I’m Katie, a Heritage Cartographer for Archaeological Research Associates Ltd., but we are more commonly known in the industry as ‘ARA’. We are Ontario’s oldest archaeological and heritage consulting firm, and have been uncovering Ontario’s history since 1972.
ARA’s Archaeology Department is responsible for conducting all 4 Stages of archaeological assessments as regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. In addition to looking at cultural heritage resources below the ground in the Archaeology Department, ARAs Heritage Department looks at built heritage resources and cultural heritage landscapes. The long and short of all this means that there is no shortage of spatial data!
In a typical day I start with reviewing GPS points collected from our archaeological excavations. These points usually correspond to the locations of individual artifacts, boundaries of our assessments, topographic features and locations from which photographs were taken. This data is then presented in map layout or KMZ format for researchers, technical writers and project managers.
Much of the background research for archaeological and heritage assessments involves tracking down and manipulating historic maps like the ones pictured below.
My favourites are always the oldest maps – they are usually illustrated with colour and tiny people, buildings, animals and even vegetation. This snapshot of a Bird’s Eye Map shows all of these things!
I have two really neat maps I’ve been working with lately, both from the City of Toronto Archives. One map is the Plan of Toronto Harbour by Joseph Bouchette that dates to 1792 and the other is the Plan of York by Lieutenant Philpotts of the Royal Engineers that dates to 1818! Check these two beauties out below. The Plan of Toronto Harbour has a delicately illustrated sailboat, and the Plan of York shows so much detail in the landscape, you can see the difference between grass, forest, swamp, orchard and gardens!
Another source of historic map that is very important to both archaeology and heritage, are Fire Insurance Plans. Geo-referencing these plans allows us to map building footprints and materials through time. The legend below is an example of how much detail can be included in these types of maps.
Due to archaeological site protection protocols, I can’t share much about the archaeological work I do, but I did have the opportunity to work with the Kitchener Public Library this past year to create the “Local Aboriginal History and CultureÂ Bike Tour”. In honour of Aboriginal Month (June) in Canada, the Library made this guide available online and in its main branch, and held guided tours through-out the month. It was a great experience and a fantastic way to bring together archaeology, cultural heritage and public outreach.
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For all things archaeology, cultural heritage and ARA please follow along on our Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/ArchaeologicalResearchAssociates); Twitter profiles @ArchResearch and @ARAHeritage and to further fuel your Pinterest obsession you can find us at www.pinterest.com/araarchaeology and www.pinterest.com/araheritage.