Session Abstracts

Contributed Papers

Chair: Alicia Hawkins

Archaeology at the Niagara Apothecary 1988 – 2021

 Dena Doroszenko, Ontario Heritage Trust, Toronto, ON

In 1964, pharmacist E. W. Field, closed his practice in Niagara-on-the-Lake due to ill health. This pharmacy had been in operation for a total of 156 years by 6 pharmacists, 5 of whom had been apprenticed to their predecessors. Re-opened in 1971 as an authentic restoration of an 1866 pharmacy, the building is owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and curated by the Ontario College of Pharmacists. Several archaeological investigations have taken place in the rear yard of the apothecary, 1988, 2016, 2017 and most recently, 2021. The excavation of a large feature recovered hundreds of pharmaceutical bottles dating from the late 1800s to the early 1900s and was discovered first in 1988 and completed in 2021. While this assemblage allows for discussion on the role of the pharmacist in a small community as well as allowing observations to be made regarding the community’s behavior and social needs with this service over time particularly in response to disease. The local apothecary was part of an old tradition, that of being a medical advisor and this site has a wealth of historical records and archaeological data to review developments in local health in small town Ontario. However, the archaeological work in the tiny rear yard also revealed a much richer history and time depth to this property that was somewhat unexpected and to date, close to 30,000 artifacts have been recovered that will assist in telling the story of not only about the apothecary but also the growth and development of the town from the late 18th century including evidence of destruction during the War of 1812.

Rediscovering Fort Norfolk

Chris Menary, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Toronto, ON

The fortification of Turkey Point on Lake Erie was originally envisioned by Lt-Gov Simcoe in the 1790s, though work was delayed until the War of 1812. With the loss of control of western Upper Canada in late 1813, Turkey Point was identified as a location for a shipyard and covering garrison. Construction began in 1814 and lasted until the end the war in the spring of 1815. The fort was never completed, and records indicate only a blockhouse and partial palisade were built. The exact location and layout of the fort are unknown; three archaeological surveys of Turkey Point Provincial Park failed to produce evidence of the fort’s location, a golf course was built in the general vicinity, and the site was reforested in the 1960s. The current historic register reads “there no extant remains of Fort Norfolk”.

Using Lidar, earthworks were identified near the NHSMB cairn. Using archival records and an analysis of contemporary 17th/18th Century fortifications, a possible site plan for Fort Norfolk can be derived. The earthworks differ from most forts in Ontario and appear to represent a temporary field fortification that was planned to have been enlarged and strengthened had the war continued into 1815.

Fruitful Findings: Examination of mid to late 19th-century Archaeobotanical Material from St. John’s Ward, Toronto

Breanne Reibl, Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc., London, ON

In 2015 TMHC Inc., under the direction of Infrastructure Ontario, excavated a block in St. John’s Ward, an area of downtown Toronto that was once home to a vibrant, multi-cultural working-class neighbourhood. Over 1100 litres of soil were collected from many privies, cisterns, pits, and other features for flotation. This paper provides a preliminary review of the plants available to the mid to late 19th-century residents of St. John’s Ward through the archaeobotanical analysis of these soil samples. Botanicals ranged from coconut shells that fit in your hand to barely perceptible poppy seeds. The findings demonstrate how residents in this urban setting had access to a wide array of food plants—both domestic and imported, in addition to ornamental, cultivated plants.

Considering Passenger Pigeon Abundance and Distribution in the Iroquoian Zooarchaeological Record of Southern Ontario

Trevor J. Orchard, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, ON

Suzanne Needs-Howarth, Perca Zooarchaeological Research & The Archaeology Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Alicia Hawkins, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, ON

Louis Lesage, Nionwentsïo Office, Huron-Wendat Nation, Wendake

Eric Guiry, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Thomas Royle, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC

The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was once the most abundant bird species in North America, with flocks witnessed in the early 19th century said to darken the sky for days as they passed. Neumann’s 1985 synthesis of passenger pigeon remains in archaeological contexts in the eastern United States, in contrast, found them to be relatively rare in relation to other fowl, leading to the suggestion that the historic hyper-abundance originated with European-contact-induced demographic and ecological changes. In this paper, we synthesize zooarchaeological data on passenger pigeon skeletal remains from Iroquoian contexts in Ontario and present the ratio of passenger pigeon to other bird taxa, using GIS to provide a broad spatiotemporal overview of the distribution and relative prevalence of those remains across our study area. Our results, based on a preliminary meta-analysis involving 180 sites, reveal that passenger pigeon bones are common, and often abundant, in Iroquoian archaeological assemblages in Ontario, speaking to the importance of passenger pigeon to the Iroquoian occupants of the region. However, while passenger pigeon remains are near-ubiquitous, their relative abundance varies over time, suggesting longer-term trends in their availability and/or in hunting patterns.

What Animal Is This Anyway? Assessing Data Quality in Undergraduate Student Faunal Reports

Alicia Hawkins, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, ON

Suzanne Needs-Howarth, Perca Zooarchaeological Research & The Archaeology Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Trevor J. Orchard, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, ON

Our research group’s increasing use of meta-analyses for large-scale consideration of zooarchaeological patterning across the archaeology of Ontario has raised issues of data quality. For example, during the 22 years Howard Savage taught the faunal archaeo-osteology lab course at the University of Toronto, his students produced approximately 400 reports. This represents an enormous amount of labour, as well as a significant potential data source that remains under-utilized. The data in these reports can be used for big-data projects if it is possible to determine with reasonable confidence that the taxonomic identifications are largely correct. In this paper, we evaluate the data quality of five student reports from a total of three archaeological sites. We then compare the data from these reports with datasets generated by us from the same sites. This comparison has highlighted some key indicators that will aid us and others in assessing the usefulness of identifications within certain taxonomic categories in student reports. Although we have explicitly focused on assessing learner data, our approach may be useful for assessing quality in other contexts as well.

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