For the past number of years, visitors to the Lawson Site will have noted an ongoing state of deterioration. Over the years, weather, animals, and time have not been kind to the interpretive signs, gardens, and buildings. The process of remediating the site and developing an ongoing management plan are now underway and over the next few years, visitors will start to see ongoing improvements.
One of the first big changes at the Lawson Site was the removal of the small reconstructed longhouse adjacent to the forest. Originally built in 2002, the small longhouse helped illustrated the variation in house sizes at the Lawson Site but was closed to the public about 5 years ago when it became unsafe.
In 2015, the decision was made to dismantle the small longhouse, and thanks to a group of staff and volunteers the longhouse was removed at the beginning of the summer. The initial plan was to leave the main support posts to mark the original location of the longhouse but unfortunately, the posts were so badly deteriorated that they had to be completely removed.
With the small longhouse removed we turned our attention to the gardens, especially the large Three-sisters garden located by the longhouse. The Three-sisters garden is an important interpretive feature, but has always struggled to be successful because the deer and woodchucks have been particularly appreciative of the easily available and very tasty plants our volunteers have strived to grow. From an interpretive perspective, having the gardens inside the village is also problematic since the Three-sisters were grown in vast fields surrounding the Lawson Village and not within the site itself.
During the winter, plans were developed to move the Three-sisters garden to a location outside the palisade walls and with support from the City of London’s SPARKS grant, the new garden will be built this summer. Although the existing garden is being dismantled, we are taking care to ensure that two important perennials, the Sweet grass and Jerusalem artichoke are preserved. The sweet grass will be planted throughout the current garden area to keep the weeds at bay and the Jerusalem artichoke will be moved to a safe location until the new garden is ready to be planted.
In addition to the changes in the garden, the old signs are being removed this summer and a general clean-up of the site is under way, including removing any trees in the forest which have become unsafe due to age and disease.
We are also very excited about the archaeological field school being offered by the Department of Anthropology at Western University this spring. The course has been specifically designed to address the long term care of the Lawson Site. The plans for the field school and the work being undertaken will detailed in Lawson Site Changes: Part 2.
We’re excited about the changes being made at the Lawson Site and grateful to the volunteers who are helping us make these significant improvements. If you are interested in getting involved with this project, please check out the volunteer opportunities available or contact us at (email@example.com)