I have been working in the cultural heritage sector since 2008. I currently work as a permit-status archaeologist at Tree Time Services Inc. in Alberta, but also have excavation and research experience in Ontario, Manitoba, and Greece. I first gained experience in Alberta working as a field technician excavating at the Quarry of the Ancestors for Alberta Culture and Tourism. This experience deepened my appreciation for the province’s rich heritage and prompted me to pursue more work in Alberta.
Recently, I have also been able to pursue more research when I worked as part of a research team for Fort Edmonton Park, looking at First Nations History in the Edmonton area.
I have extensive experience researching, writing, and editing in an academic setting and for the private sector. As part of a research team hired by Fort Edmonton Park, we looked at archaeological, historic, and oral history sources in order to learn more about the Edmonton area in 1600-1850 AD. This was a collaborative project where we worked closely with the other stakeholders of the project including the Fort Edmonton Park staff, Treaty Six representatives and the designers.I have also authored, co-authored, and edited multiple archaeological reports during my time at Tree Time Services. My academic background includes working as a Research Assistant and a Teacher’s Assistant during the course of my Bachelor’s and my Master’s. I also worked for the University of Alberta at their Alberta Land and Settlement Infrastructure Project. During my time there, I examined thousands of scanned microfilm reels concerning early homestead records. This has not only greatly expanded my knowledge of Alberta and its various communities, but the homesteading process and what life was like for Alberta’s early settlers.
I have also work experience in museums and public outreach. Recently I have helped organize a two day public archaeology outreach event at Fort Edmonton Park in partnership with the Strathcona Archaeological Society and Tree Time Services. I also helped organize two evenings for training Fort Edmonton Park interpreters on Alberta archaeology. I first gained experience organizing outreach events as an interpreter for both the Kenosewun Museum and Captain Kennedy House Museum for the Government of Manitoba in 2008 and 2009. I was responsible for interpretive program development including tours, special events, and displays. I conducted and coordinated research with my assistants on a variety of subjects, ranging from local histories to native fauna and flora. Working for Tree Time Services, I have also organized and participated in Tree Time Services public outreach events at Sundre Museum and World of Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Rodeo, and Peace River Museum.
Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is undertaken in many different countries all over the world and it can go by just as many names, Contract Archaeology, Consulting Archaeology, Compliance Archaeology, and Heritage Resource Management (HRM) to name a few. Whatever CRM is called, the underlying purpose is always the same. These archaeologists engage in the protection, preservation, and professional management of archaeological and historic sites. In Canada, this means that we help minimize any impacts planned developments might have on a province’s archaeological and historic resources. These resources include archaeological sites containing artifacts such as stone tools and animal bones (Figure 1), and historic sites consisting of structures like cabins or artifacts like metal tools (Figure 2).
Using our experience in archaeology and research, along with computer programs like GIS, we review development plans and identify recorded sites and areas that have high potential to have archaeological and historical resources (Figure 3). This most commonly results in an archaeological survey of the high potential areas. Another option is to move a development or minimize the potential impacts by changing the way the development will be done.
Next, we go into the field to survey the high potential areas (Figure 4). In forested parts of Alberta we do this by shovel testing. If we identify a site, we dig more evaluative tests to determine the nature and extent of it. This allows us to contribute information for the government and other researchers concerning the size and type of sites in the area. In addition, it allows us to more precisely buffer the site for our clients so development can occur close to the site without impacting it. It also makes it possible for us to better evaluate the significance of the site and to render cost estimates for any mitigation work much more accurately.
Once we complete the field survey, we return to the office. This is where we catalogue the artifacts and compile a report for our clients and the government.
We get to do a lot of traveling around Alberta during the summer. Sometimes when time permits, we get to stop at local attractions. During a recent trip to Fort Vermilion we made a stop at St. Louis Catholic Church in what is locally referred to as ‘Buttertown’. This church was built in 1906-1909.
Check out the Fort Vermilion Heritage Center website for more information about the church and other attractions in the area
The most common wooden structure we find in the forest are cabins. However, once in a while we find something a little bit different. During a recent trip to Fort Vermilion, we found what we think could be an old ferry.
There are times when a shovel just won’t cut it. Some areas have high potential for deep sedimentation. When this occurs archaeologists will turn to other methods to look for sites and for buried paleosols. In this picture Kurt is about to monitor a backhoe while it digs a trench for us to examine. The end result is a long deep tench like the one pictured here.
Over the years archaeologists have adopted technological advances from other disciplines. In the office, using programs such as QGIS along with LIDAR and other data sets we can create models to predict sites. In the field, we use a GPS for navigation and iPads to take our notes. Artifact processing has also seen many advances helping us to date and source artifacts.
For all of these advances that have been made in the field, certain tools remain the same. One of the most essential tools that we use in the field is a shovel. I know many people associate trowels and fedoras with archaeologists, however these are most commonly used in academic excavations. While in the world of CRM the trowel will be used for certain situations, the shovel reigns, specifically at Tree Time it is the King of Spades.
The reigning king
The advantages to the King of Spades are its durability and its ability to cut through roots. The all metal shovel has never been broken by a staff member at Tree Time. Maybe lost forever in a deep stream when accidentally dropped… but never broken. In addition, the sheer weight of the shovel can help pound through roots. Other shovels are not as durable, the blades may warp, and they are more prone to breaking at the shaft break. Not the king though.
The Grizzly Challenger
Most shovels are not made of all metal but incorporate bits of wood. There can be a wide variety in quality so we highly recommend the Grizzly. These shovels are much lighter and easier to sharpen. The durability of the King of Spades comes at a cost, it is by far the heaviest and the most difficult to sharpen due to its thick blade. The ability to sharpen the Grizzly easily due to the thinner blade helps us maintain a sharp edge in the field to cut through roots. The light weight also makes them a lot easier to hike a long distance with, making for a much more pleasant hike.
In the end the durability of the King of Spades wins the favor of most of us at Tree Time. In fact five out of seven archaeologists, well at least at Tree Time, agree that the King of Spades shovel is the preferred tool. Long live the king.
This would not have happened if Madeline had the King of Spades!