April 6 Lab: Walking Tour
We began today at the Arboretum Office just south of Highway 19. We headed north and east, passing Kettle Hole to arrive at the remains of the old Waterford Mill on the south bank of the Cannon River. There, we saw what looked to be some concrete supports next to the riverbank and in the middle of the river. We also saw a large dead fish in the water and a small post-it note with “co-op 3828” written on it. I recovered the post-it as an artifact. From the Mill site we continued north-east, passing on the north side of Best Woods. We arrived at the northern corner of the Arboretum on Canada Avenue. From there we could see an old iron bridge across the Cannon, built in 1909 and retired in 2010 when a modern bridge was built slightly south of it.
Here we turned south, following Canada Avenue along the east side of the Arboretum land. We saw a dead raccoon on the road and a deer in the drainage ditch. We turned into the Arb after a while to locate the site of the Women’s League Cabin. The site is inside a small grove of trees bounded by the road to the east and cleared trails on the other three sides. After a little bit of poking around, we noticed a path leading into the grove. Following this, we arrived in a clearing where we found a pile of stones, perhaps 8 feet in diameter and 2 feet high. This, we understand, is what remains of the Cabin since it was demolished by the College to prevent unsanctioned use. A little ways off from the Cabin remains, we passed a man seated at the base of the tree drinking from a can. He was looking at a tree carved with the word “Lilly 🤍”. He seemed to be not more than 40 years old and did not speak to us.
We turned west here, back into the Arboretum. We walked west and south until we arrived again at Hwy 19 where we crossed into the Upper Arboretum. We headed south on Hall Avenue, skirting the eastern edge of the Arb and passing by the Twin Oaks Driving Range to the west. We then turned west, heading into the Arb to see the site of an archaeological survey conducted by the students from ARCN246 in 2019. Here we walked off-trail, cutting directly west across a grassy field. I was unshod at this point in the afternoon and was able to detect abundant thistle in this area. We passed south of the Hill of Three Oaks to arrive back at the Recreation Center. At this point, our tour was finished and most group members split off to get showered and start on homework.
I was impressed on our tour by the afterlives of the sites we visited. It looked as if someone had been fishing by the old Mill site and the Cabin site also showed signs of continued use. Additionally, each site was located near a trail or road. To me, this indicates a curious resonance of past locations, that the paths we use should still correspond to old significances.
April 13 Lab: Snowy Survey
Today we began our search for artifacts. The method we adopted was the archaeological survey, in which our surveyors walk across an area systematically looking for surface-level finds. This method is essential before any excavation can begin, and is increasingly being used independently to understand regional patterns.
Before our survey, we used Google Earth satellite images and LiDAR scans to better understand our target area (in this case, the Upper Arb). These images allowed us to pinpoint a field where there looked to be traces of a building. With this in mind, we set out. Before beginning our survey, each student paced out 10 metres, allowing us to quickly estimate walking distances across the field. We then divided into two groups and spread ourselves 10 metres apart in a line stretching across the west side of the field, standing with our backs to Spring Creek Road. We slowly walked east, keeping in lines, called transects, and scanned the ground for surface features. Group A, containing 6 surveyors, covered a unit of land extending 60 metres in width, from north to south, and 100 metres in length. Group B contained 5 surveyors and therefore extended 50 metres. This was repeated twice, covering the field in 6 gridded squares.
Conditions were less than ideal. Ground visibility was very low, owing to long, thick grasses that covered the field. These grasses had matted together to cover the ground, obscuring anything lying below them. Additionally, we experienced driving snow, which made thorough investigation of the field more difficult.
The survey finds confirmed our intuitions from the LiDAR data. The great majority of our finds, consisting mostly of bricks and concrete, were in unit A01, in the northeast corner of the field; this is where we had guessed that there was a previously existing structure. Our results, if a little underwhelming, show clear evidence of past interaction with the landscape.