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March Break Adventure 2016

March Break Adventure Location South America

Is your Young Explorer looking for a March Break Adventure?

A March Break Adventure is closer than you think at MOA’s Adventure through South America camp being offered from March 14-18, 2016.  Campers will explore the people, environment, and animals of South America as they stamp their ‘passport’ with days of exploration!

March Break starts on Monday with a Welcome to South America party where we will explore the countries and geography of the region while playing some great games.  On Tuesday, we’ll be checking out South America’s Food and Culture!  Not only will our Explorers learn about South America foods, they will also become farmers and plant their own bean crop.  We’ll be watching our beans grow throughout the week before our Explorers take their plants home.

Animals to discover on the March Break Adventure - Monkey

On Wednesday we are moving into the trees for a Tree Top Adventure in the rainforests.  Did you know that the Amazon Rainforest, also known as the Amazon Jungle, is the largest rainforest on earth, covers 40% of the South American continent, and is home to over 2000 different animals!  We will be doing a lot of exploring this day.

Celebrate with friends during the March Break Adventure

Thursday is Archaeology Day! and we will have a lot of ground to cover as we explore Macchu Picchu in the mountain tops of Peru before going underground into the network of tombs found at  Tierradentro near the south west coast of Colombia.  We definitely won’t want to miss Serra de Capivara in Brazil where you can find cave paintings that are more than 25,000 years old!

Friday is our favourite day because we get to have a pizza lunch with all our new friends! And we will learn all about The People of South America: Past and Present.

Explorer’s will want to bring two snacks and a lunch (peanut free!), a water bottle, indoor shoes, and outdoor gear (like boots, a coat, mittens, a hat) for when we play outside.


Programs - camp (2)

A typical camp day includes warm up activities, team and friendship building exercises, crafts and games related to each day’s theme, two snack breaks and one lunch break, outdoor fun and exploration of the site around the Museum, and a video at the end of the day (while we wait for parents).  Camp begins at 8:30 every day and parents can drop off their kids as early as 8:15. We’ll play small group games, colour some amazing artwork, and free play with friends until 9:00 am.  Camp ends at 4:30 every day and the latest time for pick up is 4:45. Camp kids will be watching a movie in our theatre space when it’s time for pick up. Please remember to sign out your child and bring photo ID with you!

How to Register for the March Break Adventure

Register for the whole week or a couple of days. Combine March Break with upcoming Summer Camp weeks for multi-week discounts!

Family Day 2016

Family Day 2016 new

Since the first Family Day was observed on February 18, 2008, many Ontarians have enjoyed taking advantage of the holiday to spend time with their family and explore their communities.  Family Day 2016 falls on February 15th and you don’t have to look any further than MOA for something fun to do as we continue our tradition of hosting a Family Fun Day filled with wonderful indoor family activities.


Families will be able to listen to and share stories with Mi’kmaq storyteller Nina Antoine-Ogilvie as well as explore and shop at First Nation’s Craft Vendors throughout the day!  Children can discover the secrets to archaeological digs by uncovering and mapping chocolate chips in our Cookie excavation and explore the importance of First Nation’s Wampum as a means of communication through our wampum activity.

In the morning, Dr. Chris Ellis from Western University will be on hand to identify artifacts and Dana Poulton, Archaeologist and President of D.R. Poulton and Associates (a key contributor to our Changing Landscapes exhibition in the temporary gallery) will share London’s rich archaeological heritage and his experiences excavating Victoria Park in the afternoon.

Hugh Henry

We are also excited to be hosting a Medicine Wheel Teachings and Art Workshop facilitated by Hugh Hill, Laka’tos, from the Oneida Nation on Family Day. Mr. Hill will share the teachings he has learned from the elders. Teachings he continues to learn and pass along.

The Medicine Wheel represents all creation, harmony and connections.  Come and learn about the teachings and significance of the Medicine Wheel in Aboriginal culture in this interactive and family fun workshop.  Participant will paint their own Medicine Wheel art piece to take home.

So put on your warm woolies, gather up your family, and join us this Family Day.


 On-going Activities

  • Storytelling with Nina Antoine-Ogilvie
  • Cookie Excavations
  • Wampum Activity
  • First Nation Craft Vendors

Scheduled Activities

  • 10:00 – 1:00    Artifact Identification with Dr. Chris Ellis
  • 1:30 – 3:30      London Archaeology with Dana Poulton

Medicine Wheel Workshop

Cost: $15 for adults and $13 for youth (5-17 years old) and includes admission to the museum.
Times:  11:00-12:00 and 2:00-3:00

To register for the workshop, or for more information about the event, please contact the museum by phone at 519-473-1360 or email

Regular admission applies.

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

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.

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.  Built 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.

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:

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.


What is a longhouse

longhouse MOA

Longhouses were built with a frame of saplings supported by large posts in the house interior, typical longhouses were covered with sheets of bark such as elm bark and birch. Openings at either end were used as doors, while openings in the roof acted like chimneys, letting the smoke from the fires out. Fireplaces or hearths were spaced down the length of a central corridor in the house (an average of 1-6 fires), and were flanked with two platforms: the lower for sleeping, and the upper for food and storage.

The historic record shows that each hearth was shared by two families; one family lived on either side of the longhouse. On average, families had six to eight members. A medium sized longhouse like the one reconstructed at the Lawson site, would have been occupied by 38-40 people, all related through the female line. When a couple got married, the husband would move into his wife’s family longhouse.


What is a Longhouse display
What is a Longhouse display, MOA permanent gallery
longhouse interior

A very large portion of the longhouse was used for storage. The upper platforms would have been filled with personal possessions and a variety of food supplies such as strings of corn, dried and/or smoked fish and meat. As well, there were cubicles at the ends of the houses for storage of firewood and large pits were dug under the bunk lines for further storage of foodstuffs.

In the winter months, the longhouse was the focal point of village life. Tools and other personal items were made and repaired; stories and folklore were passed on from one generation to the next and numerous social and ritual events were held. In the summer months a large portion of the inhabitants lived away from the village itself, maintaining nearby fields of corn, beans and squash.

How did archaeologists know where a longhouse used to be? Small dark brown circles or stains in the ground, called post moulds indicated where the large structural poles were erected. Archaeologists look for these signs to determine the size and location of villages (such as the one found on the Lawson Site at MOA).

As part of your visit to the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, you can go into the reconstructed longhouse to experience life in a longhouse 500 years ago. Our educational programming is further hands on with storytelling, legends, bannock over the fire, and even cooking Three Sisters soup in the longhouse.

Journey Across Canada Camp

For this week’s summer camp theme, the campers will embark on a journey across Canada starting from the West Coast.

On Monday, we will learn all about Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia, and explore this beautiful, mountainous area replete with sparkling lakes and volcanoes. Since northern BC is rich in Aboriginal culture and home to several ancient village sites, the kids will also be crafting their very own miniature totem poles. They will get a chance to practice the symbolism commonly used in Aboriginal culture and choose animal totems that they believe best represent them. There are various cool symbols such as horses for freedom, a sun for energy, and wolves for leadership. Another cool activity for this day will be examining ancient woodland art, and striving to replicate the styles and imagery with our own woodland paintings.


Tuesday is when the campers will travel eastbound into the flat land of the Prairies. Consisting of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, this region is also known as Canada’s “bread basket” as the Prairies are a major source of wheat for Canadians. We will largely focus on the furry residents of the Prairies, such as the prairie dog, owl, fox, and bison. The kids will have the opportunity to learn more about the prairie food chain through a fun, interactive game, and even construct their own prairie dog as a craft.

Continuing our expedition across Canada, Wednesday is dedicated to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The campers will brush up on the main landmarks of Ontario such as the CN Tower, Giant Nickel, and Niagara Falls, being that it is our home province. Then as we trek to Quebec, we will learn about the many exciting events that happen during the “Carnaval de Quebec”, such as ice sculpture contests, canoe races, and masquerades. As per this Quebecois tradition, the kids will also design their own masks to be used in an activity later on in the week.


On Thursday, the campers will journey to the Maritimes, which is a group of provinces residing along Canada’s eastern shores. While we learn about their seafood diets and tour around the hundreds of lighthouses located in the Maritimes, the campers will piece together their own stained glass lighthouses with coloured tissue paper. If they shine a light through their lighthouse in the dark, they will be able to see all the colourful lights they used! An additional craft for this day is building sea creature themed puppets since the Maritimes is surrounded by large bodies of water.

We will be ending our adventure in the territories of northern Canada, also known as the Great White North. On Friday, the campers will explore the icy tundra and its inhabitants, as well as build their own arctic igloos out of marshmallows. They will also be able to assemble a miniature inukshuk, much like the ones built by northern aboriginal communities, with small stones which a counsellor will hot glue together. Furthermore, since Fridays are our camp’s designated Quest Day, the campers will be divided into small groups to complete Canada-related “quests”. Some of them include searching for baking soda and vinegar to mix into a BC volcano, completing an obstacle course in the Prairies, fishing in the Maritimes, and finding images of famous Ontarian landmarks. As the counsellors here at the camp love to conclude the week with a fun recap of everything the campers learned along the way, we do our best to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves.