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TMHC War 1812 Artifacts

War of 1812 Artifacts

Archaeological excavations conducted by Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc. (TMHC) uncovered a small number of artifacts from the War of 1812. These included a musket ball, two buck shot and a caltrop. Click here to see image examples.  The musket ball measured between 16.5 mm (0.65 inch) and 17.0 mm (0.67 inch) in diameter, and both buck shot measured in the double naught size range, that is, between 8.4 mm (0.33 inch) and 8.9 mm (0.35 inch) in diameter. These sizes were consistent with the buck and ball load American troops employed during the War of 1812. Buck and ball was a paper cartridge containing one musket ball and two or three buck shot. The purpose was to increase the chance of hitting a target with the bonus possibility of hitting multiple targets with one shot. The smaller buck shot might not kill a target but could cause enough injury to remove a soldier from battle.

Caltrop from Jamestown.
Caltrop from Jamestown.

A caltrop (also known as a crow’s foot) was an iron, non-explosive, anti-personnel device that always had a spike pointed up when tossed on the ground, causing injury to the horse or person who stepped on it. The purpose of caltrops was to slow down pursuing troops. Caltrops typically had four points, while the one collected by TMHC had five points. It is also quite small, with a maximum length of 34 mm (1.34 inches). The caltrop is a unique find; so far it is the only known War of 1812 caltrop. The only other known caltrops found archaeologically were discovered at Jamestown, Virginia. In this case, the 17th-century colonists used caltrops as a defense and warning system against surprise attacks.

Work study profile: Marta


My name is Marta and I’m an education assistant at the museum. I’ve only worked here for a few months but it feels much, much longer. As an education assistant I do a lot of really cool things. How many other people can say they made soup over a camp fire at work? But my main job is educational tours, mostly with school groups. I love working with kids – they provide unique new insights into the most mundane things and I always get a fresh perspective on something I have done countless of times. Their questions usually make me question things I’ve never thought about before, which in turn leads me to expanding my own knowledge. This is what makes each tour unique, even though, technically, I repeat the same information every time.

I believe that we can learn so much from people of the past, which is why archaeology will always be relevant. Besides, I always loved museums because there was so much cool stuff in them (Mummies! Dinosaurs! Bones!). So when I saw the job opening at MOA, it seemed like the perfect job for me. Since then, I learned an incredible amount about the history of First Nations in Canada and about archaeology in general. One of my favourite things about working here is the approach to education and emphasis on learning.

So what do I do when I’m not at work? I’m always writing one thing or another and I read anything I can get my hands on. Besides that, I’m studying anthropology and French at Western so my life revolves around readings, papers and watching Jeopardy.

Fun fact – I have a mummy in one of my classes. She’s not very talkative. But we get along.

April Palisade Newsletter

Featured in this month’s Palisade e-Post:

April Newsletter

- April 2nd: Before Ontario Thought Exchange at Toronto Public Library
- April 6th Moccasin Making Workshop * Cancelled as of April 2nd.
- London Chapter OAS meeting April 10th: research from Cedar Creek
- Featured Artifact from Fugitive Slave Chapel
- Supplies needed for Educational Programming
- Sweat Ceremony April 15th
- Upcoming Canadian Archaeological Association conference in London

Provide us with your email to receive our monthly newsletter:

Simcoe’s Boat found in Thames

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                 April 1, 2014

Simcoe’s Boat Found  in Thames River

Local archaeologists have discovered a remnant of an ancient boat found in the Thames River. It is believed to have belonged to Simcoe on his voyage here in the late 1700s. Last summer’s low river levels presented archaeologists with an opportunity to investigate the soil beneath the bed of the Thames River, revealing a historically significant piece of wood.  Professor Anaidni Senoj was leading his team’s excavation and recounts his discovery:  “When I came across the piece of wood, I knew immediately that I’d hit historical gold. I chuckled to myself, tipped my fedora, and said my favourite Indiana Jones quote from The Last Crusade: ‘This should be in a Museum!’”

Wood sample from Simcoe's boat
Wood sample from Simcoe’s boat

Senoj and his team found a 25 meter long, 7 meter wide piece of a boat’s awning and recovered two pieces of wood from it for testing at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. Over the course of a few months, archaeologists used carbon dating, dendrochronology, and historical research reports to decipher whether this was indeed a piece of Simcoe’s vessel. Historical records have uncovered a close match to accounts made by Simcoe and his expedition team in the late 1700s. John Graves Simcoe was the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada. By studying numerous maps, he concluded that London would be the ideal site for the capital. February 1793, he started out on an expedition from Niagara on a bateau, a flat bottomed oared boat with an awning and lateen sail. Simcoe and his team (Major Edward Littlehales and Lieutenant Thomas Talbot) arrived at the Forks of the Thames on March 2nd. The awning of the boat had broken and was discarded, as mentioned in historical records and travel journals. Later in the week, Simcoe and his team continued their journey to Detroit without protection from the sun. Dendrochonology, the process of counting tree rings on wood artifacts, has given an exact date of April 1st, 1783 when the tree that became the awning had been cut down. This date was supported by carbon dating results. One of the archaeology students responsible for dating the artifact described the meticulous process, “At first, I only counted 221 rings on the wood but then I flipped it over and found an additional 10 rings, bringing the date up to 1783 which totally makes sense for this artifact.” The Museum of Ontario Archaeology will be holding this artifact in storage as research continues. If you would like to learn more about the progress of this local historical artifact, please visit

Original image courtesy of Toronto Public Library
Original image courtesy of Toronto Public Library


Work study Profile: Jillian Baker

Jillian Baker showing her purple pride for Western University
Jillian Baker showing her purple pride for Western University

Hello! My name is Jillian Baker, and I am a third year student at Western University, double majoring in First Nations Studies and English literature.  I have spent three terms with the museum now, working as both an Education Assistant during the year, and the Head Camp Counsellor over the summer. My job ranges across a variety of disciplines,  allowing me to both hone my own teaching skills with regards to cultural studies, while also gathering a thorough grounding in the ins and outs of archaeology. When I am not at the museum, I can be found reading a book, or –more likely– eating. I enjoy good quality cheeses and home baked treats.

I am a lover of books, arts, and cultures, and a believer that there is nothing better for the soul than a good cup of hot chocolate. I got my first taste of archaeology, like most people, from the gloriously fictitious Indiana Jones, starring heartthrob Harrison Ford. I later learned that running from boulders and uncovering alien remains is not the norm, especially not for archaeologists in Southwestern Ontario. I have since grown to truly appreciate the subtle and fine art of digging, cleaning, contextualizing and filling out the paper necessary to call oneself akin to Indie; while it is not included in my personal career path, it remains a very well respected science in my eyes.
Come meet me, and my coworkers at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, where history is in your hands!

Selected Artifacts from the Fugitive Slave Chapel Site

Fugitive Slave Chapel Artifacts

Objects found at an archaeological site tell us a lot about the people who lived there. After all, archaeology is the study of material evidence left behind by humans in order to understand their behaviour.

We cannot yet tell you a lot about life at the Fugitive Slave Chapel because analysis of the artifacts has only just begun. The artifacts were excavated in May to July 2013 and were washed and processed in January 2014. The research that has been found was collected thanks to volunteer efforts. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology is lucky to have the chance to display these artifacts to the public before they are analysed and researched by the archaeological team, Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants.

Out of 41 excavated units, a total of 8 potential cultural features were identified on the site. One may have been a grey water pit and others were likely small refuse pits which explains the wide assortment of ceramics, glassware, and buttons.

 Selected artifacts from the Fugitive Slave Chapel Site

Buttons found on this site range from bone, shell, white glass, coloured glass and metal.

FSC buttons
  • Bone buttons are the oldest known fastener to mankind but they fell out of popularity by the 1850s.They ranged from one-holed to four holed.
  • Shell buttons are much more fragile than bone. They were less costly to produce and were popular as shirt buttons from the 1820s to mid 19th century.
  • Glass buttons are rare items. They were first produced in the 1830s.
  • Metal buttons present the most variations, with images, stamps, logos and designs . They began to be commercially manufactured in the 18th century.  They were quite common and used on many different items.
  • FrenchButton

One particular metal button has caught our attention: It is from the mailman’s uniform of the postal service in France, Postes et Telegraphes. It still remains a mystery of how it ended up in London, ON.


Hoyt’s German Cologne

This cologne was invented by Eli Waite Hoyt of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1870s. Eli began as an apprentice in an apothecary shop in 1850 and took over the business in 1863. A smart businessman, he sold his cologne for $1 and distributed free samples to increase the demand of his product. His tagline: “the most fragrant and lasting of all perfumes” has been supported by people today who have come across sample cards in old scrapbooks. By 1877, demand was so high that he had to devote all his time to this cologne. The company produced cologne until the early 1950s.

Interesting fact: “German” was added to the title to be catchy. It actually had nothing to do with Germany.


Vaseline jar

Vaseline was discovered by Robert Augustus Chesebrough, an oil chemist who discovered that rod wax had healing properties. After experimenting with it, he finally came up with petroleum jelly.  By 1870, it was being marketed as Vaseline (the mix of the German word for water and Greek word for oil).


Fletcher’s Castoria/ Pitchers Castoria bottle

These bottles are commonly found as early as 1870s. They were marketed as an alternative to castor oil, to be used as a laxative. Dr. Samuel Pitcher patented his product in 1868 and sold as Pitcher’s Castoria. In 1871, the Centaur Company (owned by Charles Fletcher) took over and re-named the product Fletcher’s Castoria. It is still produced today.


King of the Blood bottle

King of the Blood was a ‘cure-all’ product by D. Ransom Son & Co in the 1870s. Advertisements stated that it “cures all humours, from a common eruption to the worst scrofula” by purifying the blood and displacing any and all diseases.

Click here for a link to their advertisement:

Northrop & Lyman bottle

Northrop bottles are common archaeological finds on 19th century Canadian sites. The company began as a retail drug store in Newcastle, Ontario (Canada West) in 1854 as Tuttle, Moses and Northrop. At its peak in the early 19th century, Northrop & Lyman products were selling throughout Canada, in the West Indies, South America and Australia.

Turk's Head

Human effigy fragment: Turks Head

American effigy pipes (called Turks heads or Caesar pipes) are common discoveries on 19th century sites. The Turks theme has been used in association with tobacco around the world for centuries. These pipes were created from molds dividing the pipe in half, through the center of the face. Smoking tobacco from cigarettes did not become popular until WWI.


“Toronto Normal School” ceramic

Wallis Gimson & Co. created a multi-scene pattern in 1884 titled “The World”. It was based on photographs of Canada, England, and America. The company went out of business in 1890 but their wares were still being sold. This piece was found fully intact and features an image of the Normal School in Toronto and Grand Battery in Quebec.


About Us: History- The Discovery. Vaseline. N.d. Web. 5 March 2014.

Collard, Elizabeth. The Potter’s View of Canada: Canadian Scenes on Nineteenth-century Earthenware. McGill-Queen’s University Press: Toronto, 1983. Book.

Sullivan, Catherine. “The Bottles of Northrop & Lyman, A Canadian Drug Firm.” Material Culture Review / Revue de la culture matérielle [Online], 18 (1983): n. pag. Web. 5 March 2014.

Venovcevs, Anatolijs. “Dress for Life and Death: The Archaeology of Common Nineteenth-Century Buttons “. Archaeological Services Inc., Toronto.  Forward into the Past Conference, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON. 6 April 2013. Web. 5 March 2014.

Workstudy Profile: Lor Garry

Lor at our Annual Pow Wow September 2013.
Lor (Left) and a volunteer at our Annual Pow Wow September 2013.

Hello, my name is Lor Garry and I’m an Education Assistant at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. I have been working at the Museum since September 2013 as part of the Work Study program through Western University.Previously, I have had other teaching-related positions, such as at the Children’s Museum as a Day Camp Counselor and other tutoring and mentoring programs, but I wanted to branch out and get involved with an organization with a more specific focus. I have always been really interested in history, so I thought that getting involved with educational programming at the Museum would build upon my previous skills and take me in a new direction.



My favourite part about working at the Museum is leading educational programs for multiple age groups. It’s great to see how kids of different grades engage with the tours and activities differently, and I love to teach the kids about First Nations history. The Museum programming really does a good job of engaging the kids by balancing educational tours with hands-on activities such as crafts which further reinforces their learning. In addition, being a staff member in an archaeology museum has also broadened my understanding of history and has made me more interested in learning about archaeological processes and discovering the past. I also really enjoy working with the staff at the museum, as they are extremely supportive, intelligent, and always inspire me to create new ideas.

I would encourage people to visit the Museum to learn more about the history of London, Ontario. Even though there are many educational programs and birthday parties here hosted for children, the Museum is for people of all ages to come and learn about the history of their community.

Workstudy Profile: Rory Hibbs


Hello, my name is Rory Hibbs. I began working for the museum this past September as a Camp Activity Designer. I have bachelor’s degree in history from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.  I have had an interest in history for as long as I can remember. My first major assignment was a diorama on the Titanic in the 1st grade and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Learning about our past in whatever form is always interesting.

What inspired you to work at MOA?
I came to the museum through a work-study program through Western University.  What drew me to the position was the possibility of working around history and engaging with artifacts, which are our direct link to the past.  I think it is a great thing to introduce young children to cultural artifacts.  It is the best way to inspire children to get involved with their past.

What is your favourite part of your job?
I appreciate the opportunity to create content and activities that will be beneficial to younger minds.  It took one little spark when I was a child to set me on a path to where I am today and maybe such an experience can happen for someone else’s child just the same.

If there was one thing you could tell the world about MOA, what would it be?
Our past is the interaction of different peoples and cultures over time and how the two opposing forces impact and influence each other.  Canadian’s owe their heritage to the Aboriginal Peoples of this land.  Coming to the MOA, you will have an opportunity to appreciate that heritage through a distinct community that called London home long before our descendants arrived here.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a Summer Camp activity that will explore Canada from coast to coast for the camp theme “Journey Across Canada”.

How has your job changed since you started?
I’ve had opportunities to branch away from my camp designing and help with the annual Pow Wow as well as some birthday groups.  I also represented the museum at this year’s “Halloween in the Village” in Wortley Village this past October, which was a great experienceIt was nice to participate in an event that brings friends and community together.  It was a very wet and gloomy looking day and yet hundreds came out with their children and Halloween costumes and had a great time.

What advice can you give others?
If it is worth your sweat and tears, then it is worth seeing to the end.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m either reading some history book or looking for an interesting documentary to watch.  Otherwise, I am unwinding with some music or playing guitar.

March Palisade Newsletter

Attached is our March 2014 Palisade e-Post Newsletter.
- March activities include Kids 1st Day (March 7th), extended hours over March Break (March 10-14), and March Break Day Camp for kids.
- London Chapter OAS Meeting is March 13th at 8 pm
- Read about our featured artifact from the Fugitive Slave Chapel site
- Learn about our blogs and link to the stories we’ve been featuring
- Registration is now open for our Spring moccasin making workshop April 6th.
- Sweat Ceremony March 16th at sunset
Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter!

March Break at MOA

Pop-Up Museum Activities throughout March Break

If you’re spending March break with your kids (or grandkids) you can bring them by the museum for a visit. We are open Monday to Friday from 10 am – 4:30 pm and will be featuring different ‘pop-up’ museum activities throughout the week. These will include crafts, games, and interactive exhibit additions. To find out what we are doing and at what time, pay close attention to our Facebook page where the day’s activities will be revealed each morning.  Pop-up activities will include snowsnake throwing, pottery reconstruction, cookie excavations, snow painting, storytelling, and more! Regular admission rates apply.

Pottery Reconstruction
Cookie Excavation





March Break – MOA Olympics!

MOA olympics

March break is fast approaching. Beginning Monday March 10, and continuing all the way to Friday March 14, children throughout the London region will be off school and looking for things to do.  So, come join us here at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, where we will once again be hosting our popular March break children’s day-camp for ages 5-9.

This year’s theme is the MOA Olympics; children will explore the origins of these events in ancient Greece, they will play sports and games from around the world, discover the modern day Olympics and their mascots. Everything will come together in a day of friendly competition on Friday.

MOA camps are designed to feature a variety of activities to interest all. The MOA  Olympics  week will be filled with games, crafts and physical activity – and of course some learning throughout!

Children will create their own olive leaf crowns, Olympic medals and mascots; they will play winter sports, such as snowshoeing, a special winter outdoor obstacle course, as well as First Nations traditional sports, such as snowsnake throwing, lacrosse and owl hop.

Children may attend camp for all five days ($135/child), or try camp for single days ($35/day/child).

Spaces are filling up fast! Registration details at