A completed excavation at the Landsdowne Ironworks. Recovered artifacts are catalogued and studied. The pit was filled with the removed overburden.

by Michael Whittaker

The importance of public participation in archaeology will be discussed by historian Art Shaw and archaeologist Jeff Earl at the Rideau Valley Archaeological Society (RVAS) meeting 2:30 pm, Sunday, January 12 at the Goose and Gridiron in Merrickville. Everyone is welcome.

Community support and fund raising exceeding $30,000 made possible the three-season excavation at Lansdowne Ironworks site in Lyndhurst, Ontario’s first blast furnace, which operated c.1801 to c.1811. The dig on the river bank by professional archaeologists and community volunteers recovered artifacts and structural remains from the ironworks buildings.

The 2016 purchase by Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands of a small property adjacent to the upper falls on the Gananoque River in Lyndhurst created the opportunity for local community project. In summer 2017, testing began on the east side bank, the historical location of the blast furnace and casting house.

Art Shaw, who commuted to Queen’s University, was born and schooled near Lyndhurst where he learned about the Lansdowne Ironworks in Grade 8. He has been leading or active in local heritage initiatives since 1984. Investigation of the site was his near life-long ambition.

Archaeologist Jeff Earl, MA, co-principal of Perth-based Past Recovery Archaeological Services Inc., studied industrial archaeology at the Ironbridge Institute, Birmingham University. The exploration of the ironworks merged his interests in industrial archaeology and public participation.

RVAS begins the group’s third season of monthly presentations in 2020. Members have taken the opportunities to participate in digs in Ontario, Quebec, and New York. An annual membership is $20.

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