Historic Period Archaeology in Saskatchewan - Papers in honour of Dr. Margaret Kennedy

Session Hosting Format: 
in-person session
Jeudi, mai 2, 2024 - 10:20am - 4:00pm
Michelangelo B
  • Kim Cloutier, Heritage Conservation Branch – Government of Saskatchewan
  • Denise Huynh, Department of Anthropology – University of Saskatchewan
Contact Email: 
Session Description (300 word max): 

European trade goods began appearing in Saskatchewan by the mid 1500s via Indigenous trade networks. By the mid 1700s European traders had established a permanent presence in the west, which is considered the start of the Historic Period in Saskatchewan. By the late 19th century, the human and natural landscape in Saskatchewan had changed dramatically. The near extinction of the bison by the 1870s and the subsequent treaties forever altered the lifestyles of Indigenous and Métis peoples. Government policies and land surveys changed the prairie landscape as settlers began taking up homesteads, with industrial development and urban development accompanying European-focused settlement.

Much of the early research into historic period archaeology in Saskatchewan focused on fur trade posts and notable military places or events such as North-West Mounted Police posts and the Northwest Resistance. Over the decades historic period archaeological research has expanded to include the stories of Indigenous and Métis peoples’ experiences during this period and their adaptation to the influx of missionaries, settlers and material goods, as well as the stories of the settlers of various backgrounds – Ukrainian, French, Russian, English, African American, Finnish, Mennonite, Doukhobor and others – who arrived to seek a new life and helped to shape the communities and urban centres in which they lived.

This session is dedicated to Dr. Margaret Kennedy who inspired a generation of archaeologists to learn about and research the changing prairie landscape and the historic period during her tenure in the Archaeology department at the University of Saskatchewan where she was on faculty for 25 years until her retirement in 2018. Many of her students have remained in the heritage sector and have found roles as consultants, academics, and regulators.

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM: The Value of Historical Archaeology Education and Training: Introduction to Dr. Margaret Kennedy
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Thanh Tam  Huynh - Stantec Consulting Ltd
  • Kim  Cloutier - Heritage Conservation Branch - Government of Saskatchewan
  • Denise Huynh - University of Saskatchewan

In her 25 years at the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Kennedy was responsible for training a generation of archaeologists.  Today, many of these archaeologists will come together to speak about the work they undertook at the University of Saskatchewan and/or their work done as regulators, professional archaeologists, avocational archaeologists, or heritage professionals; work that could not have happened without the training and guidance given by Dr. Kennedy.  Tam Huynh, the current president of the Saskatchewan Association of Professional Archaeologists, will introduce the session.  He will also provide some background on Dr. Kennedy, which will include teaching, field schools, and her professional and academic works. 


10:40 AM - 11:00 AM: Insects Unearthed: Archaeoentomological Insights from Fort Carlton Provincial Park (FfNp-1)
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Alyshia Reesor

Archaeoentomologists study insect remains in archaeological contexts to derive information about past environments, human behaviour, and cultural practices. Analyzing insects provides insights into hygiene, sanitation, health, funerary customs, and ecological conditions as human activities influence insect presence. Environments that inhibit the decomposition of organic materials allow for the preservation of insects, particularly those with chitinous exoskeletons like beetles. The 2021 excavation at Fort Carlton Provincial Park (FfNp-1) revealed well-preserved organic materials, including seeds, wood, birch bark objects, and leather, alongside portions of a floor highlighting the site’s potential for archaeoentomological research. The excavation of unit 32 in Block C in 2022 exposed additional sections of the preserved floor uncovered in 2021 and facilitated the collection of soil samples for subsequent analysis. The analysis of these samples resulted in the successful retrieval of insect remains. These remains, along with the discovery of delousing combs in the 2023 season, further attest to this site’s potential for detailed archaeoentomological research.

11:00 AM - 11:20 AM: What the Fort? An Overview of the 2021-2023 Field Seasons at Fort Carlton
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Sarah Pocha-Tait - University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Archaeological Society

Fort Carlton was a fur trade post which operated from 1810-1885. Its original location at the forks of the two Saskatchewan Rivers opened in 1795, but in 1810 it moved further southwest to a prime location along the North Saskatchewan River. This area holds the Cree name Pehonanik meaning “the waiting place”. The fort underwent five separate building phases during its time at this second location. Excavations in the 1960s and 70s by Ian Dyck and Anthony Ranere revealed the fourth and fifth building phases, which is where the reconstructed fort stands today at Fort Carlton Provincial Park. Further excavations ensued from 2021-2023 to the west of the reconstructed fort in search of the previous building phases and other features. The artifact assemblage currently sits at approximately 50,000, with about 80% consisting of faunal remains. This presentation will highlight some of the artifacts such as birch bark and bone tools. It will also touch on current thesis research being done with the ceramic assemblage through a Métis lens.

11:20 AM - 11:40 AM: Fishing during the Fur Trade at Fort Carlton, SK (FfNp-1)
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Alexis Hunter

Fort Carlton is a fur-trade site located approximately 100 km north of Saskatoon, SK on the southern bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Established in 1810, it operated until 1885 as a provision center, mail hub, and trading post owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). This site was excavated from 2021-2023 by the USask Department of Anthropology undergraduate field school and Saskatchewan Archaeological Society public volunteer programs. Analysis of faunal remains suggests that large artiodactyls were a major focus of subsistence activities undertaken at this location. However, remains of fish, birds, and other species were also recovered. The focus of this presentation is to discuss the role of fishing at this fort by using both zooarchaeological data and information available in the HBC journals. It will include information on quantities of fish remains recovered at the site, species present, their locations within the excavation units, and a summary of all fishing-related artifacts that were recovered. This data will be compared to the information about fishing mentioned in the historical records. Overall, this presentation will demonstrate a need in further research on roles of fishing at fur-trade era sites on the Canadian Plains.

11:40 AM - 12:00 PM: Old Trails, new directions: Relocation of historic trails to understand past settlement.
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Scott Hamilton - Lakehead University
  • Keegan Tremblay - Lakehead University

As part of research at Fort Ellice and the old Métis settlement of Ste Madeline, historic and modern maps have been used to identify elements of the cultural geography reflected in historic trail systems. This involves integration of modern cartography with Dominion Land Survey Township plans and other archival maps. While such historic information has long been available in various archives, it and other digital data has become available for free download. This has permitted integration with GIS to enable experimentation how best to extract information to further analysis.

01:20 PM - 01:40 PM: Tracking Down South Branch House II: An Archaeological Investigation Using Ground Penetrating Radar
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Mike Markowski - Atlheritage Services

In 1942, Arthur S. Morton visited and recorded the Hudson’s Bay Company’s (HBC) Carlton House II and the North West Company’s (NWC) South Branch House II (1805 to 1810).  No post journals exist for either post, a situation that makes the identification of this site rather difficult. 

A preliminary archaeological investigation of the assumed location of the trading posts was completed in 2018.  Based on the location and artifacts discovered, the site was formally recorded and provided with Borden number designation FeNm-208.

In 2022, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys were completed at FeNm-208.  Several features (i.e., building foundations, buried features) were identified along with portions of a well-defined stockade wall.  The GPR survey at FeNm-208 resulted in the collection of exceptional interpretive data.

A stockade wall has been identified along with several additional insights as to how the site area was used.  GPR data suggests various building stages, with buildings located outside of the stockade wall and overlapping with the stockade wall, which may suggest that these features are the remains of the original buildings (prior to the construction of the stockade wall), or most likely the re-use of the former trading post site area by early Métis settlers.  

01:40 PM - 02:00 PM: Clark's Crossing: A 19th Century Source of Fake News
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Kim Weinbender - Heritage Conservation Branch (Government of Saskatchewan)

Using the telegraph, it was possible to send information around the world within a matter of hours, instead of weeks or months. During the 1885 Riel Resistance, the telegraph station at Clark’s Crossing (located northwest of Saskatoon) was used by the media to send reports on the events of 1885. Public demand for information on their beloved Canadian troops resulted in a media reporting frenzy where accuracy was less important than having a best-selling headline. Fake news influenced political opinions and demands, which in turn impacted the military decisions. General Middleton was besieged for information by reporters, the public, and even the Prime Minister – all demanding justification of his actions. Clark's Crossing is an early Saskatchewan example of how false news caused political intervention in a military operation and exacerbated the vilification of the Metis and First Nation peoples. The media publications are a small sample of the diverse 1885 documents that exist for Clark’s Crossing. Dr. Kennedy, who conducted archaeological field school excavations at the site between 2002 to 2005, had to sift through the fake news, reconciling the historical record with the archaeological reality.

02:00 PM - 02:20 PM: Learning from Moose Hill Ranch: a case study of consulting archaeology at a homestead site
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Meg Porter - Stantec Consulting Ltd.

When consulting archaeologists undertake areal studies, it provides an opportunity to investigate land use in a way that we typically don’t see with linear projects. While working on a large areal project west of the City of Calgary, Stantec archaeologists have had the opportunity to investigate several Euro-Canadian settlement period sites in the area. In some cases, descendants of these people were still actively ranching, offering a unique perspective on the sites and their rural community. This presentation will highlight interviews, the historic sites found during the multi-year project, and results from those that required mitigative excavation. Specific attention will be given to the Moose Hill Ranch, a homestead site where 3D scanning was conducted in partnership with the University of Calgary.

02:20 PM - 02:40 PM: Lost in the Gold Mines: Uncovering the Company Town of Wadhope, Manitoba
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Kristian Sullivan - KGS Group
  • Graeme Revering - KGS Group

Manitoba’s Department of Environment and Climate oversees the Orphaned and Abandoned Site Rehabilitation Program, the purpose of which is to address health and safety concerns relating to inactive mines in the province. Many of these mines were in operation in the early 1900s, and the documentation this era of early mining history is a large component of this project. One such site is Central Mine, a gold mine located in Nopiming Provincial Park that operated between 1926-1937. Due to reliability of the ore being extracted from the mine shaft, a company town sprung up around it. At its peak operation, the company town of Wadhope contained 125 employees and their families including a general store, post office, pool room, cookhouse, barber shop, laundry, confectionary, butcher shop, recreation hall (which housed a one‐room school), several bunkhouses, and a three‐bed hospital. A preliminary archaeological investigation of Wadhope was conducted in 2023. This paper will discuss the documentary, archival, and archaeological evidence related to the town and explore its nature as an entity of the company. This paper will also discuss how Wadhope fits into the larger context of gold mining in the Bissett, Manitoba area in the early to mid-twentieth century.

02:40 PM - 03:00 PM: Athabasca Hydro: Early 20th Century Industrial Development in Saskatchewan's Far North.
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Riel Cloutier - SaskPower

The Wellington Power Station was built in the late 1930’s to provide power to the Cominco Box Mine located southwest of Uranium City, Saskatchewan.  For two years, dozens of workers lived and worked in remote work camps building the dam, earthworks, and power station. Given the remote and inaccessible nature of the camps, some camp features have remained undisturbed since the camps were abandoned in 1939. Combining archaeological investigations with archival research allows us to reconstruct a snapshot of daily life at these late Depression Era work camps.

03:20 PM - 03:40 PM: A History of Historic Period Archaeology in Saskatchewan: Perspectives from the Inventory
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Kim Cloutier - Heritage Conservation Branch, Government of Saskatchewan

From EfNo-1 to FaNo-19, over 2,300 historic period archaeological sites have been recorded in Saskatchewan during the last eight decades. Many of these sites can be further identified as Historic First Nations, Métis and Euro-Canadian and include a variety of interpretations such as trading or police posts, settlements, homesteads, cabins, campsites, industrial areas, and battlefields. Valuable insights and perspectives learned from the provincial inventory are presented regarding the recording of Saskatchewan’s historic period archaeological sites, in addition to how the management of these sites has changed over time.

03:40 PM - 04:00 PM: A Prairie Shipwreck - The Wreck of the S.S. City of Medicine Hat
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Kara Wolfe - Canada North Environmental Services

In 2016, Canada North Environmental Services’ (CanNorth) archaeologists were presented with a unique opportunity, the chance to excavate a shipwreck in the prairies. On June 7th, 1908, a steamboat, the S.S. City of Medicine Hat, hit the new Traffic Bridge in Saskatoon and sank. The bridge served the City of Saskatoon for over a century after the wreck, having been constructed for horse and buggy and pedestrians, its replacement was inevitable. It was recognized that the replacement of the iconic bridge would impact the unlikeliest archaeological site in the city.  The wreckage, which had been buried by both natural and anthropogenic processes, required innovative methodologies to effectively document the remains of the S.S. City of Medicine Hat which allowed CanNorth to help document and preserve a key fixture of the city’s history.