Andrew Riddle (Partner at ASI), Waterdown

For millennia, the Grand River served as a highway for the First Nations people of Southern Ontario, connecting broad expanses of the Golden Horseshoe inland to Lake Erie. The banks of the Grand River have sometimes been characterized as one long archaeological site, and that proved to be true for a large property in Brant County that ASI has been working on for the last seven years. In all, we ended up documenting over 150 archaeological sites that range from 10,000-year-old campgrounds to nineteenth century homesteads.

The depth and breadth of the artifacts we uncovered is truly astonishing. The stone tools pictured above were collected from a single site, and represent over 8,000 years of serial occupation by Indigenous people. Located on a small rise by the river, this ideal camping spot revealed artifacts dating from the Middle Archaic to the Late Woodland periods – approximately 6000 BC to AD 1600. The varieties of stone used to make the above tools were not all locally available, thus serving as evidence of far-flung human mobility and extensive exchange networks that crisscrossed Ontario and into neighbouring states, facilitated in no small part by the movement of people and their belongings along the Grand River.

The work I have done along the Grand River has made the past come alive for me, and gave me a better appreciation for the rich and deep history of Indigenous peoples in Ontario.