Cultural History

The Short Hills area has been inhabited by human beings for at least 12,000 years. Early cultures that lived in the area are referred to as Paleo-Indians, and they dominated the Short Hills landscape during the Archaic Period (8,000 to 2,500 years ago), as evidenced by artifacts found in the region. It is also known, through the discovery of artifacts, that the area was occupied during the following era, known as the Woodland Period. Approximately 400 years ago, the Neutral Indians (Iroquois) established large villages to the east and west of the Short Hills. For more information on Iroquois history visit

Land Acknowledgement

The Friends of Short Hills Park wishes to acknowledge and honour the lands of Short Hills Provincial Park as the traditional territory of Indigenous peoples. In both spirit and partnership, we recognize and thank the First Nations including the Anishinaabe, the Hatiwendaronk, the Haudenosaunee, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Métis Nation, and all who provided stewardship of these lands over millennia. 

Intended to guide the relationship between the First Nations and Europeans, the Two Row Wampum is an important symbol of everlasting equality, peace and friendship. It remains the foundation upon which Canada was built and Friends of Short Hills recognize that this mutually respectful relationship between nations is essential for reconciliation today.

The Friends of Short Hill Park stands with all Indigenous people, past and present, in promoting the wise stewardship of the lands on which we live.  

Power Glen, circa 1890

European Settlers followed, attracted to the area for its extensive forests, productive soil, and network of streams, which became the foundation of the milling industry. United Empire Loyalists were the first permanent settlers of the area, establishing two communities on the perimeter of what is now Short Hills Provincial Park; St. John’s West and Decew Town. These settlers cleared much of the land for orchards in 1787, and constructed many of the historic buildings that can still be seen in the area.

Area of Short Hills Park Circa 1791

Across from the Pelham Road entrance to the park sits the Brown Homestead. John Brown was a former private from Butler’s Rangers and his land holdings comprise much of the north section of the park. Remnants of his apple orchards can still be found across the road from the house. To learn more about the Homestead visit: