Public Archaeology in PEI
Islanders are proud of their heritage and can experience the past firsthand through our public archaeology programs. Recent archaeological excavations at sites such as Orwell Corner Historical Village and Roma at Three Rivers provide an opportunity for the public to work alongside archaeologists and learn about the archaeological process and Island history. Public archaeology promotes stewardship of cultural resources and makes archaeology accessible to society by providing the public with the means for engaging with their own past.
Sometime in the 1870s, a house was constructed on this half-acre parcel of land. Although nothing structural has been uncovered to date, archival research determined that it was a two-storey wooden structure with six rooms. Over a period of 60 years, the site was home to a number of families whose professions would have been typical of a rural community in PEI.
Thousands of artifacts have been excavated from this site ranging from structural items to every day household items. The excavations are led by Provincial Archaeologist Dr. Helen Kristmanson and a field crew.
The Malpeque Bay Archaeological Project
The Malpeque Bay Archaeological Project originated in 2008 with a shoreline survey of all the islands in the Bay including Hog Island, where several pre-contact archaeological sites were identified. Since then, excavations have focused on the Pitawelkek site, where diagnostic artifacts and radiocarbon dates have confirmed an Aboriginal presence for over one thousand years. Archaeological evidence shows that here the Mi’kmaq and their ancestors lived near the shore where they took winter flounder and other fish species, shellfish, seal and walrus. Archaeological research demonstrates that the Mi’kmaq were also present historically and current research is being conducted to explore evidence for trade with Acadian settlers.
The 2008 survey also identified another site, Pointe-aux-Vieux, an Acadian homestead dating between 1728 and 1758. Three years of excavations at this site, which was fast eroding into Malpeque Bay, produced thousands of artifacts including personal objects, architectural hardware, tools and the skeletal remains of over fifty species of bird, fish and sea and terrestrial mammals. The largest known archaeological faunal sample from this period, this showed that the Acadians kept livestock such as cows, pigs, chickens and goat and supplemented their diet with wild game such as shore birds, fish, and showshoe hare. In 2014-15, with funds from PEI 2014 and the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation, Dr. Kristmanson curated an exhibit at the Acadian Museum at Miscouche entitled Digging into the Past: An Archaeological Discovery in Malpeque Bay and has published several articles on the site in PEI’s Island Magazine.
Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat Office
Telephone: (902) 368-6463