Archaeological Mitigation

The Fossil Hill Group conducts all Stages (1 - 4) of Archaeological Assessment province wide. Our Archaeologists, Associates and Technical Field Crews are experienced in archaeological survey and reconnaissance, non-intrusive subsurface detection, excavation, data processing & analysis, interpretation and report generation. Archaeological Assessments result from directives under Provincial or Federal law such as the Ontario Heritage Act (R.S.O. 1990), the Ontario Cemeteries Act (Consolidated), the Planning Act (R.S.O. 1990 C.13) and the Environmental Assessment Act (R.S.O. 1990)

Stage One Archaeological Assessment

Stage One Archaeological Assessment consists of historical and archival research on a subject property for the purposes determining the potential for heritage resources such as historic buildings, subsurface deposits, cemeteries or cultural landscapes. This research consists of a property inspection, a survey of land registry information, census records and both primary and secondary historical documents. Consultation with local First Nations is also beneficial for information on traditional land use areas, sacred and other sites. A survey of the Province of Ontario's Archaeological Sites Database within the subject property's catchment area, as well as geotechnical studies (geomorphology, hydrogeology) is also required. For urban and brownfield studies, this may include reports from municipal engineering and planning studies. In some cases, researchers may also compile information from fire studies and insurance records .

Stage Two Archaeological Assessment

Stage Two Archaeological Assessment consists of a reconnaissance on the subject property for the purposes of archaeological site identification. At this level of survey, artifacts, fauna and features are discovered using a non-probability random sampling strategy consisting of surface survey and/or test pit survey within an informal grid system. These surface and sub-surface assemblages identified, cataloged and mapped for their chronology and provenience. In some instances, air photo imaging or geophysical sensing may be required where there are deeply buried deposits. The non-probability strategy, which mandates 100 percent coverage of a sampling area, allows the researcher to gather field data with a high confidence level and low error rates in determining the presence or absence of archaeological sites and assemblages. Discovered cultural materials are registered in the Ontario Archaeological Site Database.

Stage Three Archaeological Assessment

Stage Three Archaeological Assessment consists of archaeological survey and test excavation to ascertain dimension and boundary of a Registered Archaeological Site. A formal grid survey is deployed over the subject property with one metre square test units spaced at five metre intervals. Sampling strategies may be either probability or non-probability random testing depending on the topography, geomorphology and hydrogeology of the site. Trowel or shovel testing is done using 1/4" or 1/8" screen mesh depending on the site condition. In some instances, coring may be may be required from adjacent bogs or wetlands for supplementary data. On archaeological sites that are undisturbed, or insitu, a trench may be warranted to document the stratigraphic profile of a site. This may also be necessary on historic building sites where often there are deeply buried cultural deposits. Again, assemblages are unearthed, mapped, cataloged, and data processed. A report generated at this level of assessment can make the determination of heritage value, interest or significance under provincial statutes such as Ontario Regulation O.Reg.10/06 or O.Reg. 09/06. The archaeologist may determine that one, the site needs further study and recommends a Stage Four Archaeological Assessment; or two, the site requires no further study; or three, the site is cleared for development but site monitoring is recommended during construction phases. Proponents should be aware that the final decision regarding report recommendations is governed by the Ontario Government, Ministry of Culture Regional Archaeologist.

Stage Four Archaeological Assessment

Stage Four Archaeological Assessment involves the complete excavation of all areas outlined by the Stage Three process. This may include the whole archaeological site or only those areas designated for impact by the proponent. This may involve 'penetrating excavation' and 'area or block excavation' strategies. Some properties may require 'clearance excavation' which may involve the use of earth moving machinery. Sub-surface features are excavated and mapped. A report generated at this level of assessment concludes the process under provincial statutes such as Ontario Regulation O.Reg.10/06 or O.Reg. 09/06. The archaeologist may determine that no further work is required; or that the subject property is cleared for development but site monitoring is recommended during construction phases. Proponents should be aware that the final decision regarding report recommendations is governed by the Ontario Government, Ministry of Culture Regional Archaeologist.