Two people canoe down the foggy Grand River at sunrise Phot courtesy of Six Nations Tourism

Six Nations of the Grand River

Located south of Brantford and running alongside the Grand River, this southwestern territory in Ontario is brimming with history that spans thousands of years. The Six Nations of the Grand River is the only region in the continent where all Haudenosaunee nations live together. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy (which translates to “they build houses”) is made up of the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora nations. Together they contribute to the area’s rich arts, natural elements, history, and ongoing legacy.

Day One

Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks
Beyond the Stained Glass Windows

When you first arrive at Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, you’ll see a quaint building with eight beautiful stained-glass windows. But beyond the infrastructure and picturesque nature surrounding the area lies a history that spans 300 years. Built in 1785, it’s the oldest surviving church in Ontario. The Chapel offers workshops and guided walking tours for visitors to learn more about the history of the Six Nations and its relationship with settler Canada. You can learn more through talks led by community members on this complex history as well as perspectives on reconciliation from Six Nations community members.

kids looking at indigenous cultural artifacts Woodland Cultural Centre. Photo credit: Woodland Cultural Centre
Mohawk Institute Residential School and the Woodland Cultural Centre
Learning about Reconciliation

Delve deeper into important history through the Mohawk Institute Residential School and the Woodland Cultural Centre. The Centre was established in 1972 after the closure of the residential school. It is now one of the most extensive facilities in Canada managed by First Nations, with over 50,000 artifacts in its collection and a library of Indigenous-only books, research, and more. Want to learn more? Book a Truth and Reconciliation presentation to further understand the latest progress report and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 10 Principles and 94 Calls to Action. The Centre also offers virtual tours of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School, which was in session for 140 years.

Next, visit the locally-owned Burger Barn for lunch. The restaurant is known for having the ultimate comfort food with huge portions. The restaurant – which looks like a barn from the outside —boasts fresh 8oz ground patties and a variety of styled burgers that have toppings like macaroni and cheese and pulled pork.

plants in a greenhouse Kayanase Greenhouse. Photo credit:The Heart of Ontario
Kayanase Greenhouse
A Horticultural Tour

Now 15 years old, Kayanase Greenhouse is dedicated to restoring the remaining nature after the construction of the Red Hill Valley Parkway. It’s the perfect spot to learn more about ecological restoration and traditional harvesting and planting methods. The greenhouse offers native plants and seeds to purchase, such as wild bergamots and tree saplings. This area is open seasonally, so be mindful of this when you visit.

family at camping site with tent and river in the background Chiefswood Park. Photo credit: Mark Burnham/ Six Nations Tourism
Chiefswood Park
A Day of Play

Right next door to Kayanase is Chiefswood Park, known for its forest trails, historical exhibits and outdoor activities. Secure a full- or half-day experience to learn about Haudenosaunee culture and art. Enjoy sports? Pick up the history of the iconic sport lacrosse, and play it too. Want to grasp how food is harvested traditionally? AR/VR experiences are available to learn about the Three Sisters. In the evening, end the day paddling or lounging at the Grand River. Did you know you can also spend the night at Chiefswood Park? Their accommodations range from different-sized cabins to tent camping or glamping in a Riverside Hut.

Day Two

woman guiding kids in forest Six Nations Trail. Photo credit: Mark Burnham / Six Nations Tourism
Six Nations Trail
Taking in the Nature on the Trail

Explore the largest Carolinian forest in Southern Ontario while walking the Six Nations Trail. The trail is suitable for almost everyone and takes about 15 minutes to complete. A guided tour will help you learn more about the Indigenous plants in the area.

Old pink house surrounded by greenery Chiefswood National Historic Site. Photo credit: The Heart of Ontario
Chiefswood National Historic Site; Yawekon
An Artists Paradise and Top Chef Dishes

Tour Chiefswood National Historic site, built in the mid-1800s for Chief George Johnson. The site is the birthplace of Indigenous poet, performer, and author E. Pauline Johnson, also known as Tekahionwake. Her poetry is recognized for its strong portrayal of Indigenous women and children. Some of her most notable poems include “A Cry from an Indian Wife,” about the Riel Rebellion, and “Ojitsoh,” about a Mohawk wife who is kidnapped by a Huron captor.

For lunch, try some Haudenosaunee cuisine at Yawékon by Tawnya Brant. Brant is a local chef and former competitor of Top Chef Canada. Yawékon means “it tastes good” in Mohawk, which is quite fitting for this special food spot. Brant likes to use ingredients she grew at home to make dishes like Three Sister soup, and blueberry and pan-seared Bay of Quinte Mohawk trout cakes.

Miniature Iroqraft Iroqrafts. Photo credit: The Heart of Ontario
Six Nations Artisans
Handmade Jewelry, Crafts & More

Support Six Nations artisans by shopping locally. Sapling and Flint is named after the twin boys born to Skywoman’s daughter, according to the Ohswekén:’a Creation Story – a fitting name for a shop run by twin sisters! Their handmade jewelry is made of gold, wampum, and sterling silver. Proceeds contribute to cultural projects in Six Nations. Ribbon skirts, pants and plush reversible blankets can be found at GOTribalwear. Or visit I&S Crafts and Supplies for hand-made jewelry and Delica beading supplies.

Iroqrafts is the oldest and largest arts and crafts store in Six Nations, with plenty of goodies to choose from. You’ll find local creations including beadwork, soapstone sculptures, moccasins, and turtle shells. Authentic furs, fur hats, boots, hide, and leather goods are available to purchase as well.

Wings & Bingo
Dinner and a Game

End the day with a hearty dinner at Village Pizza and Wings. The restaurant is known for its — you guessed it — stone oven pizza and jumbo wings. The generous portions will not leave you hungry.

Next, test your luck and contribute to the community with Six Nations Bingo. Join matinee and evening sessions where you can win jackpot prizes in the thousands. Six Nations Bingo donates 40 per cent of its annual profits to educational community programs across the region.

Your trip at a glance

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please CONTACT US.

All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.