National Indigenous Peoples Day 2022: recognition through place names

Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research and Designation Program

Place names are an integral part of cultural heritage. In recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Geographical names Board of Canada has released a dataset of Indigenous place names. The dataset contains about 20,000 names confirmed or reasonably believed to be of Indigenous origin, First Nations, Inuit or Métis. The names have been pulled from the Canadian Geographical Names Database, which is populated with toponymic information from the provincial and territorial naming authorities.

The dataset can be viewed online and is also available with other accompanying documentation from the Government of Canada’s Open Government portal. It can be downloaded in CSV, KML and SHP formats as well as a Web Map Service. Toponomy is an ever changing field with new names being adopted and new knowledge of existing names being discovered. Moving forward, the dataset will be updated weekly to capture these additions and changes. The dataset is freely accessible, but is subject to the Government of Canada’s Open Government License. 

Screenshot of the Indigenous Place Names Dataset web viewer. Source: Natural Resources Canada, 2022.
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Upcoming events for National Indigenous Peoples Day

Written by: Laura Golebiowski, Indigenous Heritage Section

June 21 is the summer solstice: the longest day of the year. It is a significant time for many Indigenous Peoples and Nations. As early as 1982, Indigenous organizations advocated for a national day to acknowledge their diverse histories, cultures and outstanding contributions. In 1995, June 21 was declared to be National Aboriginal Day—held annually and renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2017.

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“ᒥᔪᑕᒧᐣ ᓇᓇᓂᐢ miyotamon nananis – it is a good road in all directions”

Editor’s note: For our first in a series of posts recognizing June as National Indigenous History Month, take a look at how the Provincial Archives of Alberta assisted a local artist with her newest project. The banner image above photographed by Erin Sekulich.

Written by: Erin Sekulich, Provincial Archives of Alberta

Artist Heather Shillinglaw is a bubbly woman who immediately makes you feel special. Her passion is evident in her work and it is exciting to see that some of the inspiration for her artistic pieces was taken from the Provincial Archives. Heather explains that Miyotamon Nananis – it is a good road in all directions – is the second project she has created that references archival records. Her inspiration is drawn from familial oral history, but the archival resources help fill the gaps in the story. She has gathered research from Library and Archives Canada, Hudson’s Bay Company Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

Artist Heather Shillinglaw worked from scrip, maps, paintings, letters, and drawings – even negotiating with fellow researchers for records they were already viewing; trading and exchanging knowledge through the process. Source: Heather Shillinglaw.
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New discoveries of ancient sites in the boreal forest

Written by: Todd Kristensen, Regional Archaeologist

Recent archaeological discoveries in Alberta’s Boreal Forest are confirming the antiquity of Indigenous occupation of this place and refining ideas of how pre-contact people adapted to landscapes. Two fresh articles in the most recent issue of the Archaeological Survey of Alberta’s Occasional Paper Series explore ancient sites found in northwest Alberta.

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Founder’s Day at the University of Alberta

Written by: Louise McKay and Suzanna Wagner

Imagine inviting the entire graduating class of the University of Alberta in for tea. That’s what Alberta’s first premier, Alexander Rutherford, and his wife Mattie did in 1912. All 20 members of the university’s graduating class attended with their family members. After the first graduation tea, a party they named Founder’s Day, the Rutherfords made the celebration an annual event until 1938. Over 300 grads took tea with the Rutherfords that final year.

The tea party celebrating graduation was held at the Rutherfords’ elegant Edwardian mansion just east of the university campus. Not just neighbours, the Rutherfords had a close relationship with the university. Alexander Cameron Rutherford co-founded the university in 1908. He continued to play an active role at the University, serving as Chancellor from 1927 until his death in 1941. Mrs. Mattie Rutherford played an active role organizing and hosting Founders’ Day. She also hosted, at her home, numerous meetings of the University Women’s Club, of which she was an honourary member. Both the Rutherford children, Cecil and Hazel attended some university classes. Hazel in particular was active within the university community, contributing articles to the university newspaper The Gateway, which helped to keep students away serving during World War One up to date with local news.

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Stories of discovery: Devil’s Coulee nesting site

Editor’s note: We continue our series highlighting significant fossil discoveries found by members of the public. Remember, if you find a fossil, follow these instructions.

1987: Devil’s Coulee Nesting Site (TMP 1987.003.0003)

Technician Dawna Macleod poses with a prepared hadrosaur nest from Devil’s Coulee. Source: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.

Wendy Sloboda spent much of her youth exploring the Warner area of southern Alberta. As a high school student in 1986, she worked as an assistant under the direction of Dr. Len Hills at the University of Calgary on a palaeontological impact assessment for a proposed dam near Milk River. She came across abundant dinosaur eggshell fragments on the Milk River Ridge near her home, and reported them to Dr. Hills. A team from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, including Dr. Philip Currie, visited the site with Wendy and her parents to inspect the find.

The Devil’s Coulee Provincial Historic Site. Source: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.
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After two seasons of closures, Alberta’s historic sites set to reopen

Written by: Suzanna Wagner, Edward van Vliet, Stephanie McLachlan

May 18 might be an ordinary Wednesday for some, but for Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites, it’s a much anticipated day. After two seasons of COVID closures, seven historic sites will be re-opening to visitors next week.

In the eastern part of the province, Fort George & Buckingham House is kicking off summer 2022 in grand style. Not only has the site’s official book Opponents and Neighbours: Fort George and Buckingham House and the early fur trade on the North Saskatchewan River, 1792 to 1800, been published, but 2022 is the visitor centre’s 30th anniversary.

The modern visitor centre at Fort George & Buckingham House was opened exactly 200 years after the original fur trade forts were built. Inside you’ll find an interactive museum gallery, travelling exhibits, activities, guided tours and modern visitor facilities. Source: Historic Sites and Museums.

This season also marks the debut of a new exhibit. “Fur Trade Highways of Alberta: Water Transportation, 1780 to 1930,” covers fur trade companies’ gradual transition from canoes, to York boats, to paddle wheelers over 150 dramatic years of change in the fur trade. The exhibit features boating artifacts, a music station, a video about York boat building and life-size boat outlines in the ground to give visitors a real-life sense of how big these boats were.

Be sure to check out Fort George & Buckingham House’s Facebook and website for details of all the upcoming events! We hope to see you there.

To celebrate these many milestones, each weekend in July and August will have a different theme. There will be a book launch party, weekends celebrating the river, boats, and the new exhibit, weekends to explore the storied archaeological history of the site, events featuring stories of the many people who lived at Fort George & Buckingham House and a return of the ever-popular Bears and Berries festival!

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Heritage Awards nominations close soon

Reminder that there are just over three weeks left to submit your nominations for the 2022 Heritage Awards!

The Heritage Awards, presented by the Alberta government, help to honour the work of Alberta citizens, groups and communities helping to share protect, preserve and promote our province’s history. The awards recognize individuals, non-profit organizations, corporations, municipalities, First Nations and Metis settlements. To get a sense of the outstanding effort from community members, take a look at the recipients from the last Heritage Awards.

Recipients will be recognized at an awards ceremony in September during Alberta Culture Days.

To nominate an individual or group, fill out a nomination form and drop off, mail, courier or email your nomination package to:

Heritage Awards Program
Old St. Stephen’s College Building
8820 112 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T6G 2P8
Email: csw.heritageawards@gov.ab.ca

Stories of discovery: Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai bonebed

Editor’s note: We continue our series highlighting significant fossil discoveries found by members of the public. Remember, if you find a fossil, follow these instructions.

1986: Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai bonebed (TMP 1986.055.0258)

A skeleton of Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai in Dinosaur Hall from the Pipestone Creek bonebed.

Al Lakusta was a junior high science teacher in Grande Prairie in the 1970s. As part of his lessons, he took students prospecting for fossils at Pipestone Creek. The fossils they found were usually molluscs, like clams and oysters. One day in 1974, Al came across dinosaur fossils when he ventured farther upstream than usual. He looked along the banks for the source of the fallen fossil material, and luckily spotted a ledge about 10 metres above the creek. He clambered up the bank and located the fossil-rich layer. He sent samples of the fossils to the Provincial Museum of Alberta, and consulted with scientists from the Grande Prairie Regional College to learn more about his find. Palaeontologists, including Dr. Philip Currie, were then involved to help identify the bones.

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Archaeology and modern forestry in Alberta

Editor’s note: This blog post is derived from a recent paper published in the Archaeological Survey of Alberta’s Occasional Paper Series titled: Forestry and archaeology in Alberta: A history and synthesis written by Bereziuk et al. The second paper in this issue was also recently released and is titled: Dated ground stone artifacts from Tse’K’wa (HbRf-39), Peace River region, British Columbia.  

Written by: Todd Kristensen, Regional Archaeologist

Most archaeology in Alberta happens in advance of industry development when consultants are hired to ensure that archaeological sites are avoided or excavated prior to ground disturbance. For the last decade, about half of the new sites recorded in Alberta are found during forestry programs when consultants look for archaeological material in advance of tree harvesting and logging road construction. The contribution that forestry-based archaeology makes in Alberta is large.

Why do forestry operators have to hire archaeological consultants? 

Industry developers are generally required by law, through the Historical Resources Act, to submit development plans to the Archaeological Survey of Alberta, who then reviews the footprints for overlaps with known archaeological sites or areas with potential for archaeological material. Forestry is one of Alberta’s largest industries in terms of spatial area: about 87,000 hectares are harvested each year and over 2 million hectares have been commercially logged in Alberta since 1990. Archaeological sites in harvest areas can be disturbed during road construction, during logging (by heavy machinery that cuts trees or transports them), and by site preparation practices that relate to reforestation.

In many areas in Alberta, the ground is intentionally disturbed after harvest to encourage regrowth of desired seedlings: about 18,000 hectares of land in Alberta are annually subjected to mechanical site preparation by forestry operators. Archaeological sites in Alberta’s Boreal Forest are often quite shallow (within 30 cm from the surface) meaning that forestry can have large impacts on the province’s preserved heritage. In the big picture, the vast majority of Alberta’s forests and all archaeological material in the province are public resources. For these reasons, forestry operators are responsible for detecting and avoiding archaeological sites during development.   

Alberta’s forested ecoregions (data from Alberta Parks 2005). The Parkland is not a commercially harvestable forest type. South of the Parkland is Alberta’s Prairie ecoregion. Source: Todd Kristensen.
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