Northeast Town hopes to develop archaeological dig at Sheguiandah as learning site

Artifacts found date continuous habitation of area back 10,000 years

SHEGUIANDAH—The Northeast Town has received over $70,000 in funding to develop the archaeological site in Sheguiandah.

“We are excited to have secured funding from two sources,” said Northeast Town Economic Development Officer Kristin Luoma.

The funding includes a grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) for $46,500 and Canadian Heritage’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund for $31,000. The remainder of the funding will come from the Northeast Town, but is conditional on the approval of the 2017 municipal budget.

Councillor Marcel Gauthier commended staff on their “good work applying for grants,” when the funding was announced at the last council meeting.

According to the project overview, the funding will go towards site development including trail development, fencing signs and parking lot work; interpretation; interpretive storyboard; web-based interpretation and training material; complementary museum displays; and marketing and promotions such as Highway 6 signage.

The Northeast Town has been in discussions with Sheguiandah First Nation, with the hope of developing a partnership.

“Myself and council took a tour of the site with representatives from the Northeast Town,” Sheguiandah Chief Andrew Aguonie told The Expositor. “There was some excitement about the possibilities, as well as some concerns from elders. Anything that enhances Sheguiandah is good for everyone, but we need to discuss it further as a council.”

Chief Aguonie said he will be meeting with Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin and CAO Dave Williamson to discuss the trail, site and project further, before bringing the concept to band council for discussion at the Monday, February 13 council meeting.

“We are hoping that Sheguiandah First Nation will want to get involved with the project and we would be happy to work with them to grow tourism in the area,” said Mayor MacNevin.

Past Howland (prior to amalgamation) and past Northeast Town Mayor Ken Ferguson said that the development of the site has been a long time in the making.

“It has been of interest in Sheguiandah for many years,” said Mr. Ferguson. “We worked hard to develop it for quite a few years. It is a very interesting site. I remember I was a kid when the first dig was undertaken, and the display of artifacts after was quite extensive—it was fascinating. It is good the site is being developed to allow people to learn about the history of the area.”

The project overview explains that the site was initially discovered by Dr. Thomas Lee of the National Museum of Canada in 1954. The quartzite artifacts discovered represent three major significant time periods in history including paleoindian, archaic and middle woodland. The site has an abundance of quartzite outcrops, from which early aboriginal people made tools and weapons such as scrapers, knives and arrowheads.” The artifacts discovered date the use of he site back at least 10,000 years. In effect, the Sheguiandah area has seen continuous habitation for that period of time.

“With assistance from Dr. Patrick Julig, who led the excavation of the Sheguiandah site in the 1990s and had numerous subsequent publications pertaining to the site, the Northeast Town hopes to develop this National Heritage Site in a respectful manner that showcases the unique history and culture of our area while at the same time preserving the integrity of the site,” the project overview continues.

The project will create three seasonal positions in addition to having a significant economic impact on the area. For the low initial project cost of $130,000, we estimate an economic impact in excess of $600,000 in the first two years,” the overview notes.