The Archaeological Survey in Numbers – 2021 Update Part One

Written by: Colleen Haukaas, Archaeological Survey

This week’s post is an update on the permit management system from 2021 from Alberta’s Archaeological Survey. Archaeological research in Alberta in Alberta that involves surveying and testing land or excavating archaeological sites must be conducted under an Archaeological Research Permit. Permits must be held by an archaeologist who meets professional qualifications. The infographic notes that 58 professional archaeologists held permits in Alberta in 2021; however many other archaeologists work in Alberta archaeology in addition to permit holders, such as field and laboratory technicians.

Most archaeologists in Alberta work in the cultural resources management (CRM) industry, where they work together with the Archaeological Survey and industry partners to avoid impacts to historic resources from proposed developments. CRM archaeologists working under mitigative archaeological permits assessed more than 200 projects in 2021 in all areas of Alberta. Archaeologists dug an astounding 37,000+ shovel tests in 2021 alone, on top of the excavations, backhoe tests, and other inspections they carried out that year.

Most permits were issued for Historical Resources Impact Assessments (HRIAs). Under this type of permit archaeologists determine whether a proposed development will impact archaeological resources. Many tests used in initial HRIAs are negative (shovel tests, sediment exposure examination, backhoe tests). This result is expected- tests are used to expediently locate the presence of cultural materials. After sites have been located, more detailed site evaluations (e.g. test units, excavations) are used for further assessment.

Part two of this post will discuss the archaeological sites recorded in 2021.

You can explore previous Survey in Numbers to compare statistics year over year.

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Violet King Henry: trailblazing Alberta lawyer

Written by: Allan Rowe, Historic Places Research Officer

Violet King Henry was one of the most significant figures in Alberta’s legal history. She became a lawyer at a time when it was very rare to find either a woman or a person of colour in the legal profession. When she entered the University of Alberta’s Law School in 1950, she was one of only three women in the program (a fourth had enrolled in the faculty by the time she graduated in 1953).  She was the first Black Canadian to earn a law degree in Alberta and would become the first Black woman to practice law in Canada when she was called to the Alberta Bar in June 1954. It was the start of a remarkable and varied career that took King Henry across Canada and the United States.

Violet King Henry called to the Alberta Bar, June 1954, (CU1140946) by De Lorme, Jack; Calgary Albertan. Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.

Violet King Henry was born in Calgary on October 18, 1929. Her grandparents had arrived in Canada in 1911 as part of a large group of Black settlers fleeing racist violence and discrimination in Oklahoma. At that time, the Canadian government was aggressively promoting the Canadian Prairie West as an ideal field of settlement for land-hungry American farmers. The arrival of hundreds of Black settlers from Oklahoma starting in 1908, however, quickly exposed the racist foundations of Canada’s immigration policy. The Government of Canada considered multiple strategies to discourage Black immigration from the United States to Canada, including legislation to ban Black immigration from the United States altogether (the legislation was never passed into law). Despite this hostile reception, approximately 1,000 Black settlers came from the United States to Alberta between 1908 and 1911 and established vibrant communities such as Amber Valley and Keystone (now Breton). 

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