Session Abstracts

The National Capital Commission’s Assessment and Rescue of Archaeology Legacy (ARAL) Project

Chair: Ian Badgley

The Assessment and Rescue of Archaeological Legacy: An Overview

Ian Badgley, National Capital Commission, Ottawa, ON

The National Capital Commission launched the Assessment and Rescue of Archaeological Legacy (ARAL) project in 2018, in response to the catastrophic spring flood of 2017 and the ongoing erosion of archaeological sites in the Capital region. A long-term project intended to survey all shorelines managed by the NCC, over the past four years ARAL’s field activities have focused on redocumenting and monitoring the erosion of pre-contact archaeological sites located mainly along the section of the Ottawa River extending between the mouths of the Gatineau and Rideau rivers. These activities have included intensive annual surface-collecting, with GIS mapping of artifact findspots as a part of an emerging strategy for rescue excavations. This presentation is an introduction to the papers in this session. It provides an overview of the project’s goals, approach, preliminary results and challenges to the rescue of archaeological legacy in the Capital region.

The Rising River and Cost to Cultural Heritage: The Initial Phase of the ARAL Project

Nadine Kopp, Paterson Group Inc., Ottawa, ON

In 2018, Paterson Group Inc., on behalf of the National Capital Commission (NCC), undertook shoreline assessments of NCC properties along the Québec side of the Ottawa River to assess erosion damage to known archaeological sites and to document any unregistered archaeological resources. Collaboration with Pikwàkanagàn and Kitigan Zibi First Nations was an integral part of this project. The 24 known archaeological sites along the river are a testament to its important role as a central transportation network and occupational corridor for millennia. Regular seasonal fluctuating water levels and erosion have impacted and endangered many of these sites, heightened by the effects of climate change and the catastrophic 2017 spring flooding in the National Capital RegionThe aim of the project was to provide a baseline for informing recommendations for mitigation and management of these endangered sites. This initial survey reaffirmed the tremendous archaeological importance of both Leamy Lake Park and Jacques-Cartier Park and highlighted the threat of ongoing shoreline erosion in these areas while underscoring the need for urgent action to prevent further loss of artifactual and contextual information from these valuable sites.

Site Monitoring and Rescue Archaeology in the National Capital Region

Bob Clark, Archaeological Consultant, Ottawa, ON

Phase 2 of the Assessment and Rescue of Archaeological Legacy (ARAL) project has been ongoing since 2019. This monitoring phase of the project has focused mainly on the systematic surface-collecting of artifacts eroding from pre-contact sites in 3 NCC parks on the Ottawa River. In all, 14 sites were investigated during 2019 and 2020, with the addition in 2021 of another pre-contact site on the Rideau River. GPS coordinates were recorded for findspots comprising individual and concentrations of artifacts occurring within a radius of 1 to 2 metres in all sites, and later transferred to a GIS map base identifying the individual findings at each location. Though still in an experimental stage, the Phase 2 work has begun to provide a better understanding of the mechanics of shoreline erosion and, hence, direction towards a more refined approach to the collection and application of surface finds to rescue archaeology. This presentation describes the Phase 2 methodology, results to date and some of the challenges arising from this approach. 

Erosion of Archaeological Sites at Leamy Lake Park: A Case Study

Emilie Bélanger, National Capital Commission, Ottawa, ON

This presentation pertains to a hearth area excavated in 2019 by three students working for the National Capital Commission at BiFw-6, in Leamy Lake Park, Gatineau. This hearth is significant due to the intensity of the erosion on this shoreline and the importance of rescuing these features from the precontact sites on the Ottawa River shoreline. The stones of the hearth were protruding from the shoreline clay, and in August 2019 a grid system of 6 square meters were put in place to excavate this hearth and its direct surroundings. Excavating this hearth uncovered artifacts, such as chert and pottery, ecofacts, such as calcined bone and charcoal, as well as soil variations indicative of human occupation. The bone and charcoal residues were carbon dated to the Middle Woodland period. This data would have definitively been lost to the rapid erosion of the clay on the Ottawa River shoreline. The goal of this presentation is to bring awareness to the loss of archaeological heritage on the shorelines of the Ottawa River due to unmitigated erosion.

Using a GIS based Rescue Strategy to Identify Archaeological Significant Locations

Amelia Hewitt, GIS technician, NCC Geomatics, Ottawa, ON

A Geographic Information System (GIS) processes geographic data to provide meaningful information to allow for intelligent decision-making. The use of GIS interactive mapping to view locations of roughly 60, 000 artifacts surface-collected at pre-contact sites on the Ottawa River in the Capital region, makes it possible to analyze and determine the optimal locations for specific rescue excavations. A variety of spatial analysis tools and views were used to examine the relationship between location, material type and archaeological artifacts collected. With this information, the National Capital Commission (NCC) can maximize their efforts for future archaeological field collecting and excavations focusing on the locations with the “most culturally significant”artifacts and information. 

Kichisipi Chert: An Initial Characterization Study

Ian Badgley, National Capital Commission, Ottawa, ON

“Kichisipi chert” is by far the most abundant toolstone found in pre-contact archaeological sites in the National Capital Region. This lithic raw material has often been identified in local archaeological contexts as Balsam Lake, Bobcaygeon, Gull Riveror Trent chert, all of which are essentially the same chert associated with the same widespread Upper Ordovician limestones. In an effort to identify the varieties of Kichisipi chert accurately as a single local raw material, an initial study of in situ samples from 3 separate localities was carried out and compared with 8 representative archaeological specimens identified as Kichisipi chert. The methods and results of this characterization study are described in this paper.

This presentation is based on a report prepared by Dr. Quentin Gall, Geological Consultant, who was contracted by the Assessment and Rescue of Archaeological Legacy project to conduct the chert characterization study.

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