Rideau Valley Archaeological Society completes first season

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by Michael Whittaker

The Rideau Valley Archaeological Society (RVAS) has concluded the organization’s first calendar year. Since the founding meeting in February, 2018, the executive was elected, bylaws and a constitution drafted, and monthly meetings held to inform and educate members and the public.

The public monthly meetings at Merrickville’s Goose and Gridiron, held the second Sundays, featured: Fred Richardson on the general rules of archaeology and the archaeologists tool kit; an investigative walk on the 1845 Morrison farm on Bolton Road led by Michael Whittaker; Brian Reid discussed his summer dig experience at the Colony of Avalon (ca. 1621) site in Newfoundland; NCC archaeologist Ian Bagley gave an overview of First Nation archaeology in the Ottawa Valley; New York State consulting archaeologist Tim Abel presented on 16th-century St. Lawrence Iroquoians south of the St. Lawrence River; and Michael Whittaker discussed his volunteer experience at Owlville Pine South in Canastota, NY, a Crowfield Paleoindian site dating back 12,000 years.

What appears to be a First Nation wayfinding tree was located by Brian Reid in the Merrick Estates area. Direction trees were shaped by First Nations as guides along trails and portages. More investigation is required.

Goals for the 2019 season include: developing a database of pre-contact and historic sites, along with middens on members’ country properties; getting the RVAS Web page online; and encouraging new members to join for the $20 fee. To date, members have been offered summer opportunities to dig in Quebec and New York. Other possible digs are anticipated.

The first speaker of the New Year, on Sunday, February 10, at 12:30 PM at the Goose and Gridiron, will be Geoff McVey Manager of the Limerick Forest. Mr. McVey will discuss the establishment of the Limerick Forest in 1940 on abandoned land. The soil in the area homesteaded by Irish immigrants in the 1840s proved too poor for sustainable agriculture. In May, RVAS members will walk portions of Limerick Forest to identify farmsteads and pre-contact sites.

The Rideau Valley Archaeological Society maintains a Facebook page, which shares a range of archaeological news. The page can be used to message the Society.

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