Ceramic Artifacts

Ceramic production in Ontario has occurred for over 2,000 years. There’s a lot of variety, and sometimes it might be hard to tell what’s ceramic and what’s not.


900 BCE to 1610 CE

This period is characterized by the construction of ceramic vessels using hand building techniques. Earlier vessels used the coiling method, where long coils of clay are layered and smoothed to build up the walls of the vessel. Later artisans used a paddle and anvil technique to shape the vessels. Hand-building techniques such as pinching and moulding were also employed, especially for smaller vessels and figurines. Ceramic products were usually pit fired.

The vessels from this period often include incised or stamped motifs. Decorative elements also include geometric patterns, animal motifs, and representations of human figures.


1610 CE to 1790 CE

This period features a wide variety of ceramics being produced. Indigenous nations were continuing to produce traditional ceramics, but European influence soon seeped into ceramic production.

European ceramics common to Ontario in this period are white earthenware vessels, blue and white transferware, and creamware and pearlware. Various objects were produced beyond vessels, including pipes and ceramic building materials, such as brick. These ceramics were usually made by wheel throwing, use of ceramic moulds, and kiln firing.