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History of the Region

Man and woman talking at Cannington Dog Sled FestivalDurham Region was originally the home of a number of First Nations including, but not limited to Iroquois and Ojibway.

Today Durham is home to  The Mississauga Nation and a large Métis community. The Mississauga Nation is a branch of the Ojibway of the Three Fires Confederacy who moved southward the Sault Ste. Marie area around 1695 to take advantage of the fur trade. 

Lake ScugogThe Mississauga people settled into community groupings at the mouth of the Credit River, on the shores of Rice Lake, Mud Lake and Lake Scugog. 

Find out more about the Mississauga Nation and the Metis people on their websites.

Men Re-enacting Civil WarThe first immigrants to this area were French followed by English explorers and settlers during the 1600s and 1700s. These early immigrants created a demand for furs to export to France and England and other parts of Europe. 

The United Empire Loyalists are also part of the local heritage. Early settlement involved clearing the land and establishing farms and logging operations. In the 1800s the War of Independence in the United States created a group of people called The United Empire Loyalists who became refugees from the conflict in the United States. These people were loyal to Britain and left the United States to settle in Canada which was under British rule. They became the early founders of local businesses that later became the major manufacturing companies in Durham such as the McLaughlin Carriage Company which later became General Motors of Canada.

In the 1800s these early immigrants established mills, lumber operations, created local harbours and began manufacturing farm implements, construction goods, carriages and sleighs and other goods for shipment to other parts of Canada, the United States and abroad. In the 1900s many immigrants came from Britain and Europe and settled in this area to take up jobs in the factories, foundries and businesses that became the commercial and business base of Durham Region. Immigrants of Polish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Croatian, German, Italian and Russian heritage made Oshawa their home during this period.

In the late 1900s immigration patterns began to change with more and more immigrants coming from the Middle East, East Asia, Asia and South America as well as the Caribbean and Central America.

Now, Durham Region, like Toronto, is attracting new immigrants from all over the world. A growing demand for skilled and professional workers, entrepreneurs and business class immigrants has created the need for information sites such as this one to attract newcomers who can help Durham Region reach its full potential. We need you to help us grow.



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