District residents learned Friday that New Gold’s Rainy River project isn’t just about gold.
An “archaeology day,” held at the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre from noon-4 p.m., shared information about archaeological findings on the project’s sites.
Licensed archaeologist John Pollock gave a presentation outlining the four stages of his investigation and what the artifacts tell about the history of the area.
“The idea of doing this work is to find archaeological sites and do the research on them, and preserve their information before they get destroyed,” he explained during his slideshow.
“The sites that we’ve dug are going to be impacted by the mine,” he noted.
“So we’re really trying to salvage the information here before it gets impacted by the mine.”
Pollock said that in his 40 years of being an archaeologist, this has been the oldest site he’s dug on. It’s also one of the oldest in the province at 12,000-13,000 years old.
“When we came here, nobody involved with the project expected to find too much,” he recalled.
“But I think what really surprised me was that we were able to find these early sites.
“But also this ‘Campbell’ site that we found is huge, like football-field size,” he added.
“The size of it and the depth of it is incredible.”
Pollock said two of his colleagues still are doing an analysis on one of the sites, and hopes he can follow up with the public on what information they find.
What’s notable about the finished investigations, however, are the quartz cutting tools found that Pollock said are unique to the area.
Andrew Hinshelwood, another archaeologist working on the project, manned a station showcasing the quartz tools and answered questions on his findings.
Hinshelwood said the oldest artifacts belonged to First Nations’ people who moved into the area after a glacial melt.
“The site that we’re dealing with would have had the whole range of human activities: cooking, raising babies, sleeping, and fishing—all of those things,” he noted.
He added with a site this old, the only pieces that were able to remain preserved were the stone tools used for cutting.
“But, we can infer and build a picture of what else was going on at this site,” Hinshelwood explained.
“So it wasn’t just a stone tool manufacturing site,” he stressed. “It was a habitation place and it would have had a nice population.
“I’d like to think they were happy.”
Stacey Jack, New Gold’s manager for community relations, helped plan the day with a few of the archaeologists on the project.
She hoped people were able to take something away from the event.
“It’s a good mechanism to share information because people can’t get out to the project site because it’s a construction zone, but they’re able to come here,” she reasoned.
Eva Visi, who attended the event with her son, said it was interesting to get a different perspective and learn about the history of the area.
“It’s really cool,” she enthused. “There are two different stories going on here.
“They’ve found the gold and they’ve found these ancient artifacts.
“I’ve been hearing about this project and I’ve been living in the area for almost 12 years, and I’ve never got the chance to go to this historical site at the mounds,” Visi added.
“This time when I saw this ad in the paper, I said, ‘We’re going!’ And I’m so glad I came.”