Monday, December 24, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brule marker in Awenda Park

Controversial explorer once reviled as heathen wins memorial marker.

More than 350 years after his body was dumped in an unmarked grave outside a Huron Indian village near Georgian Bay, a monument to controversial explorer Etienne Brule marks the site of his death.
The historic sites plaque unveiled on Saturday in a little ceremony in Awenda Provincial Park, near Penetang, is far more positive recognition than Brule was accorded in his own time.
Missionaries denounced him as a fornicator and a heathen and refused to bury him with other Christians.
The explorer, who is now more famous than most of his detractors, was the first Frenchman to reach at least three of the Great Lakes, and possibly all five. He was sent to the Huron country in 1610, when he was 18, and paid handsomely by a fur-trading company to learn the language of the Indians so
he could serve as a go-between for traders.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Canadian Archaeological Association looking for photos

The CAA is looking for new photos to update the images on our website. Send pictures from your fieldwork, research, and archaeological travels in Canada to Photos should be high-resolution and include a caption and the name of the photographer. We'll post them on this page, and those with the most likes will form the new banner for our webpage.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Yet another glass bead.

With the careful washing of more artifacts from the Allen tract by chapter members at our AGM and the meticulous sorting by Jamie Hunter (curator of the Huronia Museum) another glass bead was found in amongst the collection of animal bones that had been left out to dry. This is a white tubular bead about 1/2 inch long and will be returned to Laurentian U. where it will be added to the relatively substantial collection of beads recovered during our Public Archaeology Day that was held this past August  in Penetang.

foreground: Huronia Museum Curator Jamie Hunter

photos by Bill Gibson

The Ontario Archaeological Society is a registered charitable organization that promotes the ethical practice of archaeology. For regulatory information consult the Ontario Heritage Act.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

AGM December 13

6 pm start for AGM - UPCOMING OAS Huronia Chapter Annual General Meeting December 13th 2012
On Thursday, December 13th, 2012, the Huronia Chapter’s Annual General Meeting will be held at the Huronia Museum. Beginning at 6:00 PM, we will be washing artifacts.  Pizza and pop will be provided. The election of the executive positions will follow.  Send nominations for executive positions to John Raynor see email below.
And a good time to renew your membership.

Archaeology PhD Candidate wins Ontario Trillium Scholarship

Seven named Ontario Trillium Scholarship winners

By Wesley Moir
November 28, 2012

Western students Beth Compton, Wilson Higashino, Sviataslau Kohut, Ed Krynak, Qian Liu, Felipe Rodrigues and Omneya El Sharnouby have been named recipients of the 2012 Ontario Trillium Scholarships (OTS). The scholarships aim to raise the profile and prestige of Ontario universities internationally, and increase economic performance by recruiting highly educated individuals to the province.
Trillium scholars are nominated by their graduate program due to their scholarly achievements and strong research potential, and receive $40,000 annually for up to four years of study.
Western’s recipients hail from five different continents and represent nations such as Brazil, China, Egypt, Belarus and the United States.
BethPhoto by Wesley Moir
Beth Compton
PhD candidate, Archaeology

Beth Compton will open the doors of the past to everyone.
Compton’s research explores the social implications of multivocal archaeological management in the Digital Age. Her focus is on developing culturally considerate digital tools relevant to the interests of First Nations communities. This work will help develop more socially responsible archaeological policies that emphasise accessibility of archaeological collections.
“The Sustainable Archaeology project, affiliated with Western, McMaster and the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, is a ground-breaking collaborative initiative that will host state-of-the-art research facilities,” she said. “Western’s active involvement in the project is the primary reason why I chose to attend this university as it provides a truly ideal opportunity to pursue my area of research.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Note on Brian Ross' Talk on the Archaeology of Beausoleil Island

On Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, Brian Ross, formerly with Parks Canada, presented a slide show and talk on the Beausoleil Island National Park excavations conducted at Camp Kitchikewanna over the past 20 years. Here are a few points he raised in his talk and they are offered here to give a flavour of the very interesting 90 minute presentation.

Beausoleil Island is an 8-kilometer long island in the Lake Huron's Georgian Bay, near Port Severn, Ontario.   It is the largest island in the Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Link to wikipedia article on Beausoleil Island.

The YMCA camp on Beausoleil Island was established in 1919; the National Park in 1929. Beausoleil is an interesting and diverse location on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield and the boreal forest and the northern edge of the hardwood forest, with many species of plants and animals.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Tay Township - notice of public meeting

We have been informed by Tay township planning department of a pubic meeting to be held at the township office (450 Park St. Victoria Harbour, On)s at 7 PM Wednesday November 14th  regarding a proposal for a subdivision and zoning by-law amendment involving lots 12 & 13 Con 6& 7 Tay.
Should you be aware of any archaeological or historical sites that may be endanger by further developments on these lots please place a comment on the blog, attend the meeting or advise the Tay township planning department directly. (705 534 7248 -ext 225.
My database indicates some sites in the vicinity but it is difficult to determine if they will be disturbed by this development:

  • A F Hunter indicates a site on lot 12 con 6 and references it as an "Indian clearing" at the merging of 2 trails.
  • A F Hunter indicates a site on lot 13 con 6 and references it as being at the mouth of Hog River, east bank known as the Vents site.
  •  A E Jones shows site south of William St (Hwy 12) - east of Hogg R on his map of Tay township.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Archaeology of Beausoleil Island presentation at the November 8th OAS Huronia Chapter Meeting

L. Brian Ross and right Jamie Hunter

Brian Ross formerly  with Parks Canada will present a slide show and talk on the Beausoleil Island National Park excavations at Camp Kitchikewanna over the past 20 years.

Meeting Details: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7:00 PM at Huronia Museum - presentation open to the public, chapter business meeting which follows the presentation is open only to chapter members. Huronia Museum 549 Little Lake Park Rd. Midland, Ont.  705.526.2844

Sunday, October 14, 2012

some photos from our last chapter meeting

Robert Browne shows Dr. Holly Martelle one of the washed pieces of pottery

It was an all pottery kind of a meeting on October 11th 2012.  Two components:

  1. washing artifacts from our Public Archaeology Day (with pizza for wages for the washers)
  2. a presentation on Huron Ceramics from the Ball Site by Dr. Holly Martelle
Dr. Martelle stressed a number of key points:
  • The Ball Site has been excavated over 25 years and offers an unusally large sample for study
  • earlier study of pottery relied on small samples
  • earlier study of pottery tended to look at pottery fragments, rarely at whole pots or reconstructed whole pots
  • more recent study and analysis suggests a range of sophisticated pot types, a few skilled potters not every Huron woman making her own pots, 
  • discussion of Huron pottery with contemporary expert potters suggests that Huron pottery was of the highest quality, perhaps the highest quality in North America.
  • some pots have walls as thin as 3mm
  • difficult to recover pottery specific tools, even today most potters use readily available tools used for other functions or the tools are of organic materials that are unlikely to have survived 400 years in the ground.
  • as is so true of almost any archaeological area of study, more research is needed.

Robert Browne and his wife washing artifacts

1 of 4 screen fulls of artifacts that were recovered during the two days of work at our Public Archaeology Day in August of 2012

Peter Davis and Jamie Hunter work on their manicures

Ron and Peter scrubbing

Ron exams the washed crop of arifacts

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sustainability Summit

October 5, 2012

Lakehead Orillia hosts Sustainability Summit

Lakehead University Orillia will host the first annual Severn Sound Sustainability Summit on Thursday, October 18 from 6 to 9 pm at the University Avenue campus.

The Summit will provide an update on some of the initiatives taking place in the Severn Sound watershed; a keynote speech by Tom Rand, author of Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit and owner of North America’s greenest hotel; and a public forum to discuss tree-cutting by-laws. The event is open to the public and there is no cost to attend.
Lakehead University Orillia is a member organization of Sustainable Severn Sound, along with the nine municipalities in the Severn Sound watershed, the County of Simcoe, and other community organizations.
The purpose of Sustainable Severn Sound is to help communities in the watershed implement the goals and actions of the Severn Sound Sustainability Plan. The implementation of the Plan will help to protect and enhance the natural environment, strengthen the local economy, and improve the quality of life for all residents in the area.
To RSVP your attendance, please email: For further information, visit
Event Details:
Date: Thursday, October 18
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Location: Lakehead University Orillia, University Avenue Campus

Friday, October 05, 2012

Dr. Holly Martelle - Huron Ceramics

October 11, 2012, Thursday 7 PM Dr. Holly Martelle - Huron Ceramics -  Pots, potters and pottery making at the Ball site, a 17th century Wendat village in Huronia.

Dr. Martelle's doctoral thesis was on "Huron Potters and Archaeological Constructs". She is now a principle partner at Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc based out of London Ontario.

 Members are invited to meet at the museum at 5 PM to assist in washing the pottery found during our public archaeology day on the Allen tract. Pizza will be provided and we will see how much we can get done prior to Holly's presentation.

 Meeting Details: at Huronia Museum at 7 pm, presentation open to the public, chapter business meeting which follows the presentation is open only to chapter members.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A. F. Hunter on the location of St. Ignace (1911)

from Historic Sites of Tay by Andrew F. Hunter, M.A., reprinted from the Author’s “Notes on sites of Huron Villages in Tay” with Additions, Barrie Ontario, 1911. Bulletin of the Simcoe County Pioneer and Historical Society, November 1911, pp. 13-16

St. Identified with the Newton Village Site

The position of St. Ignace has been an open question for many years. As at least half a dozen places had been suggested, the writer, in 1899, visited all the Huron village sites within reasonable distance of Ste. Marie on the Wye, and after carefully considering the question in all its bearings, arrived at a conclusion substantially as follows.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chapter Meeting Sept. 13 - Dr. Warrick talks about Carhagouha, site of the first Catholic Mass in Ontario in 1615

Sept. 13th - Dr Gary Warrick – A Discussion of Carhagouha, site of the first Catholic Mass in Ontario in 1615.

Dr. Gary Warrick - Laurier University, Associate Professor, Contemporary Studies and Indigenous Studies; Fellow, Tshepo Institute for the Study of Contemporary Africa.

A Population History of the Huron-Petun, A.D. 500-1650 by Gary Warrick – 2008 - reconstructs the population history of the Wendat-Tionontaté (Huron-Petun) people using archaeological, paleodemographic, historical, and epidemiological research. This book argues that the Wendat-Tionontaté occupied southern Ontario for thousands of years and that maize agriculture was gradually adopted by groups who were not experiencing population pressure, but who were simply interested in supplementing their hunting, gathering, and fishing diet with a reliable food that could also be stored to avert winter famine deaths. The book demonstrates that gradual population growth followed the adoption of maize agriculture, but that rapid population growth did not occur until the fourteenth century, encouraged by the colonization of new lands. The book also documents and explains why epidemic diseases of European origin did not occur among the Wendat-Tionontaté and other Native peoples of eastern North America until the 1630s.

Meeting Details:
Meeting held at Huronia Museum at 7 pm, presentation open to the public, chapter business meeting which follows the presentation is open only to chapter members.
Huronia Museum  +  Native Village -- 549 Little Lake Park Rd. Midland, Ont.  705.526.2844

Monday, August 27, 2012

Looting and Prosecution.

The above link will take you to an article by Bill Fox in the July/Aug 1985 Arch Notes on the first case in Ontario regarding prosecution of looters. See pages 31-39.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Where do people get their history?

I came across the following on a webpage for a church in Brampton - History of Catholic Churches in Brampton

First Mass in the Brampton Area, 1615

The first Mass in the Brampton Area was said by Father Joseph Le Caron at the Attiwandaron Indian Village of Carhagouha circa 1615. The village was near the Credit River which was a main fur trading route and is believed to have been ner the current site of Brampton. The Attiwandaron tribe and all its villages were wiped out by the Iroquios about 1650 when the Iroquios started getting fire arms from the Dutch and English and no longer needed flint for spear and arrow heads which they had obtained from the Attiwandaron chert beds as Point Abino.

Does this mean that we should be searching for Carhagouha in Brampton?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

PA day 2012 - Have we got beady eyes?

                       Public Archaeology Day – OAS Huronia Chapter:
                                                        11 and 12 August 2012.

  Have we got beady eyes?

The Huronia Chapter (OAS) held its Public Archaeology Day(s) on Saturday and
Sunday, 11 and 12 August. The chosen site sits in the middle of the Tay Peninsula jutting out into Georgian Bay between Midland and Penetanguishene, in the midst of the lovely, dark and deep Simcoe County Forest. Designated formally BeGx-76. Wow! This is cool!. The site awaits its proper name to be chosen by the Huron/Wendat Nation of Quebec.
The deal was come rain or shine, and ... well, yes. That does describe it pretty well.
The weather was forecast to be rainy, on and off, and things got under way Saturday morning quite pleasantly, with as many as 25 people coming out loyally, clutching hot Timmy’s in their mitts, carrying backpacks and foul-weather gear. As an old motto has it: there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. We kept that in mind.
John and Marg Raynor had the site-tested RV (Noah’s Arch?) positioned at the entrance
to the dig location. On Friday the hard-core faithful with assistance of county forest staff set plastic markers to delineate the path in, as well as tarpaulins to cover the area of excavation. Dr. Alicia Hawkins determined that our task was to be limited to the disturbed part of one large midden clinging to the edge of the ravine. As so many – if not all – Wendat sites seem to appear, this site followed the characteristic pattern: surrounded on at least three sides by a declivity, near a reliable source of water, and on sandy – what isn’t in Simcoe County, other than swamps? – upland soil. Sadly, this location had been looted previously, probably over a number of years. The midden we were to deal with had an extensive edge cut away and the spoiled earth piled haphazardly. We set about taking pails of dirt by trowelling from these piled portions and screening the soil carefully; guided by the “old hands” – being careful to note that old hands in archaeology can be quite young and attractive – the duffers like myself were coached in the fine art of telling charred wood from charred corn, charred beans from seed pods, fish bones from mammal bones, and told to keep a wary eye open for pottery sherds, or beads, or any specimens of metal. When we began, we were told that the site was newly-discovered (credit goes to Gary Dubeau) and newly-Bordenized by Alicia and that at this point it was not known if it was a contact-site or not. So ... we were on the leading edge.
The first half of Saturday – for me at least – entailed learning to recognize what I was
handling, all covered in fine black dirt. The largest concentration of recovered items would be by far the charred wood, charred corn kernels, and such unromantic stuff as fish bones; but occasional pottery shards cropped up, enough to keep the fire in the belly, some quite nicely decorated with notches and lines. And then one shell bead was discovered. The finds were passed first to Alicia for her okay, but then our bead-lady, Tonya Kitay, examined them, singing her praises of each and every recovery. This was Tonya’s first experience of a dig and she was enjoying each second.
About noon, the heavens opened. Jamie Hunter had opined to Alicia that it might be a
good idea to water-screen the sample soil and nature appeared to agree. Thunder, lightning, all the good stuff, but it might not last long and a lunch break was waiting to be taken. It served as
a good chance to clean our filthy hands. And to sample Marg Raynor’s excellent soup.

         Tonya Kitay (our Bead Lady) is in the black top, Kristin Thor beside her, back to camera. Sorry, Kristin.

As the rain tapered off, the crew returned to their  posts. So far, we had not determined
that it might be a contact-site, and we were back there to dig our heels in and make something happen – well, we had to, the ground was now slippery as hell. But by the end of day, all the hard campaigners had not found anything that proved European influence, beyond what could have been traded inland from the far-off Atlantic coasts. Although the suspicion was there: we had found a rolled copper bead and a copper cone, perhaps a decoration from clothing. Sunday was another day.
And Sunday was a better day. Only spits of rain. The faces had changed somewhat,
several people being otherwise committed, but new recruits had signed on and filled the gaps nicely, and our work resumed. Jamie Hunter arrived and set to work with a will. He had a happy knack of filling buckets with earth, and setting a lovely sherd of pottery right on top, dead center, to keep our spirits up. And the discoveries began. Jamie found a piece of a knife blade – iron – bingo! Certainly a contact site! I found a small, right-angle folded, piece of copper that I was sure was from Canadian Tire and not the seventeenth century. But Alicia slapped me around and corrected the error of my ways. I was working with Gary Dubeau and Paul Johnston on a standing screen (⅛-inch screen for those technically minded). Paul, on his first dig, had the uncanny knack of picking out beads. Yes, beads! He found two; we joked that he had “beady eyes.”

(Left) Paul Johnston and Caitlin, our supervisor, screening.                    (Right) Kristin Thor hard at work; “finds” went in the paper bags.

And Gary Dubeau found a bead – his first ever bead, and he has been doing this work for years! The gods were smiling on us at last. Kristin and her husband and sister found a beautiful red bead with white “bloom” inserts. No doubt now that it was a site dating after European trade was well established. Being located in the Carhagouha area, this is a very interesting site indeed.
Alicia, in an email sent to Jamie Hunter after the weekend, points out: “Blue tube – Ia19; White football – IIa15; Blue and white tube – closest is Ib18; Red round with white and blue – IIbb1. According to both Kenyon and Kenyon and to Fitzgerald, Knight and Bain this should put it into GBPII. What do you think?”  Archaeological-speak, but big brains need their outlets too.
What I think, Alicia, is that I had the time of my life and I am hooked – real bad. I think
that the Huronia Chapter, OAS, will be getting my faithful, volunteer service whenever I can manage it in the future. And if you, too, have beady eyes, then you are welcome to join us.

                       - Peter Davis, 15 August 2012

PS - based on what was found in the screenings of the area that was worked Alicia has a preliminary rough estimate of the occupation of this being 1600 - 1620 and hence I think, a suitable candidate for a Champlain era site.

some photos from the public archaeology day

HQ & registration centre at staging area

dirty girl Catlin with Alicia in background

Men at work

Lunch time

Charred corn anyone

There's gotta be something in here?

Stay close to the dig site - if you get lost your on your own.

Tonya trying not to slip into the creek.

Vanessa & Catlin - "we should have enough beads for a necklace  if we keep this  up"

Men at work 2

Catlin "I found something"

There's got to be something good in here somewhere?

Bingo! found it.

Some of the  Saturday crew.

Ron & Alicia "come closer Ron & I'll tell you a secret"

"It's not a twig."
Photos by Bill - Captions by John

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blog Contest - What's Wrong with these statements.

I found the statements below on the Penetang museum's website - Are they accurate? If not, why not?

"Either long or short, however, the town of Penetanguishene is one of the oldest in Canada west of Quebec City. In 1615, after the mapping of Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron, the Governor of New France sent Etienne Brule, an 18-year-old coureur de bois, to Huronia to learn the ways of the Huron Nations and establish and consolidate commercial fur trade contacts. Canoeing into Penetanguishene Bay, Brule landed in Toanche, and befriended the Hurons, living among the Huron until his death 1633.
Following the same canoe path and again landing at Toanche, Samuel de Champlain, the Governor of New France, arrived in Huronia two years after Brule on August 1, 1615. Together with Father Joseph Le Caron, they held the first mass in Canada west of Quebec City at  Carhagouha - Huron village (near present-day Orillia) on August 12th 1615."

Friday, August 03, 2012

August 9th, 2012 OAS Huronia Chapter Meeting Speaker: Prof. John Steckley

August 9th, 2012 OAS Huronia Chapter Meeting Speaker: Prof. John Steckley

Prof. John Steckley - "What it is like to be a Deer, a Snake, a Prairie Turtle....: Writing a clan-based history of the Wyandot." 

from Wikipedia:
 Dr. John L. Steckley is a Canadian scholar specializing in Native American Studies and the indigenous languages of the Americas.

Steckley has a Ph.D. in education from the University of Toronto. He has taught at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario since 1983.

Steckley is reportedly the last known speaker of the Wyandot (or Huron) language, which he has studied for over thirty years. He is also interested in place names as derived from indigenous languages, and aims to correct common misconceptions regarding the original derivations.

Steckley has become a deeply respected figure amongst the Wyandot. On his adoption into the Wyandot tribe in 1999, he was named Tehaondechoren ("he who splits the country in two"). He was also given the name "Hechon" by descendants of the Huron in Loretteville, Quebec City, while teaching them their own historical language. This was a name that had previously been given to Jean de Brébeuf (1593–1649), one of the North American Martyrs, by his Huron/Wyandot followers.

His 2007 Huron-English dictionary was the first book of its type for over 250 years to be published.

In 2007, Laval University received a federal grant of $1 million for development of its Huron-language teaching materials in collaboration with Steckley.

Meeting Details:
Meeting held at Huronia Museum on Aug. 9th at 7 pm, presentation open to the public, chapter business meeting which follows the presentation is open only to chapter members.
Huronia Museum  +  Native Village -- 549 Little Lake Park Rd. Midland, Ont.  (705) 526 2844