Friday, January 11, 2013


Who owns the artifacts?

The answer to this question is ambiguous at best. The answer differs somewhat depending on the landowner: the rules for federally owned lands, such as national parks, and First Nations reserves are different from those applying other lands in Ontario. The Ontario government does not assert ownership of artifacts, but it does set out the laws governing the practice of archaeology in the province. These state that:
1.     Only a licensed archaeologist may collect or excavate artifacts in the province of Ontario.
2.     Under the terms of the licence, the government charges the archaeologist with holding the artifacts in trust for the people of Ontario.
3.     The archaeologist may place the artifacts in a public institution, such as a museum, for safekeeping.
In other words, the licensed archaeologist is the only person who may collect artifacts, but she or he does not own them. In fact, one could say that every resident of Ontario owns them, but no single individual does.

Does this mean that I need to turn over the collection that my grandfather made in 1952?

No. While it would be great if it was donated to a museum, the province is not attempting to recover old collections. It does mean that you should not be adding to that collection.  
Can anyone dig?

Only those with an archaeological licence or people directly supervised by someone with a professional or research archaeological license may excavate.

What is the penalty for digging without a license?

The Ontario Heritage Act prohibits anyone from disturbing or altering an archaeological site — whether on land or under water — unless they hold a valid archaeological licence issued by the ministry. You may be disturbing an archaeological site, if you pick up arrowheads in a farmer's field, grade an archaeological site with a bulldozer, or take objects from a shipwreck.
Anyone who disturbs or alters an archaeological site or removes an artifact from a site without a licence can be fined or imprisoned. A person or a director of a corporation found in violation of the act or its regulations can face a fine of up to $1,000,000 or imprisonment for up to one year or both. A corporation found in violation of the act or the regulations can face a fine of up to $250,000.
What happens if we find a burial?

The Cemeteries Act and the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, when proclaimed in force, requires anyone who uncovers a burial site containing human remains to report the discovery to the appropriate authorities — the police or a coroner. Likewise, archaeologists who encounter human remains during archaeological fieldwork are required to comply with all relevant provisions of the Cemeteries Act and Ontario Regulation 133/92 (Burial Sites) as part of the terms and conditions of their archaeological licence.
If human remains are discovered during land development activities, all construction and soil disturbance must stop immediately to allow the authorities to investigate. All archaeological fieldwork must stop until the coroner has had the opportunity to investigate and the Registrar of Cemeteries has been consulted. The Cemeteries Act requires that the descendants or representatives of those buried at the site be consulted prior to any decision regarding final disposition of the remains be made.
Who are the descendants of the people who once lived here?
The Huron/Wendat confederacy that consisted of four or five confederated nations living between Nottawasaga Bay and Lake Simcoe. They reported to have lived here some 200 to 300 years prior to the first Europeans arriving in Huronia and were Iroquoian by culture and language

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