On May 16th fifteen resolute Wilfrid Laurier undergraduate students, three staunch instructional assistants, and one plucky instructor embarked on their long awaited archaeological field research trip to Tay Point. Tay Point, in Penetaguishene, Ontario contains the archaeological remains of two Huron-Wendat village sites, Ahatsistari and Chew, candidates for the historically referenced villages Carhagouha and Quieunonascaran. Both villages were described in the early 17th century based on eyewitness accounts by Samuel de Champlain and Recollect missionary, Gabriel Sagard.

Field work at Ahatsistari (BeGx-76) began when students opened ten units in the hopes of locating the elusive triple palisade thought to bound the east side of the village. Students recovered a variety of pipe bowl fragments, glass trade beads and pottery but the palisade remained hidden. During the latter half of the five week long excavation, students moved to the west side of the tract in pursuance of the mysterious palisade, and while evidence for a triple palisade has yet to be discovered, the students were excited to find themselves uncovering interesting features (two large support posts) indicative of being inside a longhouse.

Senior students of the 2016 Tay Point field school undertook a special project; a test of the utility of metal detectors for recording the spatial distribution of detected metal objects on historic period Iroquoian village sites. Detected subsurface objects were flagged, each location ground-truthed, and all material remains recovered tagged and bagged. Locations of all detected objects were recorded using a total station and the distribution of detected objects mapped. This exercise proved particularly fruitful, with both small and large clusters of detected iron objects found suggestive of the locations of longhouse floors.

What better way to experience life as it was during the early 17th century in Ontario than to visit the iconic site of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. Students took a break from their trowelling and sifting of sand at Ahatsistari to visit Sainte-Marie and become immersed in period culture. Our daylong visit included a movie, a guided tour through the reconstructed community, and plenty of time to view the new exhibits in the on-site museum. Students were also treated to a trip to the well-known Thompson-Walker site near Cold Water, Ontario where they were hosted by Ontario Heritage Trust Archaeologist, Dena Doroszenko and Dr. Alicia Hawkins of Laurentian University. The Thompson-Walker site also contains the remains of a Huron-Wendat village dating to A.D. 1625-35, and some archaeologists have suggested that it is the site of French Jesuit Mission, St. Joachim.

While our field excursion was exhilarating, all good things must come to an end. However, that doesn’t mean the excitement is over just yet! Over the next several months students will be cataloguing and analyzing the artifacts and data recovered from the field in R128. The senior students of AR452 are also currently working on a presentation to be delivered at the Ontario Archaeological Society’s annual symposium in Waterloo in early November.

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