Tag Archives: CRM

Victoria ASBC Public Talk, Tuesday May 17: Locarno Houses?!

UVIC students visiting "Aquattro Site" near Esquimalt Lagoon, 2008.

The next scheduled public talk of the Archaeological Society of BC, Victoria Chapter, will be held next Tuesday evening at 7.30 at the Pacific Forestry Centre, 506 West Burnside Road (map).  The talk is free and open to any member of the public.

The talk is entitled Preliminary Investigation Results from DcRu-1151: A Locarno-Age Living and Processing Site at Esquimalt Lagoon, and will be given by local archaeologists Kristi Bowie and Kira Kristensen.

I had the pleasure of visiting this site while it was being excavated a few years ago.  All signs were that the site included the remains of a house dating to between 2500 and 3500 years ago, the “Locarno Beach” period, though at that time the feature was not directly dated.  Very little is known of domestic structures from this time and so the finds could be quite exciting. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this site, though it is doubtful I will be able to attend this talk due to the ongoing circumstances which also keep this blog running slowly.  I am pasting in the abstract and speaker biographies below, or else click here for the PDF.

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Willows Beach Archaeological Site Landowner to Appeal, Again

These darn, hidden sites that no one expects: archaeology at the Willows Beach Site, ca. 1990. (Not the MacKay Property) Source: Millennia Research 1990.

I apologize to readers from afar who may not be interested in the apparently parochial matter of a local woman’s encounter with archaeology on the Oak Bay waterfront, and the incomplete journalism which accompanied it.

But with the news Saturday (PDF*) that the Willows Beach landowner, Wendi MacKay, intends to appeal the earlier decision of Justice Fitzpatrick to the B.C. Court of Appeal, it becomes possible this case (previously 1, 2) will have repercussions for the practice of archaeology across the entire province.  I hadn’t really thought about the implications of an appeal since, well, Fitzpatrick (section 33-38)] essentially says, “I would find the case in your favour if I could, but you gave up your rights to appeal, so I can’t.”

I might be calling wolf in my fears aired below.

But, bear with me.

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Update – Willows Beach Site Controversy

Landowner Wendi MacKay in front of her house at DcRt-10. Source: Oak Bay News.

There is a new local newspaper article out on the Willows beach issue, below, which contains some important information and I think warrants  new post.  The article (PDF) from the Oak Bay News, confirms what was proposed in my previous post.

Namely,  the archaeological work at the site did not cost anywhere near the  $600,000 which was widely reported.

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Willows Beach Site Controversy

Archaeological site DcRt 10, Willows Beach, at 2072 Esplanade Avenue, in 2007. Source: Bruce Stotesbury, Timescolonist.com

Sorry for the lack of recent updates everyone, and also for jumping in with a “feel-bad” story, but since the Willows Beach site (DcRt-10) takes up a decent chunk of the most expensive waterfront near me,  I was interested to read the coverage of a recent court judgment with an archaeological focus.  The Times-Colonist‘s coverage is notable for an egregious misrepresentation in their opening sentence:

“An Oak Bay woman who built a house on an unregistered aboriginal midden has had her bid to recoup $600,000 from the provincial Archeology Branch struck down.”

This is true only for meanings of “unregistered” which include “a site recorded since approximately 1965, and subsequently the object of dozens of archaeological studies, including at least two on that very lot”.  Sheesh.

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BC Archaeology Forum 2010

I got the news yesterday that the annual B.C. Archaeology Forum has been scheduled.  The event will be co-hosted by the Musqueam First Nation and the UBC Laboratory of Archaeology and held November 5-7.  You can download a registration form here (MS-Word document)

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Convictions in Yakima Looting Case, with comments on B.C.

Looting at Wakemap Mound, 1957.

A news snippet from Washington State: from the Yakima Herald-Republic, via the excellent Washington Department of Archaeology and Heritage Preservation Blog.

“Yakima, Wash. — Two Goldendale residents found guilty of looting American Indian artifacts from a Yakama Nation cultural site have been sentenced to pay $6,690 in damages and placed on two years probation. The pair have also been sentenced to 150 hours each of community service.Devin Prouty, 27 and Tiffany E. Larson, 24, both pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to unlawfully removing artifacts, including rocks, rock flakes made by indigenous people and arrowheads from Spearfish Park near the Columbia River in Klickitat County…”

Looting is a serious problem in Washington and Oregon States but is it one in British Columbia as well?

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CRM problem at Englishman River

Excavation of house foundations at Englishman River. Source: CBC

Hmm, I just noticed today is the first anniversary of this blog.  Mind you, it was a slow and intermittent affair at first but with more regular posting has come steady increase in readership.

But you know who else had a birthday on April 20th?

With that in mind, what better way to celebrate than by checking out the firestorm brewing on the Englishman River, where some landowners, perhaps wilfully ignorant, have had an unfortunate series of events transpire regarding an archaeological site on their property. The Archaeology Branch has responded to the story with a terse memo.

A little background to start:

All archaeological sites in B.C. dating to before 1846 A.D. are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act.  This is true whether or not they are known to the Archaeology Branch or unknown and unrecorded.  In some ways, then, it is not relevant that the site under these people’s house was first recorded, I am told, in 1975.  Even if it was first discovered by the application of a backhoe in April 2010, it would be accorded the same protection under the law. The fact that the landowners claim to have not known about the site until recently is an interesting issue that does not really materially affect the facts of this case. And, under the standard procedures in place, they are indeed responsible for paying the costs of the archaeological investigations, in this case reported to be $35,000.  Whether or not they have the money also doesn’t affect the facts of the case – incidentally, these people who self-portray as poor and unemployed are finding archaeology because they are building a new house on their property, which must be costing them several hundred thousand dollars.

So, these facts may not actually alter the legal responsibilities, but they do however very strongly affect the way this issue is seen to be unfolding.

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Arrow from Tsitsutl Peak Glacier, Western B.C.

400 year old arrow or dart from Tsitsutl glacier, B.C. Source: Keddie and Nelson: 2005.

In 1924, a land surveyor found an arrow at an elevation of 2,100 metres near Tsitsutl Peak in west-central British Columbia (map).  The arrow made its way to the Royal BC Museum where it lay for over 80 years, until a timely inquiry and increased awareness of ice-patch archaeology stimulated a small research program.  This research, initiated by RBCM curator Grant Keddie and reported in the Canadian Journal of Archaeology (Keddie and Nelson 2005), establishes that the arrow is about 400 years old.

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Alaskan Ice Patches

Barbed bone or antler point with copper tip from Alaskan Ice Patch. Source: Dixon, NPS

All over  Northwestern North America, from Colorado to the NWT, global climate change is rapidly melting glaciers, and their less mobile cousins, permanent patches of ice which accumulate and never completely melt.  Some finds from these ice patches have revealed exceptionally-preserved organic technology dating from recent times to more than 8,000 calendar years ago.  Additionally, of course, there is the remarkable story of Kwädąy Dän Ts’ìnchį, Long-Ago Person Found, a man who died on a glacier in the Tatsenshini area hundreds of years ago.  All of these would make good posts for the future!

For today, though, I found an article online (PDF) about the lesser known Alaskan ice patches, which have been researched primarily by E. James Dixon.  Continue reading

Major expansion at the Royal B.C. Museum?

Proposed changes to the RBCM: the clear white structure to the back left is the new curatorial tower & archives; to the right is a new entrance and multi-functional area. Source: Times-Colonist.

The Victoria Times-Colonist had a story Saturday that the Royal B.C. Museum is proposing a major expansion, in which theirs quare footage would more than double, from 379,000 to 895,000 square feet.  The curatorial tower and the low-rise archives building on the NW side of the block would be demolished, replaced by a new multi-function complex which would also form the entrance to the museum.  The collections and curatorial facilities, and the archives, would move to a new 14 story building to the south of the current museum.  The RBCM C.E.O, Pauline Rafferty (an archaeologist by training) notes that ““We are now at a crossroads.  We have outgrown our on-site storage facilities and significant artifacts are stored below sea level.”  The article estimates the cost will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars which is easy to believe. The Times-Colonist weighs in with a strong editorial of support, citing the collapse of the Cologne archives last year with irreparable damage to the history of that City.  So: no-brainer, right?

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