Alberta’s New Heritage Marker – Raymond Stampede

Visitors to this year’s Raymond Stampede got to learn more about the fascinating history of the event with the installation of the latest Alberta Historical Resources Foundation heritage marker. The marker details the history of the event – the first of its kind held in Alberta – dating back to 1902, when prominent rancher Raymond Knight decided to organize a skills competition for local cowboys and ranch hands. The success of the Raymond Stampede inspired the organization of similar events across Alberta, with a growing range of events and prizes that attracted more and more competitors. Held in dozens of communities across the province each year, rodeos have long been significant cultural events in Alberta that strongly reflect its great agricultural heritage.

Raymond Stampede's new heritage marker.

Raymond Stampede’s new heritage marker.

The marker was installed on June 25, 2015 at the site of the Stampede in Raymond Knight Memorial Park. The Town of Raymond applied for the development of the heritage marker through the Alberta Heritage Markers Program. The program was established in 1955 to promote greater awareness of the historic people, places, events, and themes that have defined the character of our province. The program brings Alberta’s dynamic history alive through heritage markers placed at roadside pullouts, within parks, and in other community locales.

Written by: Allan Rowe, Historic Places Research Officer

By tracking the movement of obsidian, archaeologists can learn about how pre-contact people in Alberta moved, traded, and interacted across Western North America

Tracking Ancient Connections: The Alberta Obsidian Project

Obsidian is a natural glassy rock that was produced by volcanoes and used by pre-contact people across North America for making stone tools. Obsidian is the sharpest naturally occurring substance on earth, which made it ideal for making tools such as arrowheads and knives that were designed to slice animal flesh. Many obsidian tools have been found in Alberta despite the fact that there are no natural sources of it in the province. This means that obsidian was traded or carried into Alberta from long distances away. Research on obsidian tools at archaeological sites in Alberta has been conducted on a small scale since the late 1980’s. The current Alberta Obsidian Project (AOP) is the first large-scale attempt to analyse our province’s obsidian; it began in 2014 when a research plan was developed by members of the Archaeological Survey of Alberta, the Royal Alberta Museum, and the Center of Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) at the University of Georgia. (more…)

The Lost Islands of Upper Kananaskis Lake

In 1917, surveyor and mountaineer Arthur O. Wheeler of the Interprovincial Boundary Survey wrote that “in a valley surrounded by towering peaks, lies Upper Kananaskis Lake, a large sheet of deep-blue water of irregular shape, dotted with heavily-timbered islands.” The lake, as described by Wheeler, no longer exists, its shape has changed and its islands are mostly gone.

1914 photograph of Upper Kananaskis Lake

Upper Kananaskis Lake, 1914, showing the islands (LtoR) Cressy, Pegasus, Hawke, Hogue, Schooner and Aboukir. To compare this photograph alongside a 2007 photograph, go to http://explore.mountainlegacy.ca/historic_captures/1880/comparisons.
Mountain Legacy Project, WHE14-6. The Mountain Legacy Project is based at the School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC. For more information, go to mountainlegacy.ca, or email mntnlgcy@uvic.ca.

(more…)

Archaeological Survey Public Outreach and Research

HAS Slide 2014 edit

An important mandate of the Archaeological Survey section of the Historic Resources Management Branch is to undertake extra-regulatory public outreach projects and research initiatives. The staff at the Survey have been busy this last year pursuing this goal. Some of the projects and activities that have taken place, or are underway now, are highlighted below.

Part of this goal includes delivering programs that address Albertan’s desires to learn about their heritage and widen appreciation for Alberta’s archaeological resources. Youth outreach was done through the delivery of eight school programs to elementary and junior high school students. Darryl Bereziuk, Director of Archaeological Survey, and Blair First Rider, Aboriginal Consultation Adviser, presented to students at Leo Nickerson Elementary School in St. Albert; Todd Kristensen, Northern Archaeologist, presented to 6 classrooms as part of the U School Education Program at the University of Alberta; and Wendy Unfreed, Plains Archaeologist, participated in a youth apprenticeship field program for Dr. Swift Junior High School in Lac La Biche. (more…)

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day from the staff of Alberta Culture and Tourism's Historic Resources Management Branch!

Happy Canada Day from the staff of Alberta Culture and Tourism’s Historic Resources Management Branch!

Flint Knapping with the Archaeological Society of Alberta

The Archaeological Society of Alberta (ASA) is an amateur organization of over 400 members who are dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving Alberta’s heritage. The society regularly holds events that allow the public to actively experience archaeology in the province.

In March the Strathcona chapter of the ASA held a flint-knapping and tool-making workshop in Edmonton. The ASA workshop allowed members to get first-hand experience making the stone, or lithic, tools that are among the most common artifacts found in archaeological sites in Alberta. Prior to the arrival of metals with Europeans in North America, First Nations people created tools such as blades, knives, axes, and projectile points, by knapping stones. Knapping technology is not unique to Alberta, but was used by humans and our ancestors in all parts of the world beginning as early as 3.3 million years ago in Africa. Today many archaeologists practice knapping to better understand the material culture recovered from archaeological sites. Knapping is also a common hobby among archaeologists and non-archaeologists alike.

Creating Stone Tools

First, cores of lithic raw material are precisely broken using hammerstones (stones and antler) to produce large, flat flakes. At the workshop, participants knapped obsidian and dacite, two types of stone that are easy to use for beginners. When knapping, safety is always top priority. Striking stones such as obsidian produces tiny shards of the material, which tend to scatter and can easily cause injury. To prevent accidents, knappers use hand and eye protection, and always have plenty of bandages at the ready. The scattered waste flakes produced when knapping are called ‘debitage’ by archaeologists.

Photo 1

ASA participants using hammerstones to produce lithic (stone) flakes and debitage.

Next, smaller flakes of stone can be worked into tools. Instead of striking the stone, smaller flakes can be removed by applying consistent force in a process called pressure flaking. In the picture below, a knapper is using a copper pressure flaker to work the edge of a projectile point.

Photo 2

A knapper using a copper pressure flaker to work the edge of a projectile point.

Finally, the knappers were able to haft their new tools onto wood or antler shafts and handles. The stone tools were affixed into the wooden handles using pine pitch, and then fastened using animal sinew and hide glue. In archaeological sites the organic shafts, handles, and fastening materials have usually decayed, leaving only the stone tools behind.

Photo 3

Some of the tools created at the ASA Flint Knapping workshop

Becoming a good knapper takes a lot of patience and practice, and it helps to have a good teacher. If you are interested in learning how to knap stone tools, there will be two knapping events in Alberta this year in July and September.

Photo 4

Written by: Colleen Haukaas, Archaeological Permits & Digital Information Coordinator.

National Aboriginal Day 2015

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta/Sean Thonson

Photo Credit: Travel Alberta/Sean Thonson

Sunday, June 21 marks National Aboriginal Day—an opportunity to take time to learn, acknowledge and celebrate the rich contributions Canada’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit have made to our country. Officially proclaimed in 1996, National Aboriginal Day is now recognized nation-wide as part of a series of Celebrate Canada days.

If you live in Edmonton, APTN’s  Aboriginal Day Live & Celebration will be hosted in Louise McKinney Park on Saturday, June 20 and additional community events will be held throughout the week.

Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary’s theme this year is ‘Keeping the Circle Strong,’ with events taking place June 14 – 21. Additional events in Alberta are listed here.

Is your community hosting a National Aboriginal Day event? Share it with us in the comments below!

Written By: Laura Golebiowski, Aboriginal Consultation Advisor