2020 certainly has been a year to remember. I am tremendously thankful that my family and I have remained in good health throughout the pandemic. On the work front, I am so glad we were able to pivot and salvage this year in the field, and at the same time I was given time to write.

Of great significance to me was the publication of my 414-page book on the 1975 and 1978 almost complete excavation of the Draper site entitled The Draper Site, an Ontario Woodland Tradition Frontier Coalescent Village in Southern Ontario, Canada: Look Back, Moving Forward. As I reflect on the excavations, I am amazed that at age 27 I was selected by Dr. James V. (Jim) Wright of what is now the Canadian Museum Civilization to be Project Director of this massive undertaking. In 1975, Peter Ramsden, a fellow graduate student from the Department of Anthropology, joined me as co-director, with the 1978 work directed by myself. However, what is truly amazing is that 42 years after the completion of the excavations in the fall of 1978 the Draper Site project remains the most noteworthy excavation of any Iroquoian site in Ontario, Quebec, and New York State.

It has been a sentimental journey and an enlightening process to review not only the field work, but the many reports, articles, publications, and graduate theses produced by a relatively large number of people over the last 42 years. Some of these individuals went on to significant careers in archaeology in Ontario and beyond. Others went on to careers in other areas. Regardless, I am sure that most, like myself, share fond memories of the field and laboratory work and the more than occasional weekend party.

In preparing this summary volume, I had the great privilege of meeting Doug Williams (Gidigaa Migizi), a Michi Saagig Nation Knowledge Keeper, and learning from him about his Nation’s Oral History. Even more incredible was that he agreed to write the first foreword to my book. Of equal importance was Dr. Joyce Wright’s agreement to write the second foreword. I would never have guessed in 1973 that Jim Wright’s young daughter would become a highly regarded scholar in Iroquoian studies in Ontario and write a second foreword to my book. It took some discussion to convince my publisher that two forewords were necessary even if this was not the norm editorially speaking. At the same time, she has a great appreciation for this work too, so we proceeded.

I also had the wonderful opportunity to work again with Sheri Andrunyk and her team, especially Kim Leitch, in the preparation of such a massive publication. It has been 22 years since the publication of my 4-volume study of 76 Iroquoian sites in the Crawford Lake area and I had forgotten the incredible amount of work to bring my work to publication. Thanks again Sheri and Kim.

With the completion of the Draper book, I can now turn my attention to other projects which had to be put on hold. 

I am pleased to report that I am currently working on a new popular book, number 4 in the Our Lands Speak series, on my company’s 2012 salvage excavation around and adjacent to the Frederick Eckardt Log House, the oldest standing house in the City of Markham. On this new project, I am joined by George Duncan, an Architectural Historian, recently retired as Heritage Planner for the City of Markham. George is writing the history of the Eckardt family, the unique architecture of this Log House, the steps over many years which lead to its preservation, and its current restoration within the Upper Unionville community, a project of TAAC Developments.

While there are challenging months ahead, we can only hope for a return to a more normal life even though it will be different than what we knew less than 12 months ago.

I look forward to more writing and presenting the results of my archaeological endeavours over more than 5 decades and anticipate that this satisfying work will sustain me for many years to come.

Wishing everyone all the best for the season.

Stay well, stay safe.

Bill Finlayson

William D. Finlayson, Ph.D., F.R.S.C.

Ontario’s Leading and Senior-Most Archaeologist and Author

Feature image by Дарья Яковлева from Pixabay 

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