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Museum Secrets

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EXPLORE OUR SECRETS!

These are just some of the things you can explore at MOA.  Check out our secrets and visit www.londonsecrets.ca to learn more about other London museum secrets.

 1.  Up to 2000 people lived in the Lawson Village during the 16th century.

Lawson Village, Ontario Canada

The Lawson Village, a 16th century ancestral village, is one of only a few sites in Southern Ontario where earthworks are preserved. Outside the palisade walls that protected the site, fields containing the Three Sisters extended out over four kilometers to the Masonville area in London. The site was believed to be occupied for approximately 25 years.

Excavations have recovered over 300,000 artifacts and the remains of at least 19 longhouses, 30 middens, and a palisade along the northern half of the site. Evidence suggests that at the height of occupation, the village was potentially home to over 2000 people. It was occupied year round, but many of its inhabitants left the village from April to December to engage in hunting, fishing, gathering, and the cultivation of the fields.

2. Despite being “discovered” in the 1850s, the first scientific excavations at the Lawson Village didn’t begin until the 1920s.

Wilf at Fairfield c.1940s
Wilf at Fairfield c.1940s

The Lawson Site was first extensively excavated by archaeologist William Wintemberg in the early 1920s, although the site had been known to locals since the 1850s. Some of the earliest recorded discoveries included 10 pipes, 60 bone needles, 100 bone beads, 12 abraders, and 150 projectile points.

The importance of the Lawson Site was first realized in the late nineteenth century by Dr. Solon Woolverton, a geology professor at the University of Western Ontario and a prominent London citizen. In 1894, Solon introduced the site to the Provincial Museum archaeologist, Dr. David Boyle, who undertook excavations from 1895-1920 and produced the first formal description of the site. His successor, Dr. Rowland B. Orr, visited the site in 1917 and subsequently published an article including a sketched map. Dr. William J. Wintemberg of the Victoria Museum in Ottawa (now the Canadian Museum of History) selected the Lawson Site for major fieldwork projects from 1921 to 1923.

MOA’s founder, Wilfrid Jury, met William Wintemburg at the Lawson Site in 1921. Wilfrid continued to excavate the site on his own in the 1930s and 40s. In total, less than 20% of the site has been excavated.

3. “Cold Tea” is a tradition started by Wilfrid Jury.

Wilifrid Jury Office

During the prohibition era alcohol was not allowed, so Wilfrid Jury discreetly enjoyed his scotch in dainty tea cups over pleasant conversation and company of his friends, collegues, and students in his office at the University.

In days of old, demon rum, and in fact alcohol of any kind (except in the chemistry lab), was regarded as a commodity too dangerous to be consumed on campus. The only exceptions were the Old Hunt Club (now Westminster College) and at meetings of the Board of Governors. Members of the teaching faculty should not have been able to afford it and even if they could, they would be totally irresponsible about it. Students were expected to confine their activities to the local bar, The Ceeps.

At the end of the fall term the irrepressible and iconoclastic Wilfrid Jury would invite some of the people he found compatible to his office for tea since there was no proscription against it. It must be remembered that Wilfrid, following the footsteps of his father, who was a personal friend of Sir John A. Macdonald, was by no means an abstainer

No time was ever mentioned because everyone knew that four o’clock is tea time. If you arrived late, you were scolded. Tea was served from an old brown betty tea pot, into a collection of mixed pattern tea cups. Some were cracked, some had handles, all were supplied with saucers. The brown liquid which came from the pot was cold, because it was, in fact, Seagram’s 83. The hot water jug and the cream pitcher contained water. No one was so impolite as to complain about the brand of “tea.” In addition, biscuits (often chocolate chip) were served with the “tea”. Somehow the tea got stronger as the time progressed, but it never ran out.

4.  The significance of finding mica at the Lawson Site

Mica

The Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe communities of this area engaged in trade or other forms of interaction with other cultural groups along the Atlantic Seaboard, Lake Superior, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Mica demonstrates the interaction and trade of the Hopewell culture of Ohio with other cultures to the east. Mica was used for personal adornment, temper in pottery, as a type of mirror, and for spiritual purposes.

5.  Why the reconstructed longhouse on the Lawson Site looks different from examples found in the museum’s gallery.

elm bark longhouse
Longhouse

The reconstructed longhouse on the Lawson site is more typical of those found in Northern Ontario because of its birch bark covering. In Southwestern Ontario it was more common for longhouses to be covered with elm bark.

Larry McLeod, a Sagamok First Nation member and Ojibway elder from North Bay, completed the most recent repairs in 2013 with a team of eight others. They brought in materials — tamarack poles, birch bark and spruce roots — from Northern Ontario.

6.  Games you can play with these bones.

Deerphlanges

These are deer phalanges, found on the Lawson Site, believed to possibly have been used for a cup and pin game.

There are two main types of modified deer phalanges:

a) a hole through the distal end with the proximal end broken off for a cup and pin game

b) distal end bead: a bead made from only the distal end of the phalanges (quite exclusive to pre-contact sites in Southwestern Ontario)

7.  Why archaeologists use water to find tiny artifacts.

The Flotation technique in archaeology uses water to process soil samples and recover small artifacts that would not ordinarily be recovered when screening soil during an archaeological investigation. The reason these artifacts aren’t normally recovered is that they are so tiny that they fall through the ¼” screen typically used by archaeologists to sift the soil.

Flotation 5
Jury_Day_2009 (4)
Flotation 1b


To recover tiny artifacts, a soil sample is placed on a screen, and with the addition of water, artifacts are separate from the dirt particles. Light materials (called light fraction) float on top of the water while heaver materials such as bone, pottery, and stone rest on the screen. Light materials include plant remains, seeds, and insects which can reveal information about diet, environment, and climate.

Heavy and light materials are collected separately and placed on a tray to dry. Once the sample has thoroughly dried, the material is placed in archival bags for storage and further research.

8.  People have been living in the London area for over 11,000 years.

People first started living in the London area in 11,000 BCE (before common era) during a time known as the Paleo-lithic Period. People lived in small family groups (3-5) who travelled and hunted together. This is because of the climate at the time. The Palaeo-lithic period began during the end of the last Ice Age, so the climate was much colder than today and it would have been winter all year long. Paleo communities ate Caribou almost exclusively, and as a result adopted a very nomadic lifestyle following the caribou herds. In addition to Caribou, early Paleo communities may have also hunted the Mastodon, which is similar to a woolly mammoth, but slightly smaller in size.

9.  You can experience Virtual Reality at MOA.

Developed by Western University PhD candidate Michael Carter as an aspect of his dissertation research, the exhibit combines the interpretation of archaeological evidence and ethno-historic records with modern methods of CGI and virtual reality production. Take a virtual walk through a 16th century Iroquoian longhouse wearing HTC Vive virtual reality goggles and explore life in a longhouse with a blazing cooking fire, sleeping bunks strewn with furs, and stored foods hanging from the rafters.

 

 

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 Camp in August. Read more

Wilfrid Jury’s Christmas 1898

Jury family farmhouse
Jury family farmhouse

A Farm Boy’s Christmas, 1898

Written by Wilfrid Jury

The Christmas spirit started in November with practice on Tuesday and Friday night at the church for the Sunday school concert, one of the highlights of going to Sunday school. If you could sing or play the mouth organ, [jaw] harp or tin whistle, fine – otherwise you took part in a dialogue or gave a recitation. If you were lucky you got a ride there in a buggy, more often walked, hoping it would snow so you could get the cutter out soon. Skating wasn’t possible until Christmas, if you were lucky enough to have it cold enough by then to freeze the pond.

After the Sunday school concert Christmas preparations were in full swing. The house took on the Christmas smell – mince meat being prepared, the plum pudding mixed (everyone took turns stirring it) seeding raisins, shelling nuts, polishing cutlery. Getting the house straightened up for the big event.

Then came the Saturday before Christmas when all of us went to London. Read more

Jury’s Life on the Farm

Excerpt of Annual Cycle of Life on the Farm as a Boy

Written by Wilfrid Jury February 24, 1967

I remember potato digging, in fact all the fall work, as father used to go out west on the harvester excursion.

Wilf Child
Wilfrid Jury and his sister Irene as children in Lobo, Ontario.

When I was fourteen he left mother and I to cope with it. Looking back I wonder how we did it. That finished my schooling but it gave me confidence. There was no time to get into mischief. Up at the break of day work until sundown. Mother and I carried on. When dad returned everything was in ship shape and we were proud of the words of praise. I usually had a day off to go squirrel shooting before Dad went up to Port Franks duck shooting for two weeks. Later he went deer hunting. The drive to the Port in the democrat was a long one, leaving home at 5am and getting there before dinner at George Hurdon’s, the proprietor of Waverly Hotel. After the horse had a good feed I’d start home. The horse knew the way; I didn’t. I got home in time to help milk. Then on a Saturday, two weeks later, I went up and got dad and his friend Jim. They had shot a barrel of ducks. We had wild duck off and on all winter.

Each year Dad would come home with one or two Indian relics that he had picked up in the sand hills around Port Franks. On his return from shooting, I’d usually have the fall ploughing started. We always summer-fallowed a large field. Other fields had to be ridged so they would dry out early in the spring, enabling us to have an early seeding. There was a long open ditch that ran through the pasture field to the swamp, this ditch carried off the water from all the drains of the entire farm. Through the spring and summer the cattle drank out of it. They also tramped on the side wall. It was a fall job to open this with rubber boots, a long handled shovel and a lot of hard work. This annual job was completed. Read more

From the Archives: Real Photo Postcards

Real Photo Postcards 1899-1930s

Real Post Card and Cabinet card-2
Real Post Card and Cabinet card-3

MOA has a vast collection of hundreds of Jury Family personal photographs beginning in the 1890’s and ending in the 1960’s. Within the collection we see the unique shift of photography during the early 1900s, especially with the introduction of the real photo postcard.

The real photo postcard began after the development of the dry plate process and roll film in the 1880s. The introduction of roll film was integral to the shift of professional photography allowing for photos to be created by the ‘common man’. Many companies opened during this time in order to supply the public’s demand which in turn depressed the entire market. George Eastman, the man most responsible for the real photo postcard decided in order to survive the highly competitive market, he needed to create something unique. He created the new camera system Kodak with a highly recognized marketing campaign; you press the button, we do the rest.

Real Post Card and Cabinet card-4

Read more

Who is Wilfrid Jury, the man behind the collection

Dear Readers,

Wilfrid Jury and Friend

During my internship here at MOA, I decided to dive into Wilfred Jury’s personal records, reflections, and photos in order to gain an in depth knowledge of the man. After creating a search base for all of the records left through both his estate and through years of collection by our previous directors, I decided to put my search aid to use and share my experience.

What I thought would be a tedious endeavor became one of intrigue. Elsie Jury puts it eloquently enough,

“[Wilfrid Jury has a] leprechaun or whimsy quality. Pranks, shenanigans, ‘never a dull or idle moment’ for those who have worked with him.”

Read more

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.

summerschool

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

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

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 3)

Archaeological Sites with Wilfrid Jury

Southwold Earthworks

southwold

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

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 2)

Wilfrid Jury’s adventures as a young man began in 1914, when he joined the navy. He first served as a recruiting officer in London, Ontario, then became a billeting officer in Montreal and Quebec City. Next he became special messenger to Commander Wyatt at Admiralty House in Halifax. On December 6th, 1917 tragedy struck Halifax Bay when the Belgian Steamer IMO and French Steamship MONT BLANC collided, which resulted in a massive explosion and over 1000 deaths. Within the chaos and confusion of the blast, the Navy sent word to Amos and Julia that their beloved son was missing and presumed dead. Fortunately, Wilf who was severely injured, washed ashore  and was taken in by a kind Darthmouth family who had nursed him back to health. In January of 1918, after being hospitalized for his injuries, Wilf returned to limited duties as an able seaman on the NIOBE, but, less than 6 months later, he contracted tuberculosis and was discharged from the Navy for Medical reasons. He was awarded the War Service Medal and the British War Medal for his service. Read more