Latest Posts from William D. Finlayson
When This Land Archaeology Inc.’s crew first approached the house, it seemed typical of early 20th century brick farmhouses in southern Ontario. However, this home had a carved stone inlay indicating its name, Sprucedale, and the year it was built, 1915.
Reflecting on the dozens of 19th century homesteads and farmsteads we excavated prior to their development, I worked hard to educate our clients about the need to preserve the heritage represented in the sites we dug. . . Now, fully embracing retirement, I eagerly look forward to writing more and adding to the popular series and occasional papers of Our Lands Speak series.
The writing of The Archaeology, History, and Architecture of the Philip Eckardt Log House: The Oldest House in the City of Markham, Ontario, Canada, was a joint effort by Bill Finlayson and the recently retired architectural planner from the City of Markham, George Duncan. This collaboration has provided a deeper appreciation of the occupation of the log house, its occupants, the alterations to it over the past two hundred plus years, and its ultimate conservation.
Welcome back to our continuing blog series on Crawford Lake. In an earlier post I noted that, while I was a graduate student based at Erindale College, U. of T., I was asked by Professor Roger Byrne to help locate an archaeological site he predicted would be found...
Our excavations at the Brown site were quite different from those at the Milton site. We began our excavations at the top of a bank, hoping to unearth a palisade surrounding the settlement. We did locate a row of post moulds which may in fact represent part of the palisades surrounding the village. Of much greater significance though, we discovered a midden (garbage dump) just over the hill along the northern edge of the site. This midden had been covered by more than half a metre of soil eroded from the farm field above. As a result, it had never been disturbed . . . and we recovered some highly sought-after items.
Let’s look back at other investigations I embarked on during my time as a graduate student in Anthropology at the University of Toronto. In 1969 Professor Mohr hired me to carry out an archaeological survey to find sites suitable for an archaeological field school he was to teach. The excavations were designed to introduce second-year Anthropology students to the basics of archaeological field work. As it turned out it also provided me with a broader knowledge of field methods, due to Professor Mohr’s extensive experience in archaeology in California, the America Southwest, South Korea, and Japan.
There is a growing trend for those who are writing about Ontario archaeology to increasingly rely on the secondary literature as the main source of information about the topic they are addressing. One of the negative aspects of this is that incorrect data are repeated over and over, there being no apparent understanding that certain data presented as fact are actually false. It is a challenge to comprehend how and why such errors are made. Regardless, it’s something that needs addressing. Let’s dig deeper…
Welcome back to Our Lands Speak blog. My wishes for us all, a promising and healthy new year. That said, these times we’re living in still feel full of upheaval and uncertainty. More now than ever it is important to remind ourselves of what matters most to us, our families, and our livelihoods. Then we must stay the course of what is true and worthy of our attention. With this in mind, we continue the conversation we began in November on some of the less than noble practices affecting archaeology today.
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 . . . 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.
The almost complete excavation of the Draper site represents one of the first and certainly the largest of a Late Woodland village in south-central Ontario investigated on a salvage archaeology basis. I saw our work at Draper as an opportunity to have Ivan Kocsis, a very talented artist in Hamilton, create an artist’s conception of what the Draper site might have looked like after expanding five times to become a very large village of almost 2,000 people. This illustration has generally been very well received and has been used, with permission and proper acknowledgement, in a relatively large number of textbooks on archaeology.