Tag Archives: Public Archaeology

ASBC Nanaimo: In Trouble?

ASBC Nanaimo Members in the Field, 2011: Photo: Colleen Parsley, Source: ASBC Nanaimo.

I posted this as a comment a few days ago, but decided it was worth a post on its own: there is a worrisome news snippet in the Nanaimo paper concerning the Archaeological Society of BC, Nanaimo Chapter. (At least, I infer this is the society in question!).

The full text indicates there will be a public meeting on Monday November 7th at Vancouver Island University which suggests the Nanaimo organization is in tough times:

7 p.m. The Archaeological Society is on the brink of collapse. If you feel the archaeology of Nanaimo and area has significant value, please come share your ideas at Bldg 356 Room 109 on the VIU campus. Continue reading

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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Glenrose Cannery Under Threat?

Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculpture from Glenrose and St Mungo Cannery sites. Source: Delta heritage passport

The Glenrose Cannery site, which lies on the Fraser River near the Alex Fraser bridge, is one of the mose significant archaeological sites in BC.  The human figure on the left, above, dates to the ‘St Mungo” phase, putting it at between 3500 and 5000 years old.  It might be the oldest known representation of a human being in British Columbia – well, to my knowledge, it is.  Yet, you can already see elements of the formline art appearing – look at the eyebrows, for example.  More importantly, look at the beard.  Look at the hair, pulled into a bun.  This is a portrait of an individual.  The artifact, which is probably a small handle for a chisel, is a masterpiece of Canadian art. The site in which it was found shows continuous occupation from the present to about 9,000 years ago and spans up to eight metres of vertical deposits.

So it is disturbing to think that Glenrose might be further affected by development, in this case, road building associated with the “Gateway Project”, a transportation infrastructure megathrust to get stuff to and from the Ports of Vancouver faster. There is a short article in The Province yesterday (archive) in which UBC Professor Emeritus RG Matson, one of the key figures in BC Archaeology, visits the site.   We can’t preserve everything from the past, clearly, or all cultures at all times would have been glued to the footprints of their forebears.  But a site of such demonstrated significance as Glenrose should probably be completely off limits.

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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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Two upcoming events in Vancouver and Victoria


1936 Field Trip by the Vancouver Natural History Society to Musqueam. Source: Vancouver Public Library. VPL Accession Number: 19483

In Vancouver this Sunday, September 19 at 1.00 there is a guided walk of the Ancient Salmon Stream and Musqueam Village, starting at Jericho Beach (details here) with Victor Guerin, “a cultural/linguistic consultant and historian, a member of the Musqueam First Nation and a speaker of the Musqueam dialect of the Central Coast Salish language Halkomelem. He has been learning about his people’s culture and history his entire life, including some 16 years of consultation and documentation with family elders and 4 years formal training in the Musqueam language with linguistic analysts at UBC.”

This talk/walk is one in a series from the False Creek Watershed Society, most of which look like they hold promise for an interesting conversation between historical ecology, traditional knowledge, and landscape development.  It would be good to see connections built or strengthened between restoration groups and archaeologists, who share many of the same values.  You can see the other talks and walks they sponsor here – two of them are actually today, Saturday September 18th.  OK, go to those as well!

The other upcoming event is the  Archaeology Society of B.C. monthly public lecture in Victoria, which is on Tuesday 21 September.  This month’s speaker is Grant Keddie from the Royal B.C. Museum.

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Tongass Timeline

Detail of diorama of Paleomarine Period, Southeast Alaska. Source: Tongass NF

The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska has a lot of interesting stuff online.  I’ve just found they have a cool set of dioramas illustrating different time periods from the last 10,000 years of human history (scroll to the bottom of this page).  These start with the palaeomarine period, about 10,000 years, a section of which is seen above.  Some of it is conjectural of course and I am not going to go to the wall defending its veracity, but I do appreciate the National Forest making an effort to present the past in an accessible way.

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The Cup is So Mine

Take that, Sami Salo.

Well I am going into the field on Sunday so this blog will be taking a break soon.  Before that happens I might as well strut and prance around a bit and let my eleventeen readers know that (apparently) this blog was awarded the  Canadian Archaeological Association‘s annual award for Public Communication (Professional/Institutional Division):

Since 1985, the Canadian Archaeological Association (CAA) has presented annual awards to acknowledge outstanding contributions in communication that further insight and appreciation of Canadian Archaeology. These awards recognise contributions by journalists, film producers, professional archaeologists and institutions and are adjudicated by a committee composed of a regional representation of CAA members.

I say “apparently” because I haven’t heard from them yet (unless they naively left a voice-mail:  I check that once a year, whether anyone has left a message or not) but several people have told me it was announced at the recent annual conference in Calgary.  So I’ll risk a Dewey beats Truman moment – it might be the only one I get!

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