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Exhibit Redevelopment

MOA is seeking input to guide plans for exhibit redevelopment and renewal.

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As most OAS members know, many Ontario archaeologists can trace the beginnings of their working lives to the Museum of Ontario Archaeology (MOA) at Western University. The Museum continues to offer programs in archaeology to southwestern Ontario students and to the public at large, and the London Chapter of the Society still holds its meetings at the Museum.

Sustainable Archaeology is now adjoined to the Museum although it will operate independently for several more years. The innovative technologies at Sustainable Archaeology present exciting opportunities for the Museum to refresh its public programming and exhibits, both inside and outside in the Lawson village. –

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As we all appreciate, archaeology brings the stories of how people lived to life. These stories connect us to our shared human heritage and give us a sense of place in the world. At the Museum, we believe that by connecting with and sharing our stories we understand and appreciate each other more and that Ontario’s archaeological heritage is (first and foremost) about people.

We recognize that it is time for our exhibits to change and we want as much input as possible into what these changes should be. We are reaching out to various communities and stakeholders to help develop the framework for our exhibit renewal. If you are interested in providing input on what stories should be told at MOA, please let us know.   You can forward your comments directly to Joan Kanigan, Executive Director by phone (519-473-1360) or email ( or complete this short on-line survey.

We will continue attempting to get out to the Chapter meetings over the next several months to provide an opportunity to share your comments directly.

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Dr. Ronald F. Williamson, Chair, Board of Directors, Museum of Ontario Archaeology


*This article originally appeared in ArchNotes and has been updated slightly.

Pow Wow Celebration

Pow Wow drum

Pulsating drums, multi-coloured regalia and the rhythmic steps of the dancers are the trademark of the pow-wow.  Today, these special gatherings are held by Indigenous peoples across North America.  As an inter-tribal celebration pow-wows take the form of either a competition in which dancers and drum groups compete for prizes or as a traditional pow-wow.   The traditional pow-wow is a ceremony for the purpose of honouring the Creator, Mother Earth or phases in the seasons.

The pow-wow is not however, without a history that at one time saw this rich cultural experience being strictly prohibited. The Indian Act of the mid 1800’s and its later amendments made it a criminal offense for First Nations people to engage in dances, ceremonies or gift giving practices.  It was believed that these undermined the principles and policies of assimilation.  From the potlatch to the pow-wow, many age old traditions were outlawed; extinguishing an important part of Indigenous culture.

Pow Wow Dancer
Pow Wow Dancer

Today, the pow-wow flourishes throughout North America, attracting audiences from all parts of the world.  Apart from the visual splendour of the dancers and the rhythmic beats of the drum, there is a protocol that spectators must follow in order to demonstrate respect and appreciation of this tradition.  In celebration of the spiritual and festive nature of this event, spectators are encouraged to applaud and join the dance when invited.

In keeping with the honour and respect of this time-honoured tradition, it is important that spectators refrain from,

  • Walking onto or crossing over on the dance arena or entering a dancer’s tent or set-up area,
  • Entering into the dance arena to get a better photograph of the dancers,
  • Touching a dancer’s regalia or a drummer’s drum or drumstick (unless permission is given),
  • Using the word ‘costume’ to describe what the dancers are wearing. Costumes are for ‘make-believe’ activities whereas, the appropriate term ‘regalia’ signifies authenticity,
  • Talking while an elder or veteran is speaking (generally using the microphone),
  • Picking up an eagle feather if one has fallen (contact a pow-wow volunteer).
Pow Wow Dancer
Pow Wow Dancer

Taking photographs is most welcome.  If you happen to meet a dancer outside the arena and would like a photo, it is always polite to ask.  Most dancers are pleased to pose and talk about their regalia and what the various feathers, beads, patterns and colours represent to them.

Written by Diana Barr

MOA’s Pow Wow is being held on September 19 and 20, 2015.  For more information visit

Collection Storage Project

Non-archival boxes previously used.
Non-archival boxes previously used.

This summer, MOA’s curatorial team began its next big project to repack ethnographic artefacts and maps in our collection storage area. Thanks to a grant from the London Community Foundation, MOA was able to purchase archival quality storage materials which will allow us to preserve our remarkable collection for many more generations to come. While it sounds like an easy project, repacking artifacts isn’t as simple as taking things out of one box and putting them in another.  So how are we going about this?

MOA’s ethnographic and map collection consists of more than 3000 objects.  Due to the size of this project, the curatorial team used this opportunity to inventory the entire collection by going through each box one by one.  For every object found in a box, the curatorial team updated its catalogue record, location, condition report, and took digital pictures.  After a box was complete, all objects were re-wrapped in acid free tissue with a new object barcode placed on the tissue surrounding each object.

Artifact properly wrapped and labeled.
Artifact properly wrapped and labeled.

So why are we using a barcode?  Barcodes are a handy way to tell what an object is without actually removing it from its protective wrapping. Our barcode system includes the accession number and image right on the sticker then the barcode itself can be scanned using any downloadable barcode app which lets us view the object’s information on our mobile devices.

After the inventory was complete, we calculated the sizes and number of boxes we would need to properly house the collection. Over 250 acid free boxes were purchased for our collection as well as new tags and archival ink for labeling our rare books and maps.

New acid free boxes housing artifacts.
New acid free boxes housing artifacts.

While the project has been going well, there have been a few challenges along the way.  As we were sifting through the maps, we found a box that had gotten wet at some point in the past and the maps inside were now in need of conservation. We immediately removed the damaged maps from the collection and placed them in containment until they can be looked at by a conservator.

We are fortunate there haven’t been many surprises thus far, however due to the scale of this project and the amount of materials we are still handling there are bound to be some more bumps along the way.

Stay tuned for updates and blog posts as we pave our way through this project.  If you want to help with our conservation efforts, please check out our Adopt an Artifact Program.  All funds raised through this program go to the care and conservation of MOA’s collection.


-The Curatorial Team-

Miggs Morris’s Return to the Drum honoured in Deline NWT

 Miggs Morris, acclaimed author, who has been part of the Museum of Ontario Archaeology for 15 years, had her book honoured at the UNESCO Biosphere Conference in Deline NWT the last week of July. At this conference Morris’s Return to the Drum was presented to keynote speaker David Suzuki and other delegates by Leonard Kenny, the Chief of Deline.

return to the drum cover

The Tudze, or Water Heart Conference, is named after a Dene legend about a living, breathing heart at the bottom of Great Bear Lake, on whose shores Deline is located. David Suzuki mentioned that he was “blown away” by the community’s connection to their natural environment and their commitment to its preservation.

Here, Miggs shares her experiences that led to her writing Return to the Drum (RTTD)

I came to Canada, from Wales, in 1963 and taught at a high school in Langley, B. C. for 2 years. During my second year, I read an advertisement in a Vancouver newspaper requesting teachers for Canada’s Far North – to work with either the Inuit or Dene – and so I applied and ended up in the tiny Dene community of Fort Franklin (as Deline was then called)….a village of 250 Dene, mainly hunters and trappers, 9 non-Natives and 400 dogs! I stayed for three wonderful years before going to the University of Saskatchewan as a student in Canada’s first Indian and Northern Education Program. While in Ft. Franklin/Deline, I had become increasingly frustrated by how, according to the Federal government, Native children were supposed to be educated, with no consideration given to their own language or culture. I therefore decided to enroll in Saskatoon’s program which dealt with these issues. I returned briefly to Deline in the summer of 1969, then after completing my Master’s degree, I was hired as a Language Arts Consultant by the Govt. of the NWT, to work with 9 Inuit communities around Hudson Bay, assisting teachers to enable young children to keep learning in Inuktitut (their own language) as they also learned English as a second language. Unfortunately, during my third year, I had to leave the North as travelling by plane or skidoo had become increasingly difficult due to severe back problems. That is when I came to London and received months of chiropractic treatment.

miggs in winter attire
Helen Chan (Left), nurse-in-charge,
and me in our winter attire.

One day in 1994, I decided to look through my Northern slides, especially those of Deline (as Fort Franklin was now called) and the photos brought back so many clear memories, they compelled me to begin writing about these adults and children with whom I had lived in the 1960s …. and so began the book. I then came to realize that I HAD to return to the village and did so during the summer of 1995, thirty years after I had first gone there. That is what Part 2 of the book is about – my going back, meeting so many of my former students now all grown up with their own families, and describing all the changes that had occurred in the village during those years…. mostly for the better, as the people had increasingly taken charge of their lives and their community.

The inspiration for my book came from living with, and getting to know these fine people in the 1960s and then eventually learning about all the changes they had gone through by 1995. I wrote the book to share the lives of these Northern people, but as it says on the book’s back cover: “Although the book shares the story of only one small group of people, RTTD sheds light on the struggles and successes of Aboriginal peoples across Canada.”

Copies of Return to the Drum are available for purchase in the MOA Gift Shop.

Meet the Staff: Education Intern Nicoletta Michienzi

How long have I been with  MOA?  I started my internship  July 2015.


How did I begin? I am a Masters student at Western, and as part of our program we a
re required to do an internship. I decided that I would split my time over the summer between Eldon House, a historic home in downtown London, and the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. MOA really interested me because I was involved with archaeology during my undergrad, and in my masters program we learned about museum policies.

What drew me to MOA? I had come to the Museum of Ontario Archaeology as a kid and I have fond memories of the visit. I remember thinking that it was a cool museum because it demonstrated that there was a lot of history in my own backyard. I developed a greater interest in archaeology and museums as I got older, and was fortunate enough to study history in university. During my Masters,  a friend who interned here during the school year reminded me about what a cool place the museum was. I decided that I should spend part of my time at MOA completing audience research.

Favourite part of the job? My favourite part of the job is definitely talking to all of the wonderful staff and visitors. Everyone brings something unique to the museum, and the staff brings their passion for what they do to the museum. It’s really just a positive and friendly work environment, and I feel fortunate to be here.

Tell the world: There’s so much I would like to tell the world about the museum! I would like to let everyone know how great the staff is and how dedicated they are to making the museum great. Though the building isn’t as shiny and new as some other museums, this one has a lot of great content and great people behind it who are always looking for ways to make the visitors experience more educational and fun.

Advice for others? My advice would be for people interested in history. No matter your age, if you’re passionate about something like history, there are always ways to expand your knowledge and get involved. It doesn’t have to be through school or clubs. Volunteer, visit museums, read history articles, attend talks, etc. Do what you can to expand your knowledge!

Memorable story? One of my favourite stories about my time here occurred on my first week. As part of my project I am supposed to talk to different visitors and see what they liked or didn’t like about the museum. While I was here one day a pair of visitors came into the museum.  I was a little nervous, but I went up to them to ask them about their visit. We got talking and I found out that they were from Michigan and were on vacation to Canada for a couple of weeks. We began talking about their trip and the museum in general, and I learned about how they got interested in museums. It turns out that their daughter is also in a museums masters program in the U.S. and her passion had inspired them to start visiting different historic places. It was an interesting moment for me, because these people became interested in history from talking to someone who loves history. It made me think, that hopefully I could make people see why I love history so much and maybe inspire them to learn more about history.

Can you dig it? Ontario Doug on an archaeological adventure!

Ontario Doug
Ontario Doug

Hi everybody! Ontario Doug here with exciting news about a recent excavation I went on with MOA’s curator Nicole Aszalos. We visited the Davidson Site near Parkhill this past June, and they even let me help with the excavations. It’s great to learn about history up close and I was eager to get my hands dirty!
The Davidson site is inland from Lake Huron on the Ausable River, and we got to work with Dr. Chris Ellis, Ontario Archaeologist and Professor at the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Ellis and his crew were looking at an old First Nations Site dating between the Late Archaic and Early Woodland period in Ontario. Did you know Dr. Ellis’ specialty focuses on the Late Archaic time period of about 3000-4500 years ago?


Ontario Doug examining artifacts in surface collections.
Ontario Doug examining artifacts in surface collections.

Our goal on this trip was to document three clusters of Late Archaic materials on a ploughed field surface by mapping and collecting all fire cracked rock and other artifacts. All day the archaeology crew conducted surface collections by 5×5 meter squares; we lost Dusty and Teabiscuit in them a few times! You wouldn’t believe how many artifacts we found, such as projectile points, bifaces, and tools. I found some fire cracked rock and chert flakes with Nicole and Dr. Lucy in our squares.

The team mapped items that they found, grid by grid, using a Total Station while picking up more items, such as fire cracked rock and Kettle Point chert. Nicole let me use the Total Station for the first time, and boy was that fun! A total station helps archaeologists create a map of the site, and can help future archaeologists plot where the team found artifacts on a map.

Ontario Doug and Dr. Lucy Troweler check out a recent find while helping Dr. Chris Ellis at the Parkhill site.
Ontario Doug and Dr. Lucy Troweler check out a recent
find while helping Dr. Chris Ellis at the Parkhill site.

Dusty helped us bag up and label the artifacts very carefully so we can wash and analyse them later, this helps us and future archaeologists identify the hundreds of objects we found! Some of the grid squares had plenty of objects, while some of them had very few. By the end of the day, the amount of objects the team collected made for some very weighty walks back to the vehicle. Good thing we had horse power!

We had great weather as well, sunny and hot! We were very lucky as Nicole says digging through mud is much harder. But after a hard days’ work, we were ready for some ice cream! We stopped at the “Lickity Split” ice cream parlour, and I was super excited to DIG IN!

Can’t wait to share more of my adventures with you all!

Ontario Doug

To learn more about Davidson Site, CLICK HERE

What’s this Point?

Identifying a Fluted Point Donated to MOA

Paleo point recently donated to MOA.
Paleo point recently donated to MOA.


A couple months ago, a beautiful Paleo Period projectile point was donated to MOA. MOA’s curatorial team conducted further research and would like to share why this point is so interesting to us.

Projectile points from the Paleo Period are hard to come by in comparison to points from the later Archaic and Woodland Periods. This is due, in part, to the living conditions and resources available to people during this time. During the Paleo period, people lived in small bands following a nomadic lifestyle which means they were continually moving from place to place, often following the migration of their food. Caribou was the most widely hunted mammal, although First Nations also hunted smaller game and fish during this period.  The total population in the earliest part of the Paleo Period in Ontario is estimated to be less than 1000 people. The wide variety of chert types found in this period suggest people travelled great distances in their seasonal rounds or had contact with people over wide areas.

The projectile point donated to MOA resembles what we think are the earliest forms of Clovis- like or Gainey fluted points. However, this point is atypical in two respects. First is the considerable amount of ripples near the tip on one side, and second is that the edges show possible reworking at a later time, possibly to create a hunting weapon tip. What’s interesting is that no major Paleo sites have been located or excavated in Ontario.

Typically, paleo peoples of Ontario favoured light coloured chert which makes this point distinct since it is on Upper Mercer Chert. This chert is primarily almost black, but it does take on a variety of secondary colours interspersed with the black including white, greys, and brown. Upper Mercer chert was often found in the Ohio Valley and use of this material lasted well into the Archaic period.  Crowfield and Barnes Parkhill points are examples of other Paleo points found in Ontario.

Crowfield points on display at MOA.
Crowfield points on display at MOA.
Barnes Parkhill Points on display at MOA.
Barnes Parkhill Points on display at MOA.

Paleo points are fascinating not just because they can date around 12,000 years before present, but because they represent some of the earliest forms of technology found in Southern Ontario.


Chert: A fine grained sedimentary rock used for making various types of projectile points.

Further Reading:

Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland- Clovis Points:

London Chapter OAS- Southern Ontario Projectile Points:

Ontario Doug and Wampum

Ontario Doug
Ontario Doug

Ontario Doug and the Importance of Wampum

Ontario Doug has spent the last couple of weeks with Dr. Lucy learning about wampum.  He was particularly intrigued by a recent blog post that MOA wrote on Wampum and wanted to learn more – especially how to make the wampum craft.

Wampum are small tubular beads carved from shell, and are either white or purple in colour. The white beads are carved from the interior of a Whelk shell and the purple beads typically originate from dark markings on the exterior of a Quahog shell.  Because they are less common, purple beads would have held a higher value. These beads were traditionally woven into either strings or belts and used to record important agreements and accounts of civil affairs between Indigenous groups, as well as within the groups themselves. These belts were made for many different reasons, and could represent everything from marriage proposals, to trade and land treaties, to funerary condolences.

Wampum belts 1812 exhibit, Museum of Ontario Archaeology

Prior to European contact, there was no set form of written language, and as such the Indigenous populations of North America relied heavily on oral tradition and the maintenance of woven wampum records to serve as early forms of “legal” documentation. Picking up on the cultural value of these items, European traders would later utilize Wampum Belts as methods of monetary payment, bringing forth factory made belts to be offered in exchange for furs and hunting supplies. The beads themselves were often used as trade items between Indigenous groups, as the shells were more commonly found on the West and East coasts of the continent, and could thus be traded for inland crops like corn and beans and squash, as well as beaver furs.

Ontario Doug is using a looped piece of string and some pony beads to make a wampum craft with Dr. Lucy.

Dusty and Teabiscuit watch Ontario Doug and Dr. Lucy choose beads for their wampum craft.
Dusty and Teabiscuit
watch Ontario Doug and
Dr. Lucy choose beads
for their wampum craft.


  1. First, he uses a long piece of string, folded in two and knotted at the top to create a loop which will later be used for tying the wampum to either his wrist, for a bracelet or to a backpack like a keychain!
  2. To make the weaving process easier, Doug has added some toothpicks to the ends of his string with regular scotch tape.
  3. Doug starts by threading one bead on the his string, just past the toothpick, and then passing the second toothpick through his bead in the same direction as the first –note here that two toothpicks cannot pass simultaneously through the inside of the bead, so one string must be threaded at a time.

    Ontario Doug using a toothpick to string
    Ontario Doug using
    a toothpick to
    string beads.
  4. To create colourful rows (which may be strategically chosen to represent some sort of agreement), Doug strings three beads on to his toothpick next. If you are using toothpick-ed string, the tooth picks should not go through this row in the same direction like he did with the first bead, but opposite, creating an “X” effect with the attached strings.
  5. Doug repeats this “X”ed pattern of applying 3 or 4 beads to each row at a time, making the belt or bracelet as long as he likes. Typical bracelet length is about 6 or 7 rows of beads.
  6. When Doug is ready to finish off his bracelet, he applies another single bead to the end of his belt, weaving it with the same “X” pattern as the last 6 or 7 rows have utilized. Once he has done this, he slips the toothpicks off the ends of his string, and ties a knot above the last bead (double or triple knotting ensures a good hold here).


Dr. Lucy and Teabiscuit with their Wampum craft.
Dr. Lucy and Teabiscuit with their Wampum craft.

Bibliographic Information:

Haas, Angela M. “Wampum as Hypertext: An American Indian Intellectual Tradition of Multimedia Theory  and Practice.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 19.4 (2007): 77-100. Print.

Vachon, Robert. Guswenta Or the Intercultural Imperative: Towards a Re-enacted Peace Accord Between the Mohawk Nation and the North American Nation-states (and Their Peoples). Intercultural Institute of Montreal, 1995.

Foster, Michael K. “Another look at the function of Wampum in Iroquois-White councils.” The History and Culture of Iroquois Diplomacy 99.114 (1985): 105.


Shell Beads

What did First Nations people wear for fashion? Or for ritual purposes? What did the decoration on their cloths and these objects look like? How were they made? These can be some of the questions one might ask when referring to the objects that First Nations made through beadwork.

Throughout the Great Lakes region, Indigenous peoples created accessories and materials with beads. The use of beadwork by First Nations people for decorative and other purposes has been practiced throughout history.  Materials such as stone, bone and shells have been used to make beaded objects. Prior to the arrival of European settlers, beads were larger in size and came in a variety of shapes.

With the arrival of Europeans, Indigenous peoples were introduced to smaller beads made of glass. As a result, they were able to create more intricate beadwork designs and applied these methods to various objects such as the Wampum Belt.

Wampum belts 1812 exhibit, Museum of Ontario Archaeology

Wampum belts are made from beads that are sewn together with each bead colour placed in a specific pattern and arrangement.  Wampum belts were used for rituals and political situations, such as peace treaties and unifications.


Moccasins are another example of objects that incorporates patterns of beadwork. The moccasin, a form of footwear worn by Indigenous peoples, was made from animal hide. Beaded designs – usually made using glass beads, was added on the footwear.

Smaller glass beads were also used to make elaborate necklaces and other forms of jewellery. The Iroquois for example used beads for personal adornment and to decorate items such as clubs and pouches. The pouch would have a matching beaded belt.  Pouches would also often have beaded strings made from dyed horse hair attached to them.

Pouch with decorative beadwork.
Pouch with decorative beadwork.

Visit the museum to see examples of beadwork currently on display.



Tara Prindle, “Overview of Footwear, Moccasin” Native American Technology and Art, 1994

Karklins, Karlis. Trade Ornament Usage Among the Native Peoples of Canada. Ottawa: Ministry of the Environment, 1992.

Beads: Their Use by Upper Great Lakes Indians.  An exhibition produced by the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Cranbrook Academy of Art/Museum

Lyford, Carrie A. Iroquois Crafts. Iroqrafts Publications, 1945.

Ontario Doug – The Adventure Begins

There are many things Ontario Doug and Dr. Lucy Troweler want to explore while at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology.  In addition to the various exhibits and Lawson Village, there are a lot of different activities happening at the museum this summer.

Ontario Doug with Poetter
Checking out the pottery activity.

Dr. Lucy is really interested in what’s happening behind the scenes and has already started exploring the museum’s on-line collection to find out more about the museum’s artifacts and how they can be used to inspire an appreciation for Ontario’s cultural diversity.Dusty and Seabiscuit are really looking forward to checking out all the fun stuff our future archaeologists are doing at the museum during Summer Camp and Ontario Doug can’t wait to help out during the Youth Dig-It Campin August.



Ontario Doug exploring the Jury Model.
Ontario Doug exploring the Jury Model.

One of Ontario Doug’s first stops in the Museum was the Jury Model.  Build by Wilfrid Jury and his father Amos in 1933, the model depicts the visit of the Jesuit priests Jean de Brebeuf and Pierre Joseph Marie Chaumonot to the Attawandarons.  The Jesuit Priests traveled from their mission “Sainte-Marie among the Hurons” to this district in 1641.


Wilfrid Jury with Pope Paul VI.
Wilfrid Jury with Pope Paul VI.

For four years, Wilf and Elsie conducted excavations at St. Marie I and completed extensive archival research about the site and its occupants. The site became an attraction, visited by thousands, and Wilf became nationally recognized. In December 1964, Pope Paul VI granted Wilf and Elsie audience and gave his blessing to the Ontario government and all that were involved in the excavation St. Marie I.


Ontario Doug is particularly interested in this early diorama because of its connection with Wilfrid Juryand Sainte-Marie among the Hurons.