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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.


For over 20 years Wilf and Elsie put enormous effort in the excavation and reconstruction of the Penetanguishine Military and Naval establishments. Despite the extensive documentation in terms of archival research and archaeological data, Penetanguishine is one of the least understood. This may be in part from the lack of published reports. Today you may know this site as Discovery Harbour.


WIlfrid Jury at stmarie

St. Marie I

What began as a small excavation between four partially preserved stone bastions (Type of fortification) turned into a monumental discovery and one of the highlights of his career. During  fall 1947, workmen who previously worked with Wilf on St. Ignace II were partially restoring a stone bastion when they came across post moulds extending outwards. Father Lally, who was overseeing the site at the time contacted Wilf who wrote later that day;

“Little did I realize what the discovery meant nor did I realize

What the turn of events would lead to. Fate or fortune like the

Flip of a card was to place me in position to once again turn my studies

To the missionaries that as a boy I wanted to know more about.”

(Wilfrid Jury, Autobiography, 1972)

WIlfrid Jury meets the Pope

For four years, Wilf and Elsie continued excavations on the site 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.  Today the site is recognized through the Sainte Marie among the Hurons Museum.


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