Before Ontario: Archaeology and the Province's First Peoples - Wednesday April 2nd

March 19, 2014 | Richard

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Connect with working historians and discover the surpising ways in which the past shapes the present.

Join us Wednesday April 2nd for a panel of distinguished researchers to explore the latest archaeological insights into the lives of Indigenous people in Southern Ontario prior to contact with Europeans (event details are listed below). At the centre of this discussion will be the book launch of the very recently- released work Before Ontario : the archaeology of a province. (ebook version is here)

Before Ontario there was ice. As the last Ice Age came to an end, land began to emerge from the melting glaciers. With time, plants and animals moved into the new landscape and people followed. For almost 15,000 years, the land that is now Ontario has provided a home for their descendants: hundreds of generations of First Peoples.

The photograph above, and the two photos below, are copyright of Archaeological Services Inc.

With contributions from the province's leading archaeologists (see below), Before Ontario provides both an outline of Ontario's ancient past and an easy-to-understand explanation of how archaeology works.

The authors show how archaeologists are able to study items as diverse as fish bones, flakes of stone, and stains in the soil to reconstruct the events and places of a distant past - fishing parties, long-distance trade, and houses built to withstand frigid winters.


Presenting new insights into archaeology’s purpose and practice, Before Ontario bridges the gap between the modern world and a past that can seem distant and unfamiliar, but is not beyond our reach.



The Panelists


Neal Ferris, Ph.D.

University of Western Ontario/ Museum of Ontario Archaeology

FerrisNeal Ferris specializes in the archaeology of the Great Lakes region, from the Late Woodland period through interactions among communities of Aboriginal Nations and European colonizers.  Before arriving at Western, he worked for Ontario's Ministry of Culture for two decades; as a result, he brings a unique perspective on the challenges and value of preserving and interpreting archaeological heritage.


Susan M. Jamieson, Ph.D.

Trent University

JamiesonSusan Jamieson recently retired after a long career as an archaeologist at Trent.  Her research touches on social aspects of leadership in Aboriginal societies, the pitfalls of studying ethnic identity in the past, and relationships between First Nations and archaeology today. 



Anne Keenleyside, Ph.D.

Trent University

KeenlBiological anthropologist Anne Keenleyside carries out research on the health, disease, and diet of past peoples through the study of skeletal remains.  In addition to working in Ontario, she has brought her skills to archaeological projects in Bulgaria, Romania, Tunisia, Siberia, and the Canadian Arctic.


Marit K. Munson, Ph.D.

Trent University

MunsonArchaeologist Marit Munson is a faculty member at Trent who specialises in ancient art from New Mexico and other parts of the US Southwest.  A former director of the Trent University Archaeological Research Centre, Marit collaborated with Susan Jamieson to edit the book Before Ontario, which grew in part out of her desire to learn more about the archaeology of her new home province.


Kris Nahrgang

Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation

NahrKris Nahrgang, chief of the Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation, is an award-winning sculptor who became interested in archaeology when he found a 1,400 year old Native pot while scuba diving in cottage country.  He has since studied archaeology at Trent, becoming a knowledgeable and vocal critic of the effect that archaeology can have on First Nations communities and an advocate for changing provincial laws related to the protection of archaeological sites.


Andrew Stewart, Ph.D.

Strata Consulting

AndrewTrained in geography and anthropology, Andrew Stewart is a geoarchaeologist who studies the ancient landscapes of the Great Lakes area, especially around the end of the last Ice Age.  He has also worked in the Canadian Arctic, as well as in Southern Ontario.


Ronald F. Williamson, Ph.D.

Archaeological Services Inc.

WilliamRonald F. Williamson, founder and managing partner of Toronto-based cultural resource management firm Archaeological Services Inc., has published extensively on the pre-contact and colonial history of the Great Lakes Region. He is an adjunct professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Toronto and Western University.  


ShawnThe panel will be moderated by Shawn Micallef, a noted journalist and Toronto Public Library's Writer-in-Residence in the Fall of 2013.






Before Ontario: Archaeology and the Province's First Peoples


A Panel Discussion




Is brought to you by Heritage Toronto, an organization that works to celebrate, interpret, and educate on our collective heritage:


Wednesday April 2, 2014
6:30 p.m.

Atrium - 1st Floor
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge Street
Toronto (At Yonge and Bloor)

This is a free event. All are Welcome.

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