July 2018 marks the beginning of my 54th year doing archaeology in Ontario. I have had an amazing career; and it is now time to reflect on my accomplishments and a handful of challenges facing Ontario archaeology. Highlights include:

  • Working in the field as a student of archaeology for Professors Ken Dawson, M.A., Norman Emerson, Ph.D., Bill Hurley, Ph.D., Albert Mohr, Ph.D., and Drs. Walter Kenyon, Ph.D., and Jim Wright, Ph.D.;
  • Having Drs. Bill Taylor, Ph.D., Jim Wright, Ph.D., and Stuart Struever, Ph.D., as inspiring and talented mentors;
  • Sharing the student experience at University of Toronto with Father Bill Russell, Allen Tyyska, Peter Ramsden, Dean Knight, Gerald Kukan, Paul Carignan, and Francis Stewart;
  • Participating in underwater archaeological projects in two Northern Ontario locations;
  • Undertaking original field research for my Ph.D. dissertation which included the re-introduction of the use of power equipment to explore plough-disturbed Middle Woodland sites on the Bruce Peninsula;
  • Directing the almost total excavation of the Draper site, a Late Woodland village at the Pickering Airport which remains the most significant excavation of such a site in southern Ontario 40 years later;
  • Directing the archaeological surveys of 13,500 New Toronto International Airport lands and the test excavations of several Late Woodland villages;
  • Directing the test excavation of the Spang site, a Late Woodland village north of Draper, with crews of Huron-Wendat students from Wendake, P.Q.
  • Directing the completion of the salvage excavation and reporting of the White site, a Late Woodland hamlet located southwest of Draper;
  • Signing a three-year contract, without a university salary, to revitalize Wilfrid Jury’s Museum of Indian Archaeology and Pioneer Life at The University of Western Ontario;
  • Spearheading the funding and construction of the 1,400 square meter Lawson-Jury Building, the new home of the museum beside the Lawson Prehistoric Indian Village in northwest London;
  • Directing the reconstruction of the Lawson Prehistoric Indian Village, a heritage attraction beside the museum;
  • Created the Museum of Indian Archaeology as, what was, one of the finest archaeological research facilities in Canada;
  • Working with Col. Tom Lawson to create an endowment of more than $1,000,000 to operate the museum;
  • Creating, and holding for 15 years, the Lawson Chair of Canadian Archaeology, an unfunded honorary position of the Museum and the Department of Anthropology at Western;
  • Getting to know Wilfrid Jury and his wife Elsie; Wilfrid being one of the best field archaeologists Ontario has ever had;
  • Being instrumental in the formation of the Wilfrid Jury Fund, a $400,000 bequest to The University of Western Ontario to create an endowment fund for the museum to undertake field work in archaeology in western Ontario beginning in the late 1990s;
  • Securing the backing of the Wilfrid Jury Fund to support my investigations in the Crawford Lake area from the late 1990s to 2005;
  • Directing the complete excavation of the Keffer site, a Late Woodland village in Vaughan, another of the most noteworthy excavations of such a site in southcentral Ontario;
  • Saving Fanshawe Pioneer Village, a living history museum in London from closure and creating  a plan for its future growth and beginning the implementation of that plan;
  • Conducting the most significant program of research of the Late Woodland occupation of any region in southern Ontario (the Crawford Lake area) from 1973 to 2005 and publishing a 4-volume, 1700-page study on the 76 sites investigated;
  • Initiating detailed excavations at the Rife site, an undisturbed Middleport village, which was purchased by the museum, but subsequently sold immediately following my early retirement.
  • Proudly elected as a Specially Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002 for my innovation in Ontario Archaeology;
  • Being an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University since 2001;
  • Choosing to take early retirement in 2001, albeit due to some unfortunate circumstances, which provided me with a unique opportunity to broaden my horizons in Ontario archaeology even further with the test excavation of three Hudson’s Bay Posts in northeastern Ontario and the salvage excavations more than 50 Euro-Canadian farmsteads, an Algonkian campsite, and Patterson Village, a 19th century company town in southcentral Ontario. These projects were undertaken through my company This Land Archaeology Inc.

These milestones, integrated with my personal journey, and behind-the-scene stories will be the focus of future blogs.

Watch for my next blog the week of June 27th.

Thanks kindly for your ongoing interest. In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to connecting with more of you here, as well as on social media Facebook and LinkedIn, and at my scheduled readings and presentations.

Kindest regards,

Bill Finlayson

William D. Finlayson, Midland, Ontario

Ontario’s Leading and Senior-Most Archaeologist and Author