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Can You Dig It? Ontario Archaeology Program Stimulates Interest In Local History

May 02, 2012



For Immediate Distribution

(Toronto-May 2) - New programs offered to GTA youth are stimulating an increased interest in the often overlooked cultural heritage of Toronto area neighbourhoods. Hosted by the Toronto and Region Conservation's (TRCA) Archaeology Unit, these programs consist of a variety of cultural education sessions and archaeological excavations throughout the GTA where youth get an opportunity to have an active role alongside researchers and professional archaeologists.

"Typically, when people think of Toronto, they picture skyscrapers, subways and asphalt. However, the GTA has a very rich history, as seen through the archaeological record," says Cathy Crinnion, Lead Archaeologist for Toronto and Region Conservation. "By conducting these educational excavations, we are not only discovering more about our past, but also reminding people that our city has very deep roots. Students learn to envision past peoples, past environments and how their neighbourhood has changed through time, and to appreciate the amazing array of natural resources that have attracted people to the area for millennia."

One of these programs will include an investigation of the Lost Brant site in Richmond Hill, by a group of 11 to 17 year-old students from Durham Catholic schools. In the headwaters of the Humber River on the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Lost Brant site is located between two kettle lakes and served as nature's grocery store for Indigenous groups for many thousands of years before European settlers were attracted to the area. The excavation site contains evidence of people's campsites and activity areas from as far back as 10,000 years ago, and has produced hundreds of artifacts and new data on the inhabitants. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the month of May, students will be actively taking part in this 'classroom without walls', which will include activities like finding artifacts and mapping evidence of ancient activity areas at the site. Each student will experience a day of fieldwork on the site, which will give them a taste for the TRCA's Boyd Archaeological Field School, a full-credit summer course available to teens in grades 10 to 12.

The Boyd Archaeological Field School, offered in August at the Claremont Field Centre in Durham Region, includes a full two weeks of study and field work, and provides students with a full grade 12 credit upon completion. Artifacts found during this year's course will be added to the approximately 1.2 million already uncovered by students and the Toronto and Region Conservation in similar sites across the GTA.

"The field school is a rare opportunity for high school students to participate in archeological field work, to learn how science is conducted both in the field and the laboratory, and to experience, both individually and through team effort, the joy of discovering new knowledge," explains Dr. Peter Storck, author and curator emeritus from the Royal Ontario Museum who is an honoured guest expert at the course.

The summer session runs for two weeks in late August, appealing to students who want to fit the educational experience in with other work or travel plans in the summer. The course schedule has been updated for 2012 with a comprehensive introduction to consulting archaeological techniques for finding new sites as well as research and excavation of a known site. Students are immersed in field and hands-on experimental archaeology which provides an engaging and challenging learning environment.

Placement in the full-credit course is awarded on a first-come first-serve basis and space is limited, so early registration is recommended prior to the application deadline on June 3.  The cost of the program is $1,995 for Ontario students and $2,495 for out-of-province and international students, with limited bursaries available.

For more information about these programs, the Boyd Archaeological Field School, or to register, please see and follow us @TRCAarchaeology

Toronto and Region Conservation

With over 50 years of experience, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) helps people understand, enjoy and look-after the natural environment. Our vision is for The Living City®, where human settlement can flourish forever as part of nature's beauty and diversity.  For more information, call 416-661-6600 or visit us at


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Media contact:

Elizabeth Oakley
Tel: 416-661-6600 ext 5856

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