Preserving and Promoting local history for the former Rideau Township
Log Fence

The digs provided a breadth of information that was surprising. First of all since 1976 over 190,000 artefacts have been collected from digs at almost all of the 21 lockstations. These artefacts yield information on diets, commercial trading routes, the general well being of the communities, and the backgrounds of the people operating the canal in the nineteenth century.

In the case of the Ottawa locks, the original blacksmith shop built under the Sapper’s bridge and footings from the bridge itself were found and the design of the restoration of the Plaza Bridge was altered to incorporate them.

The presentation also included a number of the artefacts from the Cornwell facility which further illustrated the living standard of the times and the resourcefulness of the people. A number of posters were also brought along to demonstrate the digs and archaeological works.

This was Rachel’s first presentation to a large group. It was well received and most of the attendees stayed on after to further discuss the subject and pass on congratulations to the speaker and her colleague Caroline Phillips.

Artifacts from lockstation sites

Example of a dig sight

Parks Canada
111 Water Street East
Cornwall
Ontario (K1A 0M5)
Web Site: http://parkscanada.pch.gc.ca/
E-Mail:john_witham@pch.gc.ca

Rachel Brooks

The subject of the presentation was the archaeological digs that have been carried out by Parks Canada along the Rideau Canal. In particular digs at the Burritts Rapids lock and the Newboro lock, and two digs at the Ottawa locks were discussed in detail with PowerPoint slides, of old & new, providing the visuals.

To set the scene Rachel presented an illustrated history of the development of Ottawa and the canal. The overview included the reasons for building the canal, the laying out of Bytown, the source, nationality and trades of the workmen who built the canal, and the immigration and settling of the areas along the canal.

This material provided a view of the development of Ottawa and the Rideau corridor that broadened our understanding of what drew people to settle and how they managed in the nineteenth century.

Display Board

Digging the Rideau

Presented by Rachel Brooks (Parks Canada)

Rideau Branch, Ottawa Archives, North Gower
March 19, 2008