Mohawk Trail

Map of the ancient transportation routes of the Niagara Peninsula. Image: [Richard D. Merritt].




Laura Secord, on her historic walk to warn British troops of an impending American attack, walked along the Mohawk Trail for part of her journey. The Laura Secord Legacy Trail now marks her approximate route.

The Mohawk Trail is an ancient trail that began as a First Nations footpath but evolved into one of the most significant routes in the Niagara Region. The trail extends 80 km, running roughly parallel to the previous Iroquois Trail, now King's Highway 8.

It was, for the most part, located on the crest of the Niagara Escarpment however there were several points at which it crosses the Iroquois Trail at the base. Both trails began in Queenston, following identical routes, before splitting in St. David's, with the Iroquois Trail remaining below the escarpment, along Lake Ontario, and the Mohawk Trail heading upwards. The Mohawk Trail follows the line of Mountain Rd then turns southwest, linking with what is now Beaverdams Rd west of the canal. From there it continues along the line of Decew Rd before returning up the escarpment and heading west to meet with the Iroquois Trail at the centre of Ancaster, Ontario.

Actually the Mohawk Trail and Iroquois Trail extended much farther than the Niagara Peninsula. In pre-European history the trails ran from New York City to Detroit, crossing over the Niagara River on the Queenston-Lewston Bridge. The trails were a major east-west route through the Niagara Peninsula and New York, and were used by First Nation peoples as trade and travel routes, for movement of supplies and military troops, and as paths for settlers. Access was especially important for immigrants, particularly American Loyalists, who sought refuge in Canada from New York State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

As the trail became more widely used it was widened (1785) and later paved to facilitate easier access for the rising number of automobiles and other vehicles. The Mohawk trails was very important in both the growth and development of the Niagara Region (and beyond).

Butler, N., Merritt, R., Power, M. (1996).The Capital Years: Niagara-on-the-Lake 1792-1796 (Google eBook).See