Major archaeological find unearthed in Kitchener
Published Friday, October 22, 2010 5:15PM EDT
An aboriginal village, including about ten longhouses and a number of other artifacts, has been found along Strasburg Creek in Kitchener.
The site of the First Nations settlement spans the space of two soccer fields at the south end of the Huron Natural Area.
Dave Schmitt, an environmental manager with the City of Kitchener, says it was discovered when planning began to expand the area's trail system.
"Once we discovered the archaeological site, we realized its significance and that we had to step back and look at things," he says, "and that's when we started working with the Ministry of Culture and also Six Nations to come up with a workable solution."
Archaeologist Paul Racher says the village itself is about 500 years old, and villages are fairly rare as far as archaeological finds go.
He says it's the most significant site he has encountered in 24 years of doing archaeology.
The remains of about ten longhouses were found, along with pottery, bone tools, stone tools, arrowheads and a wide variety of other artifacts.
Racher adds, "We have artifacts going back as far as 9,000 years, showing that this area was particularly attractive to settlement, going back almost as far as there is human settlement in this area."
The village is believed to have been used numerous times by the earlier ancestors of the Neutral Nation.
While there initially weren't plans to put at trail in the area, Schmitt says they recognized the opportunity for stewardship and education.
"So we've come up with a workable solution where we can provide long term protection of the site, but also provide a place where the community can come and learn."
However, not all of the thousands of artifacts unearthed will be put on display. Archaeologists have removed those with spiritual value, out of respect for aboriginal traditions. They are being held under the guidance of Six Nations until they find a permanent home.
Gerrard Sagassige is a spiritual/cultural advisor to aboriginal groups in Waterloo Region, and he's excited about what this discovery will teach them.
"The story of the unknown, yet another chapter surfaces for us to learn, to remember the richness of our ancestors."
The historic site is protected under the Heritage Act, and will also be protect under a city by-law.
The trail opens next week, but those wishing to explore the site are being warned against tampering or digging at the site, which could lead to a fine of up to $1 million.