Crawford Lake

Crawford Lake has a story to tell. Buried at its bottom lies evidence of an ancient Aboriginal community. Come visit a reconstruction of their longhouse and hear the tales of generations past.

Crawford Lake

If you like heritage and natural beauty, you're in for a treat here. 

Crawford Lake

Aboriginal Heritage

What was life in Ontario before the Europeans came? A reconstructed Iroquoian Village near Campbellville in Southern Ontario gives a hint of how it might have been for at least one group of people in the 15th century.

At that time, about 700 people lived in this community, which had a wooden fortification similar to the one you see now. This palisade, as well as the longhouse at the centre, was built based on information gleaned from archeological diggings of the area, both from the soil and from the bottom of this special lake.

During your visit, you can sit and listen to some storytelling and hear tales that might been told around the campfire centuries ago. As you walk around and read the panels you can also learn more about how people hunted, what they ate, and how they built their homes.

Crawford Lake

One thing I notice about this kind of architecture is how pleasing it is to the eye. Even without the so-called modern tools we have today, the people in this era built structures that were both practical and beautiful.

The Lake: A Natural Beauty and Wonder

I mentioned above that this lake is "special". By that I mean that it's a "meromictic lake" – a rare breed. A memomictic lake is one that has layers of water that don't usually mix. One layer stays on top of the other the way oil stays on top of water. Once in a while a strong wind comes along and mixes it up a bit. However, most of the time, the two layers are separate and whatever falls to the bottom stays there for a very long time. Because of this special make-up, a lot of historic agricultural material (pollen, for example) is still at the bottom, and scientists have used these deposits to learn about what people were growing hundreds of years ago. This information helped inform the panels you'll read in the reconstructed village at the site.

Crawford Lake

Aside from its practical purpose, though, the lake (like the village) is beautiful. A wooden boardwalk with interpretation panels takes you around the water. There are several spots where you can sit and rest and gaze at the water from benches.

There isn't much here in terms of food facilities (candy bars mostly) so take a lunch if you're going for the day.


You'll find 19 km of trails, suitable for hiking, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing.


Crawford Lake Conservation Area is located at Steeles Avenue and Guelph Line, 5 km. south of Highway 401 and 15 km. north of the Q.E.W.

For more information

For current information about admission fees, hours, and events visit Conservation Halton and look for the link to Crawford Lake.

Related stories

Are you interested in Aboriginal culture? Learn more here:

Aboriginal Art

Grand River Powwow - your chance to dance at a powwow!

Ontario Travel Secrets  > Ontario History > Crawford Lake