Thanks for joining me again. In my last blog we discussed the box privies associated with the houses at Patterson Village, and today we examine the single box privy found northeast of the boarding house.

This specific box privy was similar in size to the other box privies explored at Patterson Village. It measured 1.8 m long by 1.2 m wide and extended .045 m deep into the subsoil, resulting in a total volume less than one cubic meter.

Small, yet remarkable, this privy uncovered an amazing 11,926 artifacts! You can imagine our excitement at this find. This was more artifacts than we often find on a dig of a 19th century farmstead in other parts of southcentral Ontario, an excavation of which can last two or three weeks.

Of particular note was the recovery of fifty complete glass bottles. From liquor bottles, to medicinal bottles, and even inkwells. We also encountered three pie plates, two serving bowls, two plates, and a spittoon. Enough for a small dinner party! Also present were some home décor items such as two porcelain figurines; one a man, the other a woman, and a small rectangular, porcelain object of unknown function. Additional items included two fully intact pressed glass bowls, a red glass egg cup, three earthenware crocks, two combs, and a lice comb. Again, we were thrilled at what we brought to the surface.

Comparable to other privies we excavated, there were 6,788 fragments of chimney glass found buried, indicating that even in that part of the village where there were few children, these “sharps” were disposed of where they would not be a danger to anyone.

Given the large number of complete items in this privy, I believe that the contents were deposited there as part of the process of shutting down the boarding house after the Patterson & Bro. manufactory closed and eventually moved to Woodstock. In this scenario, the box privy was simply a hole that needed to be filled in, and these artifacts were placed in the hole to help fill it.

As an archaeologist, I can truly say that this was a once-in-a-lifetime find although, as we will reveal in a future blog, more amazing artifacts were also found in a pit privy at the Queensville Doane site. Be sure to follow along to find out more. We’ll also soon be sharing a sneak-peak of the newest full colour book in Our Lands Speak series, The Archaeology of Five Queensville Farmsteads – A 19th Century Crossroads Community in the Township of East Gwillimbury, Ontario. Stay tuned.

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Kindest regards,


Bill Finlayson


William D. Finlayson, Midland, Ontario

Ontario’s Leading and Senior-Most Archaeologist and Author