Indigenous artifacts that may be up to 4,523 years old have been found in a downtown Hamilton park, city officials say.
An archeological dig at Victoria Park, where the city is also installing a spray pad, unearthed a stemmed point and triangular point both made of stone. The city said they may be up to 4,523 and 1,523 years old, respectively. Five flint flakes were also found.
There are also artifacts that aren’t Indigenous, including an 1859 Queen Victoria coin, a 16th Regiment military button made in 1860 and a carved-bone, single domino piece.
Wes Kindree, the city’s landscape architectural services supervisor, said archeological work has been done at the park since 2007 because of its “rich history.”
The discovery of Indigenous artifacts in early June was unexpected because the area was supposedly a “Euro-Canadian site,” according to Kindree.
Within its history, the park was also home to the “glass-enclosed” Crystal Palace, which, according to the Hamilton Public Library, opened in 1860 and was “used year round for agricultural and industrial exhibits.”
It’s not surprising Indigenous artifacts have been found near the city’s core, said Rick Monture, a McMaster University associate professor in the departments of English, cultural and Indigenous studies.
Monture, who is also a member of the Mohawk Nation, Turtle clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River, said most towns and cities in southern Ontario were built on Indigenous villages because of their access to clean water and their esthetic qualities.
“You could probably put a shovel in any city block and find something of note,” he said.
Indigenous artifacts have been found in the Red Hill Valley in Hamilton and, more recently, in the present-day Mount Albion West area.
Only licensed archeologists are allowed to investigate and excavate archeological sites, which are protected under the Ontario Heritage Act. Anyone looting or destroying the sites can face up to a $1-million fine.
Monture said the artifacts in Victoria Park may not have a tonne of cultural significance, so the city should do their due diligence but may not need to halt work for a long time.
“If they’d found human remains … or evidence of a village … that’s one thing, but these are probably arrow points that a guy took a shot at a deer [with] and missed,” he said.
Lauren Vastano, a city spokesperson, said the city contacted Huron Wendat First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Haudenosaunee Development Institute to share the artifact findings and invite them to help with the rest of the archeological work.
Kindree said the archeological work was set for this week, but may be done next week due to the wet weather changing soil conditions.
He said the spray pad won’t be open this year, but should be ready for next May.