Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Water Levels in Old Huronia

As noted in numerous previous posts this past fall, the Martyr's Shrine and Ste. Marie among the Hurons joined forces in mounting a campaign to stop the development of an industrial site that they are concerned would detract from their operations and possibly destroy some sites that relate to Huronia's well documented past. In preparation for this I was asked to provide what information I could regarding sites in the vicinity of this proposed development. As no archaeological assessment had been requested by the Town of Midland I resorted to my database and what ever other documentation at my disposal to assist these historic sites in building their case.

While investigating archaeological and historical sites in and around Ste. Marie among the Huron and the Martyrs Shrine I reviewed "Before and Beyond Sainte Marie" (Friends of Sainte Marie - 1995) and was able to use the research contained within this publication to support the identity and location of numerous sites of interest close to the land in question.
While reviewing this report I came across a section that I had highlighted in earlier research regarding the water level of the Wye River at the time of Ste. Marie (top of page 201). This led me to another report commissioned by the Wye Marsh (Ste. Marie's neighbour on the Wye) regarding the origins of the marsh and the water levels over time.

Why water levels matter?
Why should we as historians or archaeologists care about water levels? In the above noted report it concludes that the water level of the Wye River at Ste. Marie was 11 ft. higher than it is now (publication date 1990) and hence all of Lake Huron had a higher water level at the time of first contact.

When looking for landing sites that relate to Champlain, Sagard or the Jesuits or the ports used for trade or the villages that supported these ports and landing spots 11 ft in additional depth of water on an area of now shallow beach with a gradual slope inland can make a significant difference as to where one might look for such a site.

I want to suggest that we need to study this subject further as it is obvious from some of the earliest posts on this blog that some influential thinkers in the historical and archaeological community maintain that the water levels of Old Huronia are essentially the same as they are today. -

Should you have additional documentation in support of either theory please post or make a comment and perhaps we can add the subject to our list of possible presentations for the upcoming year.

1 comment:

Gary DuBeau said...

I would have to agree with you on this one John! I’m not a historian, and I’m not in any way clamming to be an archeologist, but I have dabbled in both! The one thing I can stake clam to is that I am a 51 year local and I have over those years roamed this end of the world extensively! Weather it was due to work, play or just plain old adventurer in me, I have a good knowledge of the people, places and events. With that under my belt I can give my proof to your thesis!
If I look back to the days when mom would pack us kids into that old car she had and take us to Daoust Bay so that we could enjoy the summer sun, will playing on the beach, I believe it had to do with water! I can say that the water has gone down, as I look at it today! We could not go to the once was doc that was there because like any good Mom she could not be certain that as kids we would not venture out to fare. But as time went on and we did not need the supervision of Mom we guys would bike down and play at the doc. It probable would have been in the time that Chambers own it cuss I remember the old man constantly telling us not to play there but kids will be kids and most of the time he had a business to run so we would do it any way! He I’m certain could tell you the hole story of that place as he is still around on (hiway 93) at that car lot across from (Chekens place) Jonston Fruit Market. At that time there was a good timber cribbed doc there and you had to be able to dive good and long to go to the bottom. In my teen we would go and net smelts at that same place and on that doc it was the best place to get them as they came around the point heading to the creek just past the old ones was store that was there.
Another area that I see a major change in is in the area to the north of Tiny. The shore from the point at Mary- Grove to Sawlog! There the water is significantly down and that is not just do to the 7 year thing! We worked for many years at Sowlog for Father Austin a retired priest from the city; he always had something hi needed done around his old cottage. It was one of those jobs that we ended up doing from the inside out over many many years. The last time I was out that way I had to stop and look at the water for some time before I could figure out what did not look right with that picture. The beach is growing it looked like. Well as fare as I can tell, send does not multiply like rabbits but in can be move from the bottom but only if the top goes down if that make any sense to any one! The other factor is that water backs up, like it has done over time in the pass. So If I have notice in 50 odd year a change in the geographic borders of my back yard then I would have to say that in 400 years there is a good possibility that I could multiply by 8 times the approximate decline of the water and be nowhere close in many areas to the location that I see the shore line today. This is only a hypostases, like my English teacher would say! LOL But It as good a one as some of the BS that I have been told by some that have much more influence than me, in this neck of the woods !!!!!!!!! Thanks for the challenge of making me think this out a little LOL