Greetings, it has been more than six months since I have posted on this blog. By way of explanation, on May 25, after 18 years in the business, I made the decision to wrap up my archaeological consulting work through my company This Land Archeology Inc. The intervening months have focused on closing down consulting operations—laying off field staff in early August, saying goodbye to our two field archaeologists in late September, and working with Matt Muttart of Archaeological Consultants Canada who is acquiring selected assets of the company and targeting a closure of our office on November 26. After this date, my VP of Operations Janine Stroud, Graphics Co-Ordinator Leslie Town, and myself will work from our home offices completing revisions to reports requested by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries (MHSTCI), as per our usual responsibilities for one final time. As well, we will continue to search for homes for the artifacts and supporting documentation we have been holding in trust for the People of Ontario through This Land Archaeology Inc.
Yet amidst all this, with the continued encouragement and support of Sheri Andrunyk and her dedicated team at I C Publishing, we were able to undertake the necessary tasks to publish Volume 4 in the popular publications in Our Lands Speaks series. This volume written last winter and entitled 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 me and George Duncan, the recently retired architectural planner from the City of Markham. Lorne Smith, the Official Historian of the City of Markham has generously provided the foreword.
In 2012, my company conducted the excavations around this heritage building which had been originally constructed very early in the 19th century. This dig was requested by and completed for TACC Developments and their partners Arista Homes, Fieldgate Developments, Paradise Developments, and Starlane Homes. George Duncan and Malcolm Horne of the MHSTCI assisted in planning the strategy for the excavations.
In this volume, I detail the excavations around the standing log house and the area to the south. Among our discoveries were the presence of two kitchen wings attached to one side of the log house and the existence of another house, perhaps that for a hired hand, located south of the log house. Our excavations produced more than 105,000 artifacts, primarily from the mid to late 19th century.
George Duncan elaborates on the history of the log house and in particular Philip Eckardt, one of the Berczy settlers who came to America in 1972 and ultimately settled in the Markham area. One of the intriguing aspects of the log house is that it appears to have originally been a two-storey structure which was altered to be a one-storey house in the mid-twentieth century. As part of its preservation, it has been restored to a two-storey structure attached to a modern house in the Upper Unionville Development.
The collaboration with George has provided a much greater 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.
In the words of my publisher, Sheri Andrunyk, “When you dig deep into the volumes of Our Lands Speak series, embrace the narratives, and study the incredible photos, you may find yourself imagining what it was like to live life in a different era. The extreme hardships many endured to pave a way for their families and communities and settle on new land are obvious, and yet in some contrast so is the appreciation for simpler times and who and what came before us.”
I invite you to check out this newest volume, The Archaeology, History, and Architecture of the Philip Eckardt Log House, here on my website and/or in the I C Bookstore. It will be on Amazon.ca soon too.
Thank you as always for your keen interest. As a fortunate steward and specialist of this work, it’s been one of my life’s goals to give back to the public the fascinating archaeological findings.
William D. Finlayson, Ph.D., F.R.S.C.
Ontario’s Leading and Senior-Most Archaeologist and Author
Feature image, figure 1: Archival photo of Eckardt Log House 1885 courtesy of the Markham Museum, scaled
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