Photo by Linda HeronPhoto Credit

Natural Heritage of the Vermilion River, by Ruth Svensk

The First Nations people here called the River a name that means Whitefish River.  Depending on who pronounces it, the name sounds like “Atikamgzib” or “Dikmegzubi”.  The ‘zib’ or ‘zubi’ means “river”.

(The Europeans misunderstood, and thought that Atikmazib was the little river that runs through Lake Lavase into Penage.  That is why you see it marked as Whitefish River on the maps.)

The Vermilion River rises in a small lake called Tramp Lake, about 70 km north of Capreol.

“Probably much of the gold in the Vermilion has come from the winnowing of glacial till by post-glacial rivers and modern rivers.  I suspect that the Wanapitei and Vermilion River areas where placer gold is known may have been the site of some of the early Norse washings.”[1]

Boyle’s credentials are as a geologist, not a historian, but others have speculated that, when Greenland was a viable colony, in the 11th and 12th centuries, Norse were entering Hudson’s Bay and trading up the rivers into Northern Ontario.

The Odawa and Beaver peoples who lived near the Atikmagzib moved throughout the year, living in a succession of seasonal camps.  Their territory of use stretched from MacGregor Bay to the headwaters of the Vermilion, and I think from the Spanish to the Sturgeon Rivers.

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