ASI is the largest archaeological and cultural heritage consulting company in Ontario, Canada, with over 35 years experience in the production & dissemination of knowledge concerning our past. We offer an array of services, including research, planning, design and management of all types of cultural resources.
We put together a photo essay showing the wide variety of work we get up to on a daily basis, and what we love about doing heritage work in Ontario!
Our carpenter extraordinaire and Senior Archaeologist Andrew Clish just built these gorgeous new screens for the fall field season. The extra tall screens are built to improve the ergonomic situation for our taller field techs.
The first step of any archaeological work is the Stage 1 background study and property inspection. In this illustration, we layered the site plan from an urban Stage 4 excavation on top of the 1880 map that was found during the Stage 1 historical research. It fits perfectly!
Next, we move on to Stage 2, where an area that has potential is tested by a field survey. Here, a test pitting operation is underway in a beautiful woodlot.
Test pits and survey can also be necessary in urban areas, like this parkland! Field tech Keith MacKnight is digging deep to clean the bottom profile of this test pit.
After that hard work a beautiful lunch spot is well deserved! Field Director Robb Bhardwaj snapped this photo of his survey crew Keith Macknight, Tom Lally and Cat Machado enjoying the view at Niagara Falls.
Our archaeologists aren’t the only ones enjoying some beautiful views! Cultural Heritage Specialist Tara Jenkins is documenting a bridge for a Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report.
What’s the best place to see a bridge? From a canoe of course! It’s how we do stuff up in Canada.
Cultural Heritage Assistant Laura Wickett photographed this two-storey, red brick Gothic Revival style house built in 1872 during her cultural heritage fieldwork. The house is located close to a former Indigenous trail, which was used extensively for early travel and settlement in the Town of Pelham, Niagara Region.
Annie Veilleux, Manager of our Cultural Heritage Division, snapped this photo of Laura as they climbed up the Waterloo Pioneer Memorial Tower, a National Heritage site commemorating German heritage in Kitchener, Ontario. Kitchener was once known as Berlin, but the name was changed during World War One amid widespread anti-German sentiment. The tower was built in 1926 as a way to reaffirm the importance of German settlers in the area.
From the top of the tower you get a beautiful view stretching to the Grand River!
Back to our archaeological field crews! Once the Stage 2 has established that there is a site present, we use a Stage 3 to find out the extent and heritage value of a site. Field Director Poorya Kashani poses in his 1 metre test unit.
Once the Stage 3 has established the parameters of a site, we move onto Stage 4: Mitigation! Field Director Rachael Johnston is establishing the grid to begin excavation of a small Ancestral Huron-Wendat campsite in the Barrie area.
Further along in that project, we can see several 1 metre squares have been opened up by our Environmental Assessment crew. Since this is a Huron-Wendat site we have First Nations monitor Jaaka Lajeunesse working with us, he is helping with the screening in this photo.
We got some expert advice on this site from Senior Archaeologist Bruce Welsh, who we coaxed out of retirement to spend a few days in the field. Here, he is advising Rachael Johnston and Adam Barrett on excavating a feature.
That’s not the only Stage 4 we have currently underway, a large multi-component Indigenous site in Waterloo has been keeping us busy all summer. Not a bad view from the workplace!
It’s a beautiful day today, so Field Director Liz Matwey enjoys a creamsicle break with her crew.
Our field crews get up close with nature on a daily basis! Our Field Director Rachael Johnston snapped this gorgeous picture of a monarch caterpillar exploring our Project Manager Jes Lytle’s hand.
There’s a lot of monarchs this year! These friendly butterflies are investigating our Field Director Allan Jones’ field bag.
This little salamander was also snapped by Allan Jones, after it was rescued from one of our units.
After the artifacts leave the field they are brought to the lab where they are organized, washed and sorted. This beautiful screen of artifacts was photographed by Lab Tech Tessa Lehmann.
New details always emerge during the washing process, like the soft blue eye on this doll photographed by our Lab Tech and Admin Assistant Hannah Brouwers.
After the artifacts are washed and sorted, they are sent to our analysts who catalogue each one. Here, Danielle Bella is evaluating all the ceramics from a single historical unit.
After they are catalogued, our artifacts are passed on to our report writers, who do the final site analysis. Technical Writer Jamie Houston-Dickson took this report photo of a partial Judy puppet from the “Punch and Judy” show that originated in sixteenth century Italy, but became particularly popular in eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Britain. The puppet show involved a lot of slapstick fight scenes, proof that violence in entertainment is not a new concept!
And finally, when they have been fully analysed and reported on, collections get stored away. The boxes on the left are destined to be housed by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, as they were excavated as part of a highway expansion. Many of our collections do not have public institutions to take them in, one of the reasons we advocate so strongly for a central artifact repository for the City of Toronto.