A Public Archaeology Day at Basin Depot, Algonquin Park
On Saturday 2009 October 03, The Friends of Bonnechere Parks and the Ottawa chapter of the Ontario Archaeology Society hosted a Public Archaeology Day at Basin Depot in Algonquin Park. This was part of a week-long investigation of the site under the direction of licensed archaeologist Ken Swayze, extending the work done in previous excavations during the 1990s. Some photos from the day are presented here.
2009 October 03
For more than a hundred years, Basin Depot was an important staging center for timber operations in what is now eastern Algonquin Park. In 1847, James McNaughton, surveying the (Little) Bonnechere River, noted four shanties already established at Basin Depot. The exact location of these shanties has not yet been determined. As early as 1852, several roads radiated from here to logging camps on the Madawaska River, the Petawawa River and the Barron River. By 1892 Basin Depot comprised a post office, boarding house, blacksmith shop, and outbuildings, with ten acres cleared and partially under crops (mostly potatoes). A small office that was constructed in 1892 is the building that still stands today. Basin Depot continued to be used for lumber operations as late as the 1950s.
To learn more of the history of Basin Depot and the Little Bonnechere River, see Spirits of the Little Bonnechere by Roderick MacKay, published by the Friends of Bonnechere Parks.
The tour we went on was supposed to last forty-five minutes, but ended up taking two hours due to the many questions asked and enthusiastic discussions about every aspect of the site and the archeological investigation. There certainly was never a dull moment. Once the tour was finished, we lingered to take photos, look at the displays, and talk with some of the people at the various exhibits. All in all, a very interesting and worthwhile day.
Please Don't Loot
Artifacts out of their original context provide little historical information.
Note that any archaeology or collection of artifacts anywhere in Ontario requires a license from the Ministry of Culture. This archaeological activity at Basin Depot also required the permission of Ontario Parks. Artifacts found during this excavation stay in the care of the park, in trust for the people of Ontario. If you should find an artifact, in Algonquin Park or any other park, you should leave it where you found it and make a sketch map of its exact location. You should then report the find to Park authorities. Note also that the operation of metal locators within Ontario parks is prohibited.