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Lawson Site Changes: Part 1

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.

Small longhouse as it appeared in 2015.
Condition of small longhouse in 2015.

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.

Images of the small longhouse being dismantled and the final area after being cleaned up.
Dismantling the small longhouse and the final area cleaned up.

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 (


Bill Kennedy

We have been undergoing a similar revitalization at SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park in Dayton, Ohio. We are several years into rebuilding the entire village (very different type of architecture; thatched roofs and daub walls; more similar to southeastern native architecture than Great Lakes). We are currently rebuilding the largest structure in the village (shown in the linked video just before thatching began). All of our reconstructions are made entirely of natural materials, which is very challenging. I have no experience with bark or bent-pole construction as everything we do is rigid post and beam architecture, but would be happy to provide any guidance or advice if desired.


Thanks Bill,

The work you are doing at SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park is very interesting. Appreciate your offer and will be in touch in the future.


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