Part 1
Creation and Settlement

 

“When Louis Jolliet and his successor, Sieur de la Salle, viewed the shore of Lake Erie from their heavily laden canoes in 1669, they found the water as rich in the variety of fish as was the lush forest canopy on the shore with woodcock, quail, wild turkey, and deer. When Sieur de Cadillac penetrated to the present site of Detroit in 1698, he had to part wild geese and swans with his canoes in order to land his party on shore.”

“As 18th century exploration and fur trade gave way to settlement and industrialization, environmental damage began to spread from harbours and bays into the main body of the lake. Events that set this into motion started with the formation of coal deposits in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio 300 million years ago and with the formation of of enormous deposits of iron ore along the southern shore of what is now Lake Superior 1 billion years ago… Lake Erie became the natural centre of the US steel industry. As the gross tonnage of iron ore passing through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie increased from a few thousand tonnes in 1855 to hundreds of millions of tonnes in 1973, so did the pollution of Lake Erie from industry and human population.”

Vallentyne, J.R. 1974. The Algal Bowl. Lakes and Man. Miscl. Spec. Publ. Dept of the Environment, Ottawa.

Chapter 1
The First Great Lakes Ecosystem evolved naturally from 10 millennia ago, along with a native society possessing sophisticated governance and a spiritual relationship to their environment.

Chapter 2
The Quest for Furs and Souls lasted three centuries of conflict over alliances, trade routes, furs and European goods. Depletion of furbearers, disease and warfare left the native people in dire straits.

Chapter 3
Settlement of the Great Lakes Region took place rapidly after the War of Independence. Dams and canals led to siltation, warming and abrupt changes in river flows.

Chapter 4
The Industrial Heartland of North America flourished from the combination of immense natural resources, immigration and investment capital, but some choices would create the environmental issues of the future.