Saturday, April 17, 2010

Silver Creek cluster

Influenced be my re read of Champlain as noted in a previous post I have moved northwest of the Narrows (Orillia) in search of the next interesting cluster of sites. This cluster of sites is located north of the Division Rd, South of the Warminster Rd and best accessed either side of the Burnside Line to the west and the Carlyon Line to the east in what is now Severn township. There are 10 archaeological sites that I am aware of within this area scattered over lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 in concession 4, 5 and 6. According to A F Hunter there is a trail that runs by or through these sites leading from further north down to the Orillia area and intersecting with a trail to the Narrows (Coldwater Rd). This trail follows a ridge that may have made it possible to see the "small lake" (Lake Couchiching) referred to by Champlain as they travelled southeast toward the Narrows. Another field trip to this area might be warranted to see what vistas of Lake Couchiching may or may not exist as one travels along or close to this route.

Site 1 - On the east 1/2 of lot 1 Con 4 we find reports of a large bone pit in sandy soil on the SE face of a hill about 1/2 mile west of Silver Creek. This is reported by A F Hunter as his site # 7 North Orillia and again by Hammond as recorded on pg 84 of the AAROs for 1904 as being on the farm of Mr. John Ego.
Site 2 - On the east 1/2 of lot 2 Con 4 we find reports by A F Hunter (AARO 1903 pg 112) of a bone pit dug in sandy soil that was reported to have contained hundreds of human bones, 13 kettles and some wampum. There were also some single grave near the pit that were reported to have contained a clay pipe, a stone pipe and an iron tool. There was also a report of 3 skulls in one of the graves one of which was thought to be European. This whoever was never confirmed.
Site 3 - On lot 2 Con 5 we have reports ( AARO of 1904 pg 12) of stone and clay pipes being turned over to the Provincial Museum from Mr Wilbert Greer. Hammond reports a site on the SE 1/4 of lot 2 Con 5 on the farm of George Greer.
Site 4 - On lot 3 Con 5 we find a site reported by Hammond (AARO 1904 pg 83) on the Quinn farm. This is reported to be a large village site and burial ground located on both sides of Silver Creek. Gary Warrick has dated this site a being pre contact.
Site 5 - On the south 1/2 of lot 1 Con 5 we have 2 confusing or conflicting reports. Confusing enough for me that perhaps they are not reporting on the same site or finds. Both reports located the finds on the farm of George Greer but A F Hunter reports them on the SW 1/4 while Hammond reports his on the SE 1/4 of the same lot. A 1/4 lot is about 50 acres - plenty of room for error and more than one site. To add to this confusion Hammond reports this site to be quite large while Warrick says it is 1.25 acres. A F Hunter would date this site by iron artifacts found to being of the French Period while Warrick say protohistoric. Hunter says that the site is on the north side of Silver Creek while Hammond's map might be read to show it west of Silver Creek. The A F Hunter's report can be found in the AARO of 1903 pg 113 as his site # 9 while the Hammond report and sketch appear in the AARO of 1904 pg 84 and makes reference to the Hunter site # 9. Further examination of this data is required to determine if we are talking about the same location or if there are or were 2 separate sites. I am not sure which one Gary Warrick (1990) was reporting on.
Site 6 - On the SW 1/4 of lot 2 Con 5 we have a report from A F Hunter of finds on the farm of Mr Fyfe on a hillside on the NW side of Silver Creek. This site is reported to be small and dates to the late prehistoric period according to Warrick (1990). Hunters report appears in the AARO of 1903 pg 113 as his site # 8 while Hammond reports on it in the AARO of 1904 pg 84. Hammond reports an open but unused ossuary on this site while Hunter say that Mr Fyfe found many remains including stone axes, clay pipes and beads.
Site 7 - On lot 1 Con 6 there is a report in the AARO of 1904 pgs 14 of artifacts being turned over to the Provincial Museum by a Mr J Harvey and on pg 35 of the same report we find another artifact from the same lot turned over to the museum by Aubrey McPhee. Nieter Hammond nor Hunter report anything about a site in this location.
Site 8 - On the west 1/2 of lot 3 Con 6 A F Hunter reports a site on the farm of William Brennan (AARO 1903 pg 113) as his # 10. This report includes considerable amounts of pottery fragments and an ossuary found at the front door of the house. Hammond reports (AARO 1904 pg 83) that the William Brennan farm is on the west 1/2 of lot 2 and say that Hunter was in error as to his location of this farm. Hammond says that this site on the William Brennan farm is Hunter's # 11(?) Hunter's site # 11 is on the farm of Mr Holmes on the west 1/2 of lot 5 con 8. Could we have 2 different sites - did William Brennan's farm span more than one lot?
Site 9 - On the west 1/2 of lot 3 Con 6 (this is the same lot & con that Hunter reported on in his site # 10) Hammond reports his site # 18 to be on the property of Mr E Brennan. There he reports (AARO 1904 pg 83) a few graves with bodies on their backs not doubled up.
Site 10 - On the west 1/2 of lot 4 Con Mr Wes Brennan found and turned over to the Provincial Museum a small clay pipe and some pottery fragments (AARO 1905 pg 9)

In conclusion we have one site (#5 above) that may be an historic village surrounded by a number of ossuaries and burials (that would indicated more than a transient occupation) and a number of other find spots that one might anticipate on or near a well travelled trail. This cluster needs further investigation as to dating before it can be determined of further interest. The only site that might maintain our attention has both confusing and conflicting data that needs to be better understood. This along with other site overlaps and perhaps oversights by both A F Hunter and Hammond make for a less than clear understanding of the occupation that took place here.

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