I had a brief meeting yesterday with Ian Bender, the chief planner for Simcoe County. In that exchange I expressed my interest in the identification and protection of the native village sites in Simcoe County and sought clarification as to how the process works. I expressed my concern that the current process and legislation do not afford sufficient protection for these sites and that another situation such as the ossuary found in Little Lake Park Midland was bound to occur again if more is not done soon to protect these sites.
He acknowledged that while this work is important, it is not a high enough priority to receive sufficient funds to do the basic inventory that would be required to keep all the responsible parties properly informed of site locations. He indicated that he was limited to working with a knowledge base of "known" sites. I asked of the "known" sites and was surprised and a little dismayed to learn that he works from a "known" list of about 70 sites identified by the province. So not only is the Planning Act legislation insufficient to protect these sites but the knowledge base used to enact this limited legislation appears negligently inadequate considering that this same county published The History of Simcoe County by A F Hunter 100 years ago. This publication was then augmented by additional reports to the Ministry of Education, published by the Queen's Printer. These reports contained an inventory of about 400 sites found in a 12 year study in the seven townships of north Simcoe and without a doubt made part of the County record and held in the Simcoe County archives.
Further to Mr Hunter's work a large report (the book known as "Old Huronia") was completed by Rev. A E Jones and submitted to the Archives of Ontario as the 5th Report. This work was published in 1908 and also listed numerous sites in Simcoe County. Apparently markers were placed on some of these sites but I have yet to learn of their fate.
In the past 100 years additional work has been done by K. Kidd, F. Ridley, W. Jury and others in an effort to locate and identify the sites of Huronia's pre pioneer history.
How can all this work result in only 70 "known" sites in all of Simcoe County?
I have, through a review of these texts and others, put together the beginnings of an inventory of "known" sites and am in the process of plotting these sites on the maps of the relevant townships. It has been my intention to use these maps and related documentation to encourage the local municipalities to do "archeological master plans" that they would then use to plan growth and development in such a way as to not destroy our history or violate sacred ground. Not all of these sites need be saved but we should not allow ourselves to be deprived of the knowledge they may be able to yield to us by ignoring them or claiming that we were unaware of their existence until it is too late.
It is to this end and with this concern that I wish to make available to the readers and participants of this blog the public record as I know it. I hope to have it in a viable format soon. Most of the information I have gathered is from public record sources online and it is my hope to continue to add to this record as time, resources and information becomes available. I would ask that anyone wishing to receive this information register with this blog and include their email address in their profile. Please also indicate what your interest or intended use of this record may be and remember that the penalties under the Ontario Heritage Act for the unlicensed excavation on "known" sites is up $250,000. If anyone finds through their own research documented sites to add to this list please advise and once confirmed they will be included. The operative mantra here is "look but do not touch" (unless licensed). These lands and the artifacts found within them are to be held in the public trust and not in private collections or sold to the highest bidder.
This would be a worthwhile project for the Shrine archives to have a copy. Government agencies have failed to protect these sites with permanent markers. Hopefully a committee of all interested parties (particularly First Peoples) can help protect these sites in the future.
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