloor)

WHEN: Monday July 20, 6pm


And elsewhere, the ABORIGINAL PAVILION is in full swing on the grounds of Fort York and and later at Harbourfront Centre. This 19-day Indigenous arts, culture and sports festival runs concurrent to the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am games from July 10-26 and August 7-9 this year. From Main Stage musical performances to dance, theatre and family programming on the Small Stage, from visual arts and traditional crafts workshops to artist talks, film screenings, a curated exhibition, there’s much to see and do!

Check out the Aboriginal Pavilion’s SCHEDULE here:   And it’s all FREE!

And then comes Planet IndigenUS 2015: 300 artists over 10 days from from July 30-August 9, co-hosted by Harbourfront Centre in Toronto and the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford. Planet IndigenUS is a global exploration of contemporary Indigenous civilizations. Since 2004, this bi-annual festival has been raising public awareness, breaking stereotypes and fostering a cross-cultural dialogue between Canadians. Enjoy music, art, food and ideas from First Nations communities across Canada and Indigenous peoples around the world.

Check out the Planet IndigenUS’s SCHEDULE here:

Let’s all support these incredible opportunities to enjoy and learn this summer, so we’ll encourage the artists and producers to return in the future!