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Adopt an Artifact

Artifacts for Adoption

Are you, or someone you know, passionate about archaeology… cultural heritage… history? Are you looking for a way to connect with Ontario’s archaeological and cultural heritage? Trying to find a unique gift for the person who “has everything”?

How you can Adopt an Artifact

MOA ‘s Adopt an Artifact program is a symbolic way to show your appreciation of Ontario’s archaeological and cultural heritage, connect with your favorite object, and support the museum.

The Adopt an Artifact program includes different types of artifacts as well as different levels of adoption.   Whether you are interested in stone tools, ceramics, or cultural artifacts – there are a variety of different artifacts available.  There are also a selection of artifacts specifically for school groups and classes to adopt. When you adopt an artifact, you get the opportunity to share why you chose the artifact along with a Certificate of Adoption, a photograph of your artifact, a charitable tax receipt, and other benefits depending on the adoption level.

Some of the artifacts available for adoption include beaded moccasins, a woven cup and saucer, and Wilfrid Jury’s Carving Set.

Adopt these artifacts

All proceeds from adoptions go to the care and maintenance of MOA’s collection. Donations will help provide equipment such as proper archival boxes for our artifacts, updated environmental controls and monitors, restoration of damaged ethnographic and archival objects, and continuation of our online collection.

Most importantly, donations will help sustain the knowledge, cultural appreciation, and significance of our collection for generations to come.


Consider adopting an artifact today.

Check out all the artifacts currently available here!


Traditional Games workshop

The Traditional Games workshop offers an interactive way for visiting school groups to learn about Canada’s First Nation traditional games. Weather permitting, we play Inuit games, lacrosse, and double ball outside with small groups. It’s an active and hands-on opportunity to teach students about traditional games.



Lacrosse has a long history in Canada, and many variations of this game have been played around the continent.  Lacrosse as we understand it today first developed in this region of Canada, by the Iroquois people, known in their language as dehonchigwiis.  It is a game that was played among the Six Nations Confederacy and is an important part of Iroquois culture.  It was typically played by men, though both men and women participated in the celebrations and rituals surrounding it.  Different forms of lacrosse are believed to have emerged as early as the 12th century, long before the arrival of Europeans to North America.   It is typically played with racquets made out of wood, connected to pouches (traditionally made out of hide), which players use to toss a ball (traditionally made with deerskin, now with rubber) back and forth in order to score on the opposing team’s goal.  Lacrosse games could involve mass amounts of people, with hundreds of players on a field that could be a mile long.  Lacrosse occupies an important place in Iroquois culture, as it is a gift from the Creator, and is used to give thanks to the gods and to provide the Creator with entertainment.  While it is a game that requires physical fitness and aggression, it is ultimately a celebration of the Creator’s gifts, and is also used to encourage healing and medicine.  Lacrosse was taught to European settlers when they arrived, and it was given the name lacrosse by French settlers, in reference to the sticks looking like Bishop croziers.  The matches became much smaller over time, and it eventually became Canada’s official sport, receiving some popularity internationally.  Lacrosse tournaments continue today, run by the Canadian Lacrosse Association, as well by the Iroquois Nationals, a First Nations lead organization founded in 1983 that carries out lacrosse tournaments in the spirit of playing for enjoyment, healing, and thankfulness.


Double Ball

We Pitisowewepahikan, or double ball, is another prominent sport played among First Nations peoples in North America, specifically in the prairies and in what is now the Eastern United States.  It is a physically demanding game that was traditionally only played by women, though over time it was played by both genders.   Similar in some ways to lacrosse, this game is played with long sticks and two balls tied together.  The goal of the game was to loop the balls onto the stick and pass them between the players until it is sent through the opposing team’s goal post.  This game could be played with as many as six to one hundred players, with variations of the game among different groups.  The Plains Cree tended to use a stick and double ball made from deerskin around buffalo hair held together with a leather thong, while the Chippewa used lather bags filled with sand.  This is considered to be a game of skill, and like many others is was played in large gatherings during times of celebration.

Inuit Games

There are a number of games played by the Inuit, which were used to encourage and build up agility, strength and endurance to survive in the harsh landscape.  They also served  the purpose of being entertaining and to keep spirits up during long periods of cold and darkness in the winter, especially if a family was experiencing a food shortage.  For example, games such as the owl hop, in which a person hops on one leg for as long as they can, were fun and built up strength and patience for hunting.

Further information:

Work Study Profile: Illinca


Name: Ilinca Olariu

How long have you worked at MOA? I’ve worked at MOA since October 2014.

What is your job title and what do you do? I am an education assistant. I am responsible for giving tours – usually to primary school groups, but occasionally to afterschool programs such as scouts, brownies or non-school tours.

How did you begin working at MOA; what led you to this position? I am working for MOA through the University of Western Ontario’s Work Study program. I am currently in my second year of my undergraduate program at Western, doing an honours specialization in History, (with a minor in French Language and Translation and a minor in Spanish Language and Linguistics.) I wanted to find a work position in affiliation with the university that would reflect my academic interests – what better way to do this than working at a museum!

What drew you to this position?
Actually, by word of mouth – I was lucky enough to be in contact with the right people at the right time! Kylie Kelly, an assistant curator at the time, had told me about her experiences working at the museum. In September 2014, I happened to run into her on the bus on my way home from Masonville mall, where I had just summited resumes to any and every store I could think of, as I was searching for part-time employment. Kylie told me about the opportunity of working at the museum through Western’s Work Study program and helped me apply online. Read more

Work Study Profile: Dane

Dane Ferry

Hello, I’m Dane Ferry. I have been with the museum since February of 2015. I came to here of this position through Western University’s Work-Study program and thought it would be an enriching and educational employment experience. My previous employment in the service industry combined with over six years of volunteering with local non-profit organizations has prepared me well for my duties at the museum. The work environment here is unlike any other in which I have experienced, it is fun, lively and enthralling.

My favourite aspect of my job here is working with children to help enrich their educational experience.  I am currently working on expanding and updating some of the current educational program activities as well as presenting them. Working here has changed my outlook on education and North American culture. As an International Relations major I’m always looking for ways to incorporate history into my daily life and working at the museum has helped me greatly in doing so.

While working, I really enjoy learning about Indigenous culture as well as other aspects of Canadian history which I have always been interested in but never really had access to. I look forward what will hopefully be a long relationship with this organization as it provides an invaluable service to the London community.

Work Study Profile: Arienne

Hello, I’m Arienne!


I have been an Education Assistant with the museum since January 2015. I am in charge of making your days of learning and exploring at MOA as great as possible. So far I am loving my role, I have learned so much about Ontario’s history – who knew so much went on right where we stand!

A bit about myself: I am a fourth year student at Western University, currently finishing up my studies in English and French Language and Literature. Next year I plan to study Education, so I love being able to learn alongside all of the visitors to MOA.  I am a huge dog person and I love walking my golden retriever Kendall through all the paths of Hamilton, my hometown. In my third year of my undergraduate studies, I had the privilege of studying in Nice, France. My favourite place that I have traveled to would have to be Amsterdam. My Opa (grandpa in Dutch) grew up there and worked in his father’s barbershop before immigrating to Canada. Being able to explore the city of his childhood, and eating all of the Dutch food of my childhood, led to an amazing trip I’ll never forget. Not to mention the beauty of the tall, crooked architecture, the canals and houseboats, and the insane bike lane laws. Since then, I’ve been bitten by the travel bug, and hope to explore more of Europe – specifically the East – and hope to find myself in Southeast Asia for my next adventure.

If you ever spot me at MOA, come over and say hi!

Woodland Painting Workshop

Woodland Painting Workshop and Norval Morriseau

Moses Lunham art
Moses Lunham art at Pow Wow Sept 2014

Woodland Style painting was invented by Norval Morrisseau (Copper Thunderbird), an Ojibway artist from the Sandy Point Reserve, near Beardmore, Ontario. He was born March 14, 1932 and died in Toronto, December 4, 2007. One of Canada’s most well known Aboriginal artists, he left behind thousands of paintings and a whole new art form that has influenced three generations of artists.

Morrisseau was the eldest of seven children and was raised by his maternal grandparents. His grandfather was a shaman, and taught Morrisseau all the customs and traditions of his position. As an adult, Morrisseau would follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a shaman himself. He began to develop his art technique in the late 1950s while working as a miner. By the early 1960s, he was working as a full time artist and has received Canadian and International recognition and awards for his work.

His grandfather’s teachings heavily influenced Morrisseau’s art. In fact, he is the first Ojibway artist to transform Ojibway oral and spiritual culture into visual art. His work draws on symbols from Anishinaabe decorative arts and Midewiwin birchbark scrolls. His subject matter explores Anishinaabe culture, the importance of family, the connections between all living things, and the tensions between Christianity and Shamanism.

Woodland Painting Workshop 2
Woodland Painting Workshop

Woodland style painting is characterized by bright colours, bold outlines, spirit lines, abstract forms, and nature subjects. This school of painting began with Morrisseau, but became more established as other artists began to follow in his footsteps. The style follows ancient traditions and uses popular subjects of bears, large cats, snakes and birds. Lines can symbolize movement, communication, power or prophecy. Split circles represent duality in nature, while x-ray views represent the subject’s inner spirit. Common images include transformations or communication between men and animals.

Other artists who work in woodland style include Mark A. Jacobson, Roy Thomas, and local artists Jeremiah Mason, Clayton King, and Moses Lunham.

Woodland Painting Workshop
Woodland Painting Workshop

MOA’s Woodland painting workshop (as part of our Educational Programming) has students use the five main characteristics mentioned above to create their own woodland paintings. They are given a description of each characteristic to ensure they understand what each one means. Each table has an example of a woodland art work but we encourage students to make whatever they want. For those who have trouble starting, we explain that many woodland artists don’t use rough drafts, as they prefer to paint what comes to mind. Some of the paintings the students create are amazing pieces of art, and for all, are great souvenirs from their learning experience at MOA.

– Written by Vasanthi Pendakur, MOA Educational Assistant 2014/2015.


“Norval (called Copper Thunderbird) Morriseau.” National Gallery of Canada.

“Woodland Art.” Native Art in Canada.

“Order of Canada, Norval Morriseau, C.M.” The Governor General of Canada.

“Morrisseau experts hunt for up to 10,000 pieces.” Ottawa Citizen January 2, 2007.

Kennedy, Randy. “Norval Morrisseau, was native artist of Canada.” The Boston Globe.


Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup, a story of tapping the spring trees

Maple Tap, MOA collection
Maple Tap (one of two), MOA’s Jury collection from St. Marie II site.




The sounds of spring are all around you. The ice melting and falling from the trees, the trickle of water beneath the crunchy snow, the chirp of birds newly returned and looking for food.

You and your cousin Little Bear are walking through the forest to your mother’s maple hut. Many seasons ago her mother planted maple trees so that your family could make their own maple syrup. She built a small wigwam to stay in for the time it takes to tap the maple trees and make the syrup. It is to this stand of maples that you and Little Bear are heading, about half a day’s walk from your village.

The maple hut is far into the wilderness, away from the rivers where most people live and grow food. But this forest is not empty of people. The trail to the hut passes near hunting camps, fishing spots, and other places where people from the villages come to work when the snow melts.

Finally, after a long time walking, you see the large, majestic maples looming ahead of you, and you hear the thud of stone into wood. Your mother and eldest brother have come ahead of you to get the work started.

You watch your brother skillfully cut a notch in the tree with his axe and stick a small, grooved piece of bark into the notch. Your mother places wooden bowls and pots beneath the notches to catch the slow trickle of maple water that begins to drip down.

The sap that comes out of the tree is still very watery and not very sweet. Once a bowl or pot is full you help mother set it aside on the ground. You have heard from people who live elsewhere that they use hot rocks to boil the maple water until it becomes much sweeter, but mother says that is too difficult.

What she prefers to do is to leave the bowls and pots under the roof of the maple hut so that they freeze overnight. Every morning you help her scrape the ice away. She lets the maple sap freeze and scrapes away the ice for many nights in a row until she decides that it is concentrated and sweet enough. She then dries it into cakes that can be brought back to the village.

Your family is the only one in this village that makes maple syrup. It is a rare delicacy, but people do love it when they can get it! You like it best mixed with some toasted white corn mixed with dried cranberries. This is a great food to eat while you travel to your family’s fishing camp once the leaves are all out on the trees!

But that is some time off yet. For now you take a break and watch the sap drip steadily from the tree.

Work Study Profile: Kayley

Florida Sloth
Kayley in front of a giant sloth at the Southwest Florida Museum of History during a trip to Florida this Reading Week with family

My name is Kayley and I am a curatorial assistant here at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. I got the position as part of the work-study program with Western University. I also split my work-study hours with Sustainable Archaeology. I have worked at the museum since September, and have worked with Nicole since she returned as our full-time curator! I love working at the museum because I have no prior experience in a museum setting, only in cultural resource management archaeology (CRM). CRM is very different from museum work because most of the artifacts that I have experience with aren’t nearly as pretty as those that are in the museum’s collection.

So far at MOA I have learned so much about how museums work. I have been shadowing Nicole through her daily activities. A lot goes on behind the scenes here at MOA! Nicole and I have been going through artifact collections and putting them out in exhibits, plus finding additional background information on some artifacts for those exhibits. One example that always comes to mind was the day that we did research on, and weighed, iron cannon balls to see if they were equivalent to those used by the British during the War of 1812 for the current “War of 1812: The Chippewa Experience” exhibit. Unfortunately the cannonballs didn’t make the cut but the pipe tomahawks we researched did, there is still time to come and see them before the exhibit ends April 10th!

Another responsibility that I have taken on at MOA is working to organize the transfer of a large portion of the MOA collection over to Sustainable Archaeology. Sustainable Archaeology is the facility next door that houses archaeological collections from Ontario. The transfer started long before I began at MOA so it has been a fun and challenging experience to standardize the transfer.

I can’t recommend getting involved with MOA enough! I strongly believe that my experience at MOA was a contributing factor to my acceptance into a Master’s program in archaeology at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Burial Investigations

An excerpt from Before and After: A Test of the Reliability of Surface Assessments of Mortuary Features by Michael W. Spence. KEWA Newsletter of the London Chapter, Ontario Archaeological Society. November & December 2013. 13-7 & 8. Page 17-23.**

There is a long history of burial investigation in Ontario. At present the discovery of possible human remains triggers a sequence of procedures required by the Coroner’s Act, the Cemeteries Act (Revised) of 1990, and the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act of 2002 (see Carruthers 1999). The discovery must be reported to police and/or a coroner, who will initiate an investigation conducted by a forensic anthropologist. There are six individuals in Ontario currently approved to do these investigations. Each of us works with a Forensic Pathology Unit and a Supervising Coroner.

Forensic Excavation
Forensic Excavation – Image courtesy of Mike Spence (pictured bottom left)

The purpose of this initial investigation, done under the Coroner’s Act, is to determine if the remains are indeed human and, if so, whether they present a situation of forensic concern (if the person died within the last 50-60 years) to require a full forensic investigation. It is believed that this time span still allows the possibility of identifying the individual and, if criminal actions were involved, of bringing those responsible to justice.

The Cemeteries Act (Revised) and the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act set out the requirements for those investigations that are not forensic. These usually require the services of an archaeologist and, ideally, a bioarchaeologist or forensic anthropologist. Over the past several years a set of informal but generally accepted procedures have developed for the conduct of these investigations to gain the maximum amount of information with the minimal amount of disturbance to the remains.

The area immediately around the bones is cleared, without encroaching on them, to determine whether they are in disturbed topsoil, a man-made feature like a pit or grave, or some other context. The surface of the deposit will then be cleaned, taking care not to displace any bones that are still in situ.

If the investigation has been initiated by the coroner, this limited exposure should be enough to determine if the site is of forensic concern. The Cemeteries Registrar will want to know whether the find is an “irregular burial site” (unintentionally deposited human remains), an “unapproved cemetery” or an “unapproved Aboriginal Peoples cemetery.” As part of this, data on the “cultural affiliation of the deceased” and “the style and manner in which the remains are interred” are required (Ministry of Consumer Services 1998; Carruthers 1999).

First Nations, as would be expected, may have a wide variety of responses to such finds, affected in part by their cultural background, present-day social and political concerns, and the degree of threat to the find. A common theme underlying their reactions is the desire to minimize disturbance to the bones. Beyond that, however, some are interested in learning about the deceased individuals, either because they need particular information (like the gender of the deceased) to ensure appropriate rituals, or simply because they want to know more about their ancestors. Some believe that the discovery of ancient bones is not an accident, and that the ancestors have something that they want to communicate to their descendants.

The landowner usually wants just to resolve the matter with a minimum of bother and expense. The archaeologists, on the other hand, want to know everything about the find. However, their role is limited. They can offer advice but, beyond the initial probing, cannot excavate without the agreement of the landowner and whatever First Nation the Cemeteries Registrar has appointed to act on behalf of the deceased.


Mike Spence
Mike Spence in protective clothing at forensic site

Carruthers, Peter
1999 The Discovery of Human Remains – Best Practices. Arch Notes 4(2):10-13.

Ministry of Consumer Services
1998 The Discovery of Human Remains – Best Practices. Toronto.

Spence, Michael W.
2011a The Mortuary  Features of teh tillsonburg Village Site. Ontario Archaeology 91:3-20.

** Read the full article here.