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Learn from home – Endangered Animals

Have fun with Endangered Animals week by learning from home! Endangered Animals week at MOA brings with it a host of fun and educational games and activities that can be carried over from camp and into the home.


Food webs: Cut out pictures of animals in a specific ecosystem and connect them using string to demonstrate predator/prey relationships. This can teach children important ecological concepts such as niches, and help them understand the one species’ extinction can have on the other populations in its environment. Furthermore, these types of activities can be extended to teach children about bio-accumulation of pollutants, one of the reasons why so many predators near the tops of their food chains find themselves at risk of becoming endangered or extinct. Read more

The Wandering Museum Consultant…

Karolina (L) and Katie (R) at Dublin Museum Hunt
Karolina (L) and Katie (R) at Dublin Museum Hunt

Hello. I’m Katie Urban, MOA’s Learning Coordinator. It has been two months since I started my leave of absence from the Museum of Ontario Archaeology and started out on my equal parts crazy and awesome Wandering Museum Consultant project. The MOA has asked me to write a blog post to let everyone know what I have been up to and what I am still looking forward to in the next few weeks before I head back home in August.

So, what exactly is the Wandering Museum Consultant? Basically I am travelling around the UK and Ireland; spending time at host museums, volunteering and offering volunteer consulting when I can. In short I am engaging in professional exchanges and professional development, with an aim to building my international experience and consulting skills, as well as broadening my knowledge of museum practices through exposure to new and differing methods. Read more

Staff Only: Behind Scenes Part 1

“STAFF ONLY”:  Behind the Scenes at MOA Part 1

I am often amazed, when I sit back and think about it, how much goes on behind the scenes at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. 


 I like to compare museums to icebergs – in that what you see when you visit is just a tiny part of what is actually happening.  From working with the collection, researching exhibits, planning programs and events to the things we rarely consider as “museum work” but are critical to any business, like marketing, managing the finances, fundraising, and health and safety.  There is a lot happening at MOA that we want to share.

This blog series opens the “Staff Only” door to reveal what it takes to run a museum.  The planning, preparation, and work necessary to ensure we serve our community and, for us specifically, inspire the archaeologist in everyone.

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Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 5)

Wilfrid Jury’s Legacy

Wilfrid Jury was an important archaeologist in Ontario who helped us define and understand archaeological settlements across Ontario. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology is one of many legacies Wilfrid Jury leaves behind. His excavations and collections provide a fundamental understanding of aboriginal and pioneer culture. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology’s collection holds Jury’s original scholarly articles, site reports, short stories, and photos chronicling his life as well as the large ethnographic and archaeological collection he accumulated over his lifetime. His goal was to preserve objects of past generations for future generations to come. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology continues his legacy by advancing the understanding of Ontario’s archaeological heritage through stewardship, research, and education.


As well as curating the Museum of Indian Archaeology and Pioneer Life (now MOA) on Western’s campus (in June 1934), Wilf introduced Archaeology as a practice to Western. He taught an archaeology class and established field schools to give students hands on opportunities of learning at a number of sites he excavated through the years, a practice that continues to this day. Site reports, photos, and artifacts from these excavations are held in the Museum of Ontario Archaeology collections and are often referenced in current research. Read more

Endangered Animals Camp

Here at the museum, we like to draw from the native cultures of Canada and emphasize the importance of respecting our environment. Through programs such as our summer day camps, kids learn how our actions can disturb the delicate balancing act of the natural world and the importance of protecting it. In the past few decades, scientists have observed a rapid loss of biodiversity, with extinction rates estimated to more than 1000 times the natural extinction rate. Through the activities we do during Endangered Animals Camp, we hope to instill awareness and a sense of empathy for the plight of the animals around the world.


                Our trip across the globe starts in North America, the theme for Monday. We learn a lot of cool facts about polar bears, like how they slide on their belly to avoid breaking through thin ice (something there is a lot of with rapidly melting ice caps). The kids then get to make polar bear masks with cotton balls which are very fluffy and soft to touch! We also learn about bald eagles and make our very own. We do a scavenger hunt around the museum gallery where the campers get to identify and learn about other endangered animals of Canada. We finish off the last hour of camp when parents arrive by watching Ice Age! Read more

Soapstone Pendants

gorget: stone used in pendants
Gorget Approximately 300-1000 years old

Creative Workshop: Soapstone Pendant Making

Soapstone pendant making is a creative workshop offered at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology to compliment the understanding and appreciation for First Nation gorgets.

Gorgets are typically made from hard slate stone and are drilled to make into a necklace and personal ornamentation. They were made during leisure time as the slate takes a large amount of time and skill to shape (with an abrader/flat rock) and hand drill. Some even featured symbols and other markings.

During this 30 minute workshop, we have modified the tools but kept the traditional method the same. Instead of slate, students are each given a piece of soapstone, a soft rock which is easy to mould. Similar to the traditional method of creating a hole in the gorget, students can hand drill their own hole through their gorget by using an arrowhead attached to a wooden stick. Read more

Underwater Archaeology

Underwater Archaeology is one of the many hands-on workshops offered at Museum of Ontario Archaeology. This program explains how archaeologists use context and critical thinking while excavating in order to understand the site and to put together stories that artifacts may reveal about the culture of the site.

Underwater archaeology is more difficult than archaeology on land as you have to know how to dive, breathe under water, maneuver through dark or muddy waters, communicate to your team, avoid sharks (this is very important!), and write and record your findings while under water. You air tanks even limit the time you can spend excavating.

Instructions: Read more

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 4)

Wilfrid Jury’s Archaeological Work

St Ignace II

WIlfrid Jury at St Ignace II 1960
St Ignace II 1960

St Ignace II was one of several Jesuit Mission sites in Huron- Wendat territories during the mid 1600’s. In March of 1649, the Huron-Wendat village and Jesuit mission were attacked and captured by Five Nations Iroquois. Jesuit missionaries Brebeuf and Lalement from the nearby St.Louis mission were captured and taken back to St Ignace II and killed.  Wintemberg previously conducted excavations at St. Ignace II in 1937 and 1938 and continued actively on the site until his untimely death in 1941. Excavations halted both due to Wintembergs death and World War II. However the Jesuits appealed to Sherwood Fox, Present of the University of Western Ontario, to continue excavations on site. In 1946, with the assistance of President Fox and Wintembergs notes, Wilf resumed excavations which uncovered a structure he interpreted as a Jesuit church or chapel. Wilf also undertook partial reconstruction of the site, inolving a frame of the longhouse and segments of the palisade. For Wilf’s efforts, he received a blessing from Pope Pius XII in 1946.

Penetanguishine Read more

Behind the Scenes: Meet Kylie

My name is Kylie Kelly. I have been working as student assistant curator at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology since September 2013. I am fortunate that with my position I get to experience every aspect of the museum, from cataloguing artifacts, organizing exhibits, to assisting with the education programs. I am currently attending Western University for Classical and Medieval studies; I wish to pursue a career in Roman or Egyptian archaeology, specifically in museum and conservation, after I am done my undergrad. My passion for history is what initially drew me to work at the museum. I love everything old. Along with my love of history I am also of Native American descent, so working here has also given me a unique chance to see my own heritage and culture. Read more

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 3)

Archaeological Sites with Wilfrid Jury

Southwold Earthworks


Prior to 1935, few prehistoric Iroquoian village sites in Southern Ontario had been documented or excavated. From July- September 1935, Wilf conducted the major excavation at Southwold Earthworks, as assistant to renowned archaeologist W. Wintemberg.  They employed a crew of hired men with little excavation experience to complete the manual labor. Despite this limitation they were highly successful and became the first archaeologists to excavate and completely expose a number of longhouses on an Iroquoian village site. They were also the first to systematically map a set of Iroquoian earthworks and palisades. Read more