Sunday, November 24, 2013


A FEW THINGS are clear for the chapter heading into 2014:

  • in August it is likely we will have more public archaeology days
  • in October the chapter will have another event in association with the National Archaeology Day
  • monthly meetings with guest speakers at many of them
  • we will continue communications efforts thru this blog, Facebook and out website, and our newsletter for members
  • provincial OAS Symposium in October...
The 2013 Chapter AGM is to take place on December 12th and is a good time to bring any new ideas for the plan for 2014.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

from the unpublished journal of Jehan Leblanc

November 20th 1613 – The company was formalized with Conde’s support and given the monopoly for trade on the great river and beyond for a period of 11 years.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

from the unpublished journal of Jehan Leblanc

November 17th 1613 – I found Champlain in conference with men of means and dreams. Champlain had their ears and I was to paint the picture for their eyes. He introduced me as his Aid and gave me a seat at the table. I was nervous but honoured to be there in support of Champlain’s grand plans. His enthusiasm was infectious and resistance was overcome by his charm and sound business sense.

By the end of the day these men were won over and agreed to his proposal. Some of these families I know from before as du Mont's and Champlain's silent supporters. They were the investors from Rouen and Sainte Malo by the names of Le Gendre, Poree and Boyer.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Orillia's oldest road to be widened

ORILLIA - Archeologists were digging at the side of Coldwater Road the past couple of weeks, looking for any remnants of graves or an old log church built in the 1850s.
St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery exists on the south side of the road, where a rudimentary church stood facing southeast, named St. Michael’s.
“The parishioners were very poor and the church was constructed without nails, only wooden dowels and no pews. Worshippers either stood or knelt on the wooden floor,” reads the historic plaque in the cemetery.
“Many of these early pioneers and their descendants are buried in this cemetery,” it reads.
“When the church was too small, it was replaced in 1872 by the Church of Angels Guardian on West Street.”
The City of Orillia, as part of its transportation master plan, is looking at options for widening Coldwater Road from West Street to 200 metres southeast of Collegiate Drive.
Currently, that portion of the street is a two-lane road
“It was identified as having to be done because of the volume of traffic,” said Tracy Blanchard, project manager of technical services with the public works department.
The project is in the stage of getting the environmental assessment done as well as the creation of possible designs.
Part of the project included the hiring of Amick Consultants Ltd. to do an archeological look-see.
“It’s one of the locations of the earliest buildings and Coldwater Road is the oldest road in Orillia,” said Michael Henry, co-owner of the company based in Port McNicoll and London.
“We were trying to establish with the digging of squares if there was any remnants of that early church. It would be significant to the City of Orillia,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t find any evidence of this early church.”
While it’s a “disappointment,” Henry said it’s not surprising from a rudimentary building without a foundation or basement. Also, sacred items would have been removed.
Now that no archeology artifacts have been found, the Coldwater Road expansion project can continue.
Before year’s end, there will be a public meeting regarding the three best options, Blanchard said.

Friday, November 15, 2013

from the unpublished journal of Jehan Leblanc

November 15th 1613 – I received word that Champlain is organizing a meeting of investors and others for November 17th – he wishes me to attend if I can, as a witness to the adventures in New France.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Nov. 14 Susan Jamieson

November 14 7:00 PM  
Susan M. Jamieson
Before Ontario:
The Archaeology of a Province
Edited. by Merritt K. Munson and Susan Jamieson, McGill-Queens University Press $39.95
copies of this book are available for sale at the museum gift shop or online at -

Huronia Museum
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 OAS Huronia Chapter members. Huronia Museum 549 Little Lake Park Road. Midland, Ontario.  705.526.2844

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Public Archaeology Day Workshop

On a sunny but cold third of November 2013, the Huronia Chapter of the OAS held its Public Archaeology Symposium at the Huronia Museum, Midland, Ontario, from 10 am to 4 pm. It was a wonderful opportunity to experience university-level tuition in the various archaeological disciplines, led by professional archaeologists such as Alicia Hawkins (Laurentian University, Sudbury campus), Holly Martelle of Timmins-Martelle Heritage Consultants (London, Ontario), and last but not least Jamie Hunter (Huronia Museum, Midland). The chapter was also delighted to have the services of Rudy Fecteau, a master in the arcane mysteries of archaeobotanical investigation.
Some people were so eager (and so challenged by clock changing mathematics) that they turned up an hour early ― well, okay, one member, me. I know, spring forward, fall back.

Jamie Hunter of Huronia museum pointing out archaeological sites in Huronia.

Stations (tables) were set up catering to the various areas of archaeological specialty:cataloging and categorizing (Kristin Thor ― she makes logical thinking seem easy, and remember, I was the one who was clock-challenged); ceramics (Holly Martelle, entrancing, in every way, but I am referring to what she knows ― she talked about pottery discoveries on the nearby Ball site and made shattered bits of pots seem like the most exciting mystery story ever); historical archaeology (Jamie Hunter, the only man I know who refers to St. Jean de Brébeuf as “Booboo,” but Jamie has been around so long they probably knew each other, so all is forgiven); John Raynor (the spider in his web, awaiting any and all questions on the archaeology of Simcoe County, accompanied by his famed Map of the Sites in Simcoe); lithics (stone cold, man, stone cold); osteology (Alicia Hawkins ― she makes CSI look like a bunch of hobbyists); and of course archaeobotany (Rudy Fecteau ― who could charm a seed out of its pod or sweet talk a microscope to tell all); and washing the recently excavated finds (our own Huronia Chapter OAS member, Stephanie “Hockey Gurl.”

The real thrill for those of us who had excavated at the Allen Tract this last summer was that many of the things we were examining had been found there at good old BeGx-76. It was like coming home.

Recent finds from our public dig. 

Stephanie Duffy & Marg Raynor washing artifacts

Even CTV from Barrie arrived, getting in on the action. You know you are doingsomething right when 400-year-old archaeology features as news. 

Rumour had it that CTV actually came along for Marg Raynor’s soup and delectable edibles, which served as our midday break; let’s say one of the three sisters featured and sat very well on the digestion.

I hope this becomes an annual event. I have lots to learn: maybe a special station on

“Clocks, the setting and using of” might be considered in future. ― Peter Davis (November 2013)

Monday, November 04, 2013

Before Ontario

Use the dropdown to select a format.
$39.95 CAD

A lively and accessible introduction to Ontario's Aboriginal past, from the province’s leading archaeologists.

Before Ontario there was ice. As the last ice age came to an end, land began to emerge from the melting glaciers. With time, plants and animals moved into the new landscape and people followed. For almost 15,000 years, the land that is now Ontario has provided a home for their descendants: hundreds of generations of First Peoples.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

National Archaeology Day

Sunday November 3rd, 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM - Huronia Museum, Midland

This is an opportunity for archaeologists and archaeological enthusiasts to communicate with the public and each other through archaeologically-themed, interactive program and activities. 

This will be an educational hands-on learning experience, with several stations set up to detail:
• botanical, 
• faunal, 
• lithics,
• ceramics,
• historic identifications (glass beads, copper, iron),
• history of area sites (registered sites, mapping, overview)
• washing and
• cataloging of the artefacts excavated from the Allen Tract Site excavations in August - a newly discovered Huron/Wendat Village Site in the Midland Point area of historic Huronia.

To pre- register:
Email to Marg Raynor

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Members Meeting - Oct. 10th 2013

Members Meeting -  Oct. 10th 2013 - Huronia Museum - 7 PM

Another night of washing - artifacts from the Allen tract.

As a result of a our very successful public archaeology event at the Allen tract August 17th-18th we have a lot of artifacts that need our attention before we send them to Alicia Hawkins at Laurentian U for further detailed analysis.
Some of the artifacts that we cleaned up and sorted at our September meeting are pictured below, others appear in the fall edition of our newsletter "the POT" thanks to Bill Gibson.

We may also have a brief presentation on some new information on old material from the Narrows at Orillia.
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 OAS Huronia Chapter members. Huronia Museum 549 Little Lake Park Road. Midland, Ontario.  705.526.2844

Friday, September 13, 2013

Finds from our latest public dig.

After washing up some of the artifacts from our public dig in August these beads and other evidence of European trade will help us date the site. These artifacts and all the rest will go to Alicia Hawkins at Laurentian U. for further analysis.
Last year we found about 25 beads and other metal objects that will help tell the story of this site.
There are more photos of this collection on our Facebook page -

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Clean up time.

Members Meeting -Sept. 12th 2013 - Huronia Museum - 7 PM

As a result of a our very successful public archaeology event at the Allen tract August 17th-18th we have a lot of artifacts that need our attention before we send them to Alicia Hawkins at Laurentian U for further detailed analysis.

I will also share a number of quotes from Sagard's "Histoire du Canada" that indicate what we might expect to find on a Recollet era site (1615-1625). These quotes will also give us a slight glimpse into life in these villages at that time.
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 OAS Huronia Chapter members. Huronia Museum 549 Little Lake Park Road. Midland, Ontario.  705.526.2844

You can help us by completing this quick survey.
The Huronia Museum is undertaking a Strategic Planning Exercise that will identify strategic directions and actions to be taken over the next several years. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

So what Wendat village was the "first Mass" in Huronia held?

I was searching through Sagard's Histoire and came across the following paragraph which states that the first Mass said in Huronia was near the village of Toenchain (otherwise known as Toanche). Why then is it recorded as the village of Carhagouha.

"Our poor hut might be about twenty feet long and ten or twelve wide, in shape like a garden arbour, covered all over with tree-bark except at the ridge, where an open crack had been left from one end to the other to let out the smoke.  We finished it off ourselves as completely as we possibly could, making partition-walls of pieces of wood, which divided the hut into three rooms.  The first of these next to the door served us as bedchamber and kitchen, for doing all our little household work, and for our rest at night, which we took on the ground lying upon a little reed mat, with a block of wood for pillow and some logs that each had arranged in front of his bed so as not to be seen.  This division also served us as an assembly-room for receiving and conversing with our savages, who came daily to visit us.  The second room, the smallest, was that in which we kept our utensils and small furnishings.  And the third, in which we had set up an altar with pieces of wood fixed in the ground, served us as a chapel.  This was the second ever built in the Huron country and surrounding parts, in which Mass was celebrated every day, to the great satisfaction and comfort of our souls, for before us neither priest not friar had ever set foot upon it, with the sole exception of Father Joseph Le Caron, who celebrated the first mass near the town of Toenchain.  And for fear of the thievish hands of the savages we always kept the little bark doors closed and tied with bits of cord, having no better way of fastening them.  Around our dwelling, although the soil was rather poor and sandy, we made a little garden, fenced off by stakes so as to prevent free access by the children.  The peas, herbs and other trifles which we had sown there did quite well, and would have done better if the soil had been well cultivated, but we had to use an old axe instead of a spade, and a crooked pointed stick for all other implements." Histoire pgs 186-187

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The GPS units of the 1600's

From Sagard's Histoire - "Then taking my sun-dial I would leave the town to go somewhere apart, in order to be able to recite my office in peace and the engage in my customary prayer and meditation without disturbance."
These portable units were probably standard issue for the Priests and the rest of the French who explored Huronia in the 1600's. The combination of a compass and sundial were essentials tools when native guides were not on hand and you needed to get back to your cabin in time for dinner.
Used in conjunction with the astrolabe pictured below one could navigate pretty well without worrying about you batteries going dead or the satellite being unavailable.
Unfortunately, even with these devices, no one ever left us a map of Huronia detailed enough to follow their trails and find there cabins today.
I guess that we will just have to keep digging a little deeper to find their footprints and the sign they left behind

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Another Private Collection from Tay Point

A very unique pipe
 These photos are of part of a private collection held by the property owner and came to the surface when he put in his crops.  It was originally assessed to date circa 1550. However after sharing the photos with Dr Gary Warrick I got the following comment regarding this collection. "Interestingly, I examined the Penetang Lake artifacts from your photos that you provided. In my estimation, Penetang Lake dates ca. 1430-1460 - clearly a 15h century site, not a 16th century site."

More photos of the collection can be found on our Facebook page.

Photos courtesy of Marg Raynor

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

   Ontario Archaeological Society―Huronia Chapter:
   Public Archaeology Day
     (17―18 August 2013)

Saturday and Sunday, 17 and 18
of August 2013, were the “Public Archaeology Days,” sponsored and hosted by the Huronia Chapter of the OAS. Nature smiled on us with two gorgeous days of sun and soft breezes (no thunder storms as we endured last year), and the turnout was spectacular, at least 25 people on each day, with
ages ranging from youngsters to oldsters, each and every one being avid to get going and make great discoveries.
The dig was held at the Allen tract, in the Simcoe County Forests of the Tay Peninsula,
 lying between Midland and Penetanguishene. The task ahead of us was to continue sifting the soil of a midden which had been disturbed by pot-hunters, which we had spent two days on last year, to find what they had missed, and to bring the disturbed level down to untouched soil.
The dig is under the licence and aegis of Dr. Alicia Hawkins of Laurentian University
(Sudbury campus); also attending both days were Drs. Bonnie Glencross and Gary Warrick,
both of Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener-Waterloo.; we were also graced with the
inspired and inspirational presence of several happy youngsters ― imagine their utter delight:
an open invitation to get dirty.
And our hard work and dedication were rewarded: many beads (both glass and shell),
some copper material, several chert sherds, and the ever present burned corn, fish and mammal bones. There were some anomalies: some .22 shell casings (presumably not Ouendat or the books will have to be rewritten) and a broken axe head (whether it is trade period or not will have to be determined by much wiser minds, but it sure raised the blood pressures of several
of us). The beads were distinctive and varied, ranging from round shell or bone beads to a large, indigo coloured “football” bead, to varicoloured striped glass, tiny round red glass, long white and blue glass beads, and even a double football, fused, and incised, bead of dark indigo colour, very distinctive and a neat find. Gary Warrick took a walk in the creekbed, upstream from our dig, and came back with a huge collar of a pot, about the size of the open palm of one’s hand.
He reported more such sherds, too, but left them in situ.
Dr. Hawkins has given a preliminary date to this site, from the beads being found there,
of somewhere around 1610-30; it is, of course, a contact site, with the presence of French trade material being very evident. It is the intention of the chapter to continue the investigations next year, and it is fervently hoped that both Laurentian and Wifrid Laurier Universities will conduct field schools on this site and nearby sites in the years to come. All are invited to attend next year,
and are encouraged to join the Ontario Archaeological Society. See you then.

        ―Peter Davis, August 2013.

For more photos & Videos of this event please visit the PA 2013 album on our Facebook page.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Public Archaeology Days in Huronia.

L-R Mike Hanna and Jamie Simmons
Last weekend we held our 2013 Public Archaeology Days event at the Allen tract site in Penetang. This was another very successful year for this event and I would like to thank all those who helped to organize, host and supervise over the 2 days that we spent on site getting down a dirty under the direction of Dr. Alicia Hawkins of Laurentian U. Without the aid and support Alicia and some of her students to act as supervisors this event could not have taken place. I would also like to thank Dr. Gary Warrick and Dr. Bonnie Glencross of WLU for their participation and support over the weekend.
On Saturday we had a total of 33 people on site including 10 supervisors and chapter volunteers and on Sunday we had a total of 32 including 11 supervisors and chapter volunteers. These numbers are up from last years event and attracted 24 non chapter members, some of whom have now joined the OAS or are in the process of doing so.
More news, pictures and videos are on our Facebook page -
Dr Alicia Hawlins

Dr Bonnie Glencross
Dr Garry Warrick

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fort Tells of Spain’s Early Ambitions


 The New York Times of-spains-early-ambitions.html?ref=johnnoblewilford

In the Appalachian foothills of western North Carolina, archaeologists have discovered remains of a 16th century fort, the earliest one built by Europeans deep in the interior of what is now the United States. The fort is a reminder of a neglected period in colonial history, when Spain’s expansive ambitions ran high and wide, as yet unmatched by England.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kleinberg Ossuary talk - July 2013

Some points from the talk concerning the Kleinberg Ossuary by Professor Jerry Melbye of the University of Toronto at the July meeting of the Huronia Chapter of the OAS:
  • Farmer in plowing his field had thought he was disturbing animal bones
  • Excavation in 1970
  • From the records (17th century accounts) villages moved about every 10 years
  • Over the 10 year period people would die each year
  • At the time of the feast, there would be recent whole bodies, somewhat later partially decomposed bodies, and later bone bundles with bones from earliest deceased people
  • Two terms “Feast of the Dead” and “Feast of the Kettle”
  • This was a happy feast and people from outside the village were invited
  • Dimensions: 12 feet in diameter, 4 feet deep, circular, vertical walls, flat floor
  • Find gifts and food in the ossuary, communal not for an individual
  • Diet 50-60 percent corn
  • Sequence of “construction”: dig burial pit, place gifts, place whole bodies, place partially decomposed bodies, place bundles of bones which were opened and scattered
  • After the burial pit is closed and before the village can complete the move to the new village site, some individuals would die.  Their bodies were interred  close by around the burial pit but outside of the pit

Professor Melbye included some excellent photographs of the 1970 excavation, clear black and white photography from back in film photography days.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Should property buyers be told?

I had a call from someone looking at buying a lot and building an upscale home in Sugarbush (Oro-Medonte) and wondered if having a  village site or an ossuary in the neighbourhood would have an impact on their property value. The developer did not disclose the existence of the archaeological sites to the buyer prior the offer being made on the property. Should he have?   

An ossuary was found in the subdivision in December 2011 but is not marked as  an archaeological site or a First Nations burial site.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World ROM

The Royal Ontario Museum is the sole Canadian venue to host Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World during its international tour. June 22 until Jan. 5, 2014

Friday, June 21, 2013

July 11 Chapter meeting presentation: Dr. Jerry Melbye: Archaeology of the Kleinberg Ossuary

July 11 Dr. Jerry Melbye: Archaeology of the Kleinberg Ossuary

Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society is delighted that University of Toronto Professor Jerry Melbye, Ph. D, will give a talk about the archaeology of the Kleinberg Ossuary at our July chapter meeting.

Dr. Melbye is a Fellow, American Academy of Forensic Science and Diplomate, American Board of Forensic Anthropology.

This is a site of the southern Hurons near Kleinberg, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Melbye's website can be found at

To view some interesting images associated with the Klienberg ossuary at his website see:

Thursday July 11th, 2013 7:00 pm
Huronia Museum 549 Little Lake Park Road. Midland, Ontario.  705.526.2844

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

OAS Peterborough Chapter presentation on connection to Uncle Tom's Cabin

On June 25, 2013 the Peterborough Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society presents 
The Struggle for Race and Freedom in Ontario: An Archaeological Perspective by Dena Doroszenko of the Ontario Heritage Trust 

old lenses gain new life

If you happen to still have in a drawer somewhere some old lenses for film cameras, especially any old macro lenses of good quality, I have a suggestion how to recycle them into the new digital age. Macro lenses being the cat's meow when doing archaeological photography such as glass beads and in my case recently, gar fish scales.
Now it's true that various cameras can use these old lenses. but recently something a little better.  I have been using an adapter on my Sony NEX F3 camera to mount old manual focus Contax/Yashica mout lenses. It has a feature that is remarkably useful, helpful and quite elegant. 
Once you frame your shot, you can press a button to temporarily zoom in to your image to fine tune your manual focusing, there are in fact two levels of peaking zoom. Once you continue depressing the shutter, your full image returns and you can take the shot. This feature is outstanding. Adds just a moment to the taking of a shot and the results are perfect.
The camera uses aperture priority and you get a perfectly exposed shot. 
One slightly sneaky detail.  You need to change one of the camera's default settings to make this magic occur.  You look under menu/setup and change "release shutter without lens" to enabled.  Oddly worded but it is the setting you need to change for success.
My adapter came thru and cost just $29. There is a large number of adapters for the various lenses from various manufacturers.
I imagine all the NEX cameras have this feature. The F3 is entry level and can be purchased for $400-450. Shop around. I got mine thru a special sale item from Staples.
It is very satisfying to be able to use effectively those fine old, high quality optics from film photography days.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Council Rock - history etched in stone.

Members Meeting -  June 13th 2013 - Huronia Museum - 7 PM

Presentation by Jamie Hunter, Huronia Museum
Council Rock - history etched in stone. - archaeological artifact or historical document?
Meeting Details: Meeting held at Huronia Museum at 7 pm, presentation open to the public, chapter business meeting follows the presentation.
The Huronia chapter welcomes the staff and students from Laurentian University's field school currently taking place in Huronia to this evening's meeting. They will be taking a tour of the Wendat village and the museum starting at 5:30PM followed by Pizza courtesy of the chapter. Please feel free to join them for the tour and Pizza followed by our regular meeting at 7PM.
 Huronia Museum 549 Little Lake Park Road. Midland, Ontario.  705.526.2844

This is also a good time to renew your membership if you have not already done so.