Sunday, January 27, 2019

When Archaeological Sites Are Offered For Sale

Archaeological sites and Real Estate.

Question: Should archaeological sites be registered on property title?

As one whose interest in archaeology started when I was still practicing real estate, I have always been curious as to why archaeological sites are not automatically registered on a property’s title papers.
As an archaeologist, I see part of our job as acting as custodians of the past, protectors of archaeological sites and educators of the public about the footprints of history that lie beneath their feet.
When I have asked this question before, the real estate agent in me would say “would this registration not have an impact on property values, and what about property rights? Would those be limited?
When I have reflected on this as an archaeologist, I say, “So what?”
As a real estate agent with an increasing knowledge of archaeology that includes the location of sites within my area, I found myself conflicted. I was bound by real estate law to fully disclose whatever I knew or had been made aware of about any property that I either listed or sold. As an archaeologist, there is an unwritten code of secrecy when it comes to revealing site locations and municipal planning authorities are strongly discouraged or forbidden to reveal the location of sites within their jurisdiction unless a development plan proposal has been put before them.
This process seems a little ass-backwards to me. If a developer sees a property within a designated growth area or they choose to speculate on rural property on the edge of town, they may put in an offer of purchase and then approach the planning authorities with a draft plan. That property purchase, along with the costs incurred for the preparation of a draft plan and a possible zoning change will require a significant financial investment on behalf of the developer.
It is only at this point that an environmental assessment is triggered, and as part of the process, an archaeological assessment may also be required.
As a real estate professional who was aware of archaeological sites being located on properties listed for sale, did I have the obligation to disclose this information? What would be the ramifications of either informing or not informing my clients of knowledge that I had about the property? Am I opening myself up to a lawsuit?
Archaeological surveys and site report have been made available to municipalities in my area since the 1890s, yet my experience has been that most, if not all, of the planners that I met were unaware of, and frankly somewhat disinterested in the existence of, let alone, the content of these reports. They believed that the checklist indicating whether a property had archaeological potential was all that they needed. They were not interested in, or felt the need for, an inventory or list of sites within the municipalities they worked for.
Back to the potential for a lawsuit. As that conflicted licensed real estate agent who also held an archaeological license, I was waiting for the day when a developer sued a municipality for negligence for failure to disclose pertinent information that could render their development plan useless or less profitable than anticipated. The developer not only faced the cost of the assessment, but he may also be informed that a significant portion of the land that he had purchased could not be built on. His claim would be that the municipality failed to disclose information that they knew or “should have known” prior to his purchase of the property. Fortunately, the only lawsuits that I was threatened with came from a developer who did not want me informing residents of sites within that development and a CRM company that did not want me to divulge information about potential ossuaries within their contracted area that they had chosen not to investigate or report, even though they had been indicated in a site survey and a previous CRM stage 2 report. As a result, I lost my avocational licence for allegedly interfering with a CRM professional contract, but I felt vindicated when one of those ossuaries was dug up in the process of grading a lot for a home, and the other noticed and brought to my attention by a property owner, who attended a public meeting, who was curious about a strange depression in a greenbelt area not 20 ft from the back of their yard.
So, in conclusion, for the sake of full disclosure and our desire to protect sites, I would like to suggest that we as archaeologists, through whatever organizations we belong to advocate for archaeological sites to be placed on property title. They do it for dump sites and contaminated soil sites, but not for ossuaries or other sites that we and others see as important markers of sacredness and history.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Ontario Bill 66 and its possible impact on archaeology in Ontario

Dear OAS member,
In the last president's message I called your attention to Bill 66 and some of the impacts it could have to archaeological heritage and Indigenous rights (as well as environmental protections) in Ontario. I indicated that comment on the bill could be sent to Ken Peterson at by today, Jan. 20.
Since that message, our past president, Paul Racher, has attended two consultations sessions with the Ontario government on behalf of the OAS. While at one of these, he learned about the government's plan to increase housing supply:
While the specifics of this plan are not yet fully understood, the rhetoric that is being used suggests that the government wants to make approval processes faster through "streamlining." They state that "The various regulatory requirements and approvals were established to serve specific public interests, policy objectives of government goals. Efforts to streamline these requirements need to balance these multiple goals."
As an organization, the OAS is committed to speaking out to protect archaeological heritage. We have had representation at the consultation meetings we have been invited to. We have submitted comment on Bill 66 and we will submit comment on the proposed Housing Supply Action Plan. We have, and will continue to frame this in terms of language that we hope the current government will understand: that adhering to Official Plans, the Provincial Policy Statement (2014), and Archaeological Master Plans decreases risk, cost, and duplication for municipalities and developers because it allows for identification of archaeological sites early in the approval process.
We have been in touch with a number of organizations who we believe might also have concerns about both Bill 66 and the Housing Supply Action Plan. This includes Indigenous organizations and other heritage organizations.
Should you wish to assist the OAS in advocacy efforts you have a several options.
1. You can comment on the Housing Supply Action Plan here until Jan. 25 (
2. You can contact your municipality, as several OAS members have already done, as it is at the municipal level that many decisions about planning are made.
3. You can assist the OAS by volunteering to help with advocacy efforts. Members have made a number of suggestions about what the OAS could do - ranging from issuing press releases to networking with various heritage organizations. As a volunteer organization, we can always use assistance in such efforts.
Alicia Hawkins

Monday, January 07, 2019

Our 1st Members Meeting of 2019

Happy New Year and compliments of the season.

Beginning the year 2019 in fine style, on Wednesday, 9 January, 7 p.m. at the Thompson Room of the North Simcoe Recreation Centre in Midland, our speaker will be Janet Turner, and her topic will be titled “The Molson Site: A Proto-Historic First Nations Settlement, Barrie, Ontario.”

Janet Turner, a secondary school Teacher, was given the unique opportunity to run a Summer School Co-op Education programme under the direction of Paul Lennox and Gary Warrick in 1985 at the Molson Site in Barrie. Co-op Education was in its infancy at this time, so 22 chosen students from the five Barrie secondary schools (grades 9-12) received two Grade 11 credits in “Archaeology” for the instruction they got over a five-week period from the archaeological crew. This was considered to be a salvage dig as major development was imminent.

Janet was raised on a farm in Innisfil Township and has always been intensely interested in the history of the area. The fact that The Molson Site, being located off Harvey Road and in Innisfil and not yet annexed by Barrie at the time, increased her enthusiasm for the project.
Janet had been trained by Dr. Dean Knight and Isobel Ball earlier at the Ball Site off Mount St. Louis Road and had subsequently written a Grade 12 Curriculum based on her experiences, which a Twin Lakes Secondary School teacher and other educators used.

Janet would like to share with others her experiences at the Molson Site as well as the conclusions drawn by Paul Lennox in his Archaeological Report, mindful of the spirit of Reconciliation.

The public is free to join us at no cost.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

TMHC Active Job Postings

Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc. is now accepting applications for the following positions:

Please note:

  • Archaeological projects throughout southern Ontario
  • Field staff must be prepared for some overnight travel with accommodations and per diem provided
  • Most projects run out of London office
  • Field staff will be transported to site and paid their full wage for travel
  • Some fieldwork will be conducted jointly with First Nations Communities. First Nations members are encouraged to apply
  • We are an equal opportunity employer
  • TMHC Inc. welcomes applications from people with disabilities
  • Accommodations are available upon request for candidates participating in all parts of the selection process

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

A New Book by Michel Gros-Louis

This book should be available in English soon.

John Todd This is the English translation of an introduction to Mr. Gros-Louis' book, 'Les Hurons-Wendats:regards nouveaux':

"This book deals with the history of the Huron-Wendat nation from 1534 to the present day, the culture that this nation shares with the 
other Iroquoian nations, and the language that is now extinguished, but which is a testimony to the occupation. of the territory. We will see how the legend supports the hypothesis of their occupation of the shores of the St. Lawrence at the time of Jacques Cartier and how this hypothesis is reinforced by linguistic data. It will also be noted that the toponymic data testify to the Wendat's occupation of the north shore of Lake Ontario even after the dispersal of 1650. The Huron language has not been spoken for about 90 years, but it has been well documented by the missionaries, especially the Jesuit Potter, which makes revitalization possible today."