Thoughts on Receiving the Margaret and James F. Pendergast Award For Avocational Archaeology (en anglais seulement)

On Wednesday October 17, 2001, at the monthly meeting of the Toronto Chapter of The Ontario Archaeological Society, I was presented with the Margaret and James F. Pendergast Award for Avocational Archaeology by Dr. Mima Kapches, representing the Canadian Archaeological Association. I wish to thank the Canadian Archaeological Association for the recognition, Dr. Kapches for being a gracious hostess, the then-anonymous nominator, and the Pendergast family for making this Award possible. The following is distilled from the remarks I made at the time.

Looking back, it was probably while visiting Frank Ridley in 1965 that I first became aware of the name and work of Jim Pendergast. Frank showed me an article by Jim that he was reading. "Who is he ?" I asked, pleased that another avocational had appeared on the archaeological scene. "He is in the army", Frank replied, "must be in the artillery, his artifact lists look like artillery trajectory tables". I have never forgotten such an odd description of an artifact list.

In the course of time my activities within The Ontario Archaeological Society (OAS) and in the Petun homeland near Collingwood brought me to the attention of Dr. Norman Emerson at the University of Toronto. Eventually we became friends enough that he invited me to his Saturday pottery labs and to visit his home. In the early 1970s we began to form an idea that Norman would sponsor me for a Canada Council grant to record everything I could about the Petun. During one of my visits to the Emerson home I found Norman already engaged with a man I had not met before. To my surprise it was Jim Pendergast. What the two of them were cooking up astounded me and far transcended the idea of a grant to help me record the Petun. Jim was a serving army officer on leave, about to return to his NATO posting in Europe on what I believe was to be his last army tour before retiring. He was to take with him to Holland the rimsherds from the National Museum that William J. Wintemberg had excavated from the Roebuck site, and there to analyze them in accordance with a system devised by Norman. My reaction to this was mixed. I probably and momentarily wondered what kind of army allows the transportation of archaeological artifacts as military baggage and their analysis on army time. But more immediately and importantly I felt the realization that I stood on the threshold of a new vision of cooperation within Ontario archaeology. Here was a National Museum collection being analyzed using a University of Toronto protocol (and for publication in the Mercury series) utilising the expertise and ability of an avocational, Jim Pendergast. What was happening before my eyes as I saw it was The Way It Should Be, but the key was not simply that Jim Pendergast, with his unique St. Lawrence Iroquois specialisation, was the obvious man for the job, there was more to it than that. Jim was not only mercifully free of the concept that professionals and avocationals were two inherently opposed incompatible camps, but in his presence such antagonisms dissolved and the only issue became the job at hand. Far from being a lonely not-entirely-accepted avocational on the fringe, he was already a wholly-accepted competent scholar at the centre of the web. How he had accomplished this I am still not sure. If he, as we all do, judged the scholarship of others, he did not allow his conclusions to degenerate into antagonisms. He closed no doors of communication to any one. As I came to know him better I found no limit to his range of tolerance.

As I had listened to the Emerson-Pendergast plan for Roebuck rimsherds,so Jim listened to the Emerson plan for my recording Petun sites. Then we went our separate ways, with no plan for future contact. It was Jim who took the initiative. His publications started turning up at my address, followed by invitations for the weekend once he was established at Merrickville in civilian life. His connection with the National Museum led to his being our guide on a tour of the old Victoria Memorial building on an OAS bus trip. Others trips followed in which Jim was involved, to the Roebuck and other area sites, and to his excavations at the Maynard McKeown site. It was satisfying that one of my last projects for the OAS was in connection with presenting Jim the J. Norman Emerson Silver Medal. This was more than just a gesture, as it reincorporated Norman Emerson's presence into what had began as a three-cornered relationship.

The possibility that the Petun were at least partly an aftermath of the St. Lawrence Iroquois dispersal brought our separate research interests together and resulted in phone calls, exchanges and more invitations over the years. As we grew closer the dedications he added to the publications he sent grew less formal and extended to include my wife Ella, whose name he wrote correctly even though on the phone he always called her Ellie. At one time we worked together to compile a complete list of his writings, which enabled me to produce a list at short notice as part of his obituary in Arch Notes.

Jim and I shared not only that we were avocationals specialising in a geographical region and Period, but we (and his wife Margaret too) had another bond of having experienced military service, although very different as to time, place and circumstances. Jim's archaeological communications to me for a while included a commentary on the use of Canadian soldiers during the Oka crisis. We commiserated with each other when Canadian army equipment returning from action was stranded on a rented ship. Jim was excited when I told him that in August 2000 we (Ella and I) intended to attend a reunion in Germany where I had served fifty years previously. Two days before we left yet another publication arrived in the mail, addressed to both of us, and with the usual jocular comment. The article appropriately pertained to our fairly recent extended mutual and overlapping interest in the Ottawa valley Algonquins. At the time I could only leave it for immediate attention on my return to Canada. When I did return it was to learn that during our absence Jim had passed on, and was already buried. I still grapple with the sense of loss of a friend, colleague, co-worker, enthusiast, a large part of my life.

Margaret must also be mentioned. She served in the Canadian Navy and later as Jim's ever-supportive wife, a quiet hostess who cared for Jim's quest for learning and the guests it drew to their home. She and Ella bonded from the mutual experience of having husbands doing the same. It is sad but perhaps not surprising that she outlived Jim by but a short time.

Hugh Daechsel wrote in understatement that Jim's death left "a significant void in Ontario Archaeology". Jim produced an incredible amount of quality research, yet for myself there lingers the regret that his life was cut prematurely short. While we visited his home and his sites several times, he was never able to visit ours. The definitive statement that St. Lawrence-like materials on some Petun sites really are St. Lawrence materials - or not - as recognized by the man best able to make such a judgement, will not now come to be.

Contemplating Jim's many other accomplishments, and the various awards and recognition he received, the thought inevitably occurred that there should be an award in the name of Jim Pendergast. When I heard that indeed such an award, in the names of both Margaret and Jim, was being developed by their children (whom I never met) through the Canadian Archaeological Association, I was very happy. When I learned I was to be the first recipient, I was even more so. To the Pendergast family and the Canadian Archaeological Association I return my thanks for the honour given to my work. To Jim's memory I offer the intention to carry on in the pattern of which he approved and with him as my model, well aware that greater steps than mine have gone before to lead the way.

Charles Garrad
October 2001