Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fr. Hegarty and Ste. Marie I by Steve Catlin, Martyrs' Shrine Archivist

   For the serious archaeologist (and historian) examining the excavations of Ste. Marie I, the contributions of numerous persons need to be considered.  Chazelle SJ, Martin SJ, Hallen, Kidd, Jury, Hunter, Gray and Tummon, and most recently Triggs, (apologies to those whom I have not mentioned, both living and dead) have all contributed to varying degrees in our understanding of this seventeenth wilderness mission headquarters of the Society of Jesus among the Hurons. In this author’s opinion, it is the work of Fr. Denis A. Hegarty, a Jesuit who excavated in the mid- twentieth century, that gives us the most accurate understanding of this mission outpost.

 In 1948, Fr. Denis A. Hegarty SJ arrived at Martyrs’ Shrine.  His ministry at the Shrine was primarily pastoral, however, he was named Curator of Museums by the Director of the Shrine, Fr. T. Lally SJ and Jesuit in Charge of Excavations at St. Marie I.  His first responsibility at Ste. Marie was drawing maps for Wilfred Jury.  From 1948 to 1951, Fr. Hegarty worked closely with Wilfred Jury.  Fr. Hegarty continued excavations and in 1954, he discovered the grave of St. Jean de Brebeuf.  After this discovery, he continued excavating in the area up until 1962, alternating between Ste. Marie I and St. Ignace II. 
What makes Fr. Hegarty’s understanding of Ste. Marie I most plausible are three consideration. First is the fact that he was a Catholic and a Jesuit.  His understanding of Catholic and Jesuit traditions with regards to liturgical practises and daily life gives credence to the features and artefacts found at Ste. Marie I.  Second, his methodical approach to the evidence assists greatly in identifying which foundations belonged to the seventeenth mission village and those that belonged to another period. Finally, by working with Wilfred Jury during the 1948- 1951 seasons, Fr. Hegarty’s work identifies authentic findings from those that were added for a variety of reasons during the reconstruction of Ste. Marie I from 1964- 1968.  The information that follows for this article is gathered from Fr. Hegarty’s archaeological slides, his memoirs and various correspondences, his unpublished but bound book, “This Band of Brothers”, and personal conversations with the author in 1995, all of which are preserved at Martyrs’ Shrine archives.  The map created and labelled by this author summarizes Fr. Hegarty’s findings.

With regard to Fr. Hegarty’s understanding of Catholic liturgical life, we are first concerned with the location and function of the Church and chapels. In the seventeenth century, it was common practise for the altars to face east.  As well, it was the duty of every priest to celebrate a daily Mass. Con-celebration was not practised in the seventeenth century, so Ste. Marie would have to accommodate at times, upward to about twenty- two priests! Thus, the Church complex identified by buildings 3, 4, and 16 satisfy these requirements, all facing east and with four altars (also, in building 3, an empty grave feature was discovered in 1962 and identified by Fr. Hegarty as St. Gabriel Lalemant’s, before his exhumation and re-internment with St. Brebeuf at the rear of building 16).

With regard to identifying the authenticity of features at Ste. Marie I, Fr. Hegarty logically employed three criteria.  First, the style of each building should follow seventeenth century building practises.  This would include, en pilier, en columbage, and log house (see building 3).  Second, there should be evidence of fire damage to the foundations found, since Ste. Marie was destroyed by fire [this would leave out the reconstructed longhouses, which were of an earlier era according to Fr. Hegarty, and the five sided bastion reconstructed at the south end of the mission, which was probably a lookout for the XYZ Lumber Company of the 19th century (This was further verified in Gray and Tummons report)]. Finally, most of the foundations found at Ste. Marie follow a consistent measurement of being a multiple of eleven inches.  Thus the reconstructed “granary” is an unlikely structure associated with Ste. Marie I (of interest, the building was destroyed by fire, however, according to local stories told to Fr. Hegarty, the building was actually Mr. Playair’s hunting lodge and “accidentally” caught on fire).  

Finally, with reference to the reconstruction of Ste. Marie and authentic excavation, one can first examine the waterway system in general (i.e. the location of ditches for water supply and drainage) and the lock system in particular.  The largest artefacts found at Ste. Marie I were several hewed out logs located at the end of the central waterway system.  The “mill at Ste. Marie I” theory was published as part of a Master’s thesis by William Russell SJ, who worked during the summer months with Fr. Hegarty in the late 1950’s.  Other than the drainage ditches/waterway system, one can also examine the location of the palisade walls- one set of which does not appear on Fr. Hegarty’s map. It is located near the south eastern portion of the site, dividing the mission into an area referred to as “The non- Christian area” in tourist brochures of the past (test trenches were dug by Gray and Tummon to see if there were any palisades in this area but the finding were inconclusive because of site contamination).  Other findings relating to the ditches and palisades are those located in the most south eastern part of the site, an area where Fr. Hegarty found evidence of longhouses (see number 6 on the map).

The reader is encouraged to examine the map provided since this article is only a brief overview of Fr. Hegarty’s work.  His map includes the findings of both Kidd and Jury, as well as his own. The numbering system was created by the author to indicate the chronological order in which buildings were constructed at Ste. Marie I according to Fr. Hegarty’s deductions. The reader is directed to note the location of the fireplaces, palisades, ditches and waterway system, as well as the location of longhouses. Buildings such as the reconstructed five sided bastion, the granary, and the longhouses within the palisade walls are of different historical periods, according to Fr. Hegarty.  The descriptions of each building accompanying the map are of special interest.  Finally, the archaeological slides of Fr. Hegarty have been examined by some archaeologists and are available for viewing at the Martyrs’ Shrine archives, along with other selected reports and correspondence.
Of course Fr. Hegarty’s work is open to criticism, especially with the development of new archaeological methods and as new primary historical resources come to light, however, his discovery of St. Brebeuf’s grave can never be disputed nor his commitment to deductive reasoning, historical scholarship (especially regarding the liturgical practises of the Roman Catholic Latin rite Church and the information provided by the Relations), and the scientific method, particularly those of archaeology that was being utilized in mid= twentieth century Ontario.
By Steve Catlin BA (hons) MRE Bed MTS

This article originally appeared in the Fall issue 2010 of The Pot, the newsletter of the Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archaeology Society

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ancient Weather - climate archaeology

BBC Canada on the Rogers digital cable system Sundays at 7 pm shows  Ancient Weather, presented by Tony Robinson, that discusses how various societies survived severe climate change.

 A google search pulls this link from the History Channel

Friday, December 17, 2010

newsletter for December sent to members + looking ahead to 2011

Members received their copy of the newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 4, this evening in email.

As we look forward to 2011, I hope that all members of the chapter will consider participating actively on our blog and will send some informtion or complete articles for the newsletter.

I would appreciate the following information for the newsletter in 2011:
  • send links to any online articles you encounter on archaeology
  • send the title of any books you read on archaeology that would be of interest to other members
  • please send information about your archaeological pursuits in the coming year
  • please send any photos you would like to share with other chapter members
One feature we are considering is a members profile feature,  which might be a thumbnail sketch of our members, describing how long they have been interested in archaeology, and any other special interests they are pursuing.  For example, David Lamb is working on building a birch bark canoe, and Marg Raynor has for some time been doing bead and leatherwork, and Bill Gibson is slowly building a major web article with photographs from his two summers working construction on the Athabasca Tar Sands in the mid 1970s.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Conrad Heidenreich on Champlain in Huronia

At the OAS Huronia Chapter meeting in September 2010, Professor Conrad Heidenreich spoke to some twenty interested parties about Champlain’s visit to Huronia and the location of the villages he visited including Cahiague. 
it was a very interesting talk and shed a lot of light especially on Champlain and his navigational accuracy and how a geographer approaches understanding the historic descriptions and maps.
Heidenreich reviewed the available documents, maps and archaeological evidence in the 1960s.  Since the 1960s no new documents or maps have been found. There have been some advances in linguistic analysis of Huron names (John Steckley). There have been more site surveys since the 1960s.  Heidenreich pointed out that he is not familiar with this work, his academic work is not archaeology but historic geography.
He went on to explain in detail his review of the accuracy of Champlain’s navigation based on his books of 1603 and 1632.
On his maps and in his navigational text, Traitté de la marine, Champlain mentions only the use of the Spanish marine league (5.5 km), yet when we examine estimates of the same distance taken from his writings and compare them to the same distances taken from topographic maps, in most cases the league he appears to be using is much shorter.
Examples: 1603: The distance estimates given by Champlain in his first book Des Sauvages, have an average league of 3.6 km (2.3 miles)  (s= 1.3 km) (N=37).
Example: 1632: The estimates of distance given in Les Voyages, have an average length of 4.7 km (s=1.5 km) (N=105).
If one breaks down the 1632 sample of 105 estimates one finds:
His estimates on the high seas had an average of 5.5 km to the league (s-1.5 km) N=24). This shows he used Spanish marine league determined with instruments.
In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, his estimates had an average of 4.3 km (s=.58) (N=10) and along coastal areas and the St. Lawrence River, between Tadoussac and the Lachine Rapids, the average length is
4.5 km (s=1.04 km) (N=45). These two are virtually the same; statistically they don’t differ significantly.
The large standard deviations indicate a horrendous inconsistency in his estimates. What is more disconcerting is that the diminishing length of the league, from an average of 5.5 km on the high seas, to about 4.3-4.5 km along coastal stretches and the St. Lawrence and eventually 3.4 km inland, may indicate the use of different leagues without notifying his reader...Did Champlain use any other measures?
Measures Champlain may have used?
*Petite lieues 30 to a degree of latitude – 3.27 km – 2.03 mi.
Lieues commune 25 to a degree of latitude – 3.91 km – 2.45 mi.
*Lieues marine 20 to a degree of latitude – 4.91 km – 3.05 mi.
**Lieues géographique, ou marine de Espagne 17.5 to a degree of latitude – 5.55 km – 3.45 mi.
*measure he may have used, **measure he says he used.
I think the averages I have calculated may indicate what he is trying to use, the petite Lieue, Lieue commune, and lieue marine, when he is on land or in coastal waters, but he is poor at estimating distances. Rather than guess at what league he may be using I think it is safer to use his average league calculated for specific topographical circumstances, recognizing also that whatever he is estimating lies within a large range of variablity.
Heidenreich went on to point out that the sample available is too small to know what league Sagard and the Jesuits used.  It seems possible that the Jesuits used the lieue commune, which was the standard French measure at the time.
Heidenreich went on to review the days of travel and villages visited in Champlain’s account.  He spoke about what we can glean from Sagard’s account.  He also addressed the Jesuit reports of villages (they make no mention of Cahiague).
Heidenreich then reviewed the descriptions of Cahiague in Champlain and in Sagard, linguistic analysis of the name, and stated that he remains convinced that the Warminster site is Cahiague.
He concluded:
1.       I surmise that Champlain and Sagard landed along the stretch of shoreline between Georgian Sands Beach (XIV Con.) and Balm Beach (IX Con.); Champlain perhaps near the exit of Copeland Creek and Sagard farther south at Balm Beach. I would look for a village (Otoϋacha) and artifacts along the shoreline from the XIVth to the IXth Concessions, in particular close to the beach near Copeland Creek.
2.       I think we have Tequenonquiaye and Cahiague located properly.
3.       We have the general location where Carhagouha should be.
4.       We should be able to locate the successors to these villages. Ossosane by its shape; Quienonascaron because it is a triple village and Contarea from its location on the western outskirts of Orillia.
5.       We might be  able to decide on a probable route of travel by Champlain for a supposed landing spot to Tequenonquiagey and Carhagouha but without additional information I would hate to hazard even a guess where he wandered around to get to Cahiague.
This article first appeared in the Fall issue of The Pot, the newsletter of the Huronia Chapter of the OAS

Friday, December 10, 2010

chapter meeting schedule for 2011

The chapter holds an open meeting on the second Thursday of every month at the Huronia Museum, 549 Little Lake Park, Midland, Ontario.
2011 Chapter meeting dates
second Thursday of the month
at the Huronia Museum in Midland.
Start time: 7:00 PM
January 13
February 10
March 10
April 14
May 12
June 9
July 14
August 11
September 8
October 13
November 10
December 8 (AGM)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Annual General Meeting and Social Dec. 9th at 7 PM

At the Huronia Museum on  
Dec. 9th at 7 PM
Huronia Chapter of the OAS
will hold its  
Annual General Meeting and Social

The Social, a pot luck dinner, will start off the evening.

The AGM including elections of the executive positions will follow.

Please send nominations to John Raynor at jraynor@rogers.com

If you have any questions about how to respond to the pot luck dinner component of the evening, please call John Raynor at 705 526-4927 or email him at jraynor@rogers.com