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Save Our Rideau
Research and Archaeology

Graded F

Long before Parks Canada "surplused" much of their research and archaeological staff (for the entire Parks Canada Agency) in 2012, this type of work had ceased on the Rideau Canal. It wasn't because this type of work wasn't needed anymore, it seemed to be a shift in emphasis by Parks Canada away from research and science. The retiring head of terrestrial archaeology for Eastern Ontario, in a talk in 2007, lamented that she hadn't been able to do any archaeological work that wasn't directly related to a management need (i.e. making a new parking lot) for the last 10 year even though there are many sites on the Rideau deserving of such attention.

There are many gaps in the history of the Rideau Canal, Jones Falls is perhaps one of the best examples. While detailed research reports have been written by Parks Canada historians about Kingston Mills and Smiths Falls, no such high quality research report has ever been done for Jones Falls (or other significant sites such as Merrickville, Long Island and Ottawa). While detailed archaeological investigations have been done in some selected area (i.e. Newboro), none has been done at Jones Falls (or at most other lockstations). Sites such as the old lock construction camp, the dam construction camp and the Officer's Quarters at Jones Falls have never been archaeologically investigated.

A large underwater archaeology program was run in the early 2000s, but it was done solely for management reasons, to be able to have the information in a GIS system that would speed up the permitting process (which requires archaeological clearances). The work that was done was excellent, but several spots were missed due to the speed of the program. One of the most significant spots, an old mill dam that was used as a coffer dam during the construction of the canal, which remains mostly intact under 10 feet of water - has never received any archaeological work, even though it is a Level 1 (directly related to the construction of the canal) heritage asset.

The indigenous people's use of the canal system also has not had any research or archaeology done by Parks Canada (some work by external people/organizations was done many years ago). That's a story that should be told, but it will require research and archaeology to be done properly.

Unfortunately Parks Canada doesn't even have the capacity today to begin the process. Certainly upper level management, who have been turning Parks Canada into a simple tourism agency, don't understand the value of research and science.

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© 2012- Ken W. Watson