The Museum of Ontario Archaeology explores the human history of south-western Ontario. A permanent display draws on a vast collection of tools and other objects to tell the story of 11,000 years of First Nation peoples in this region of Canada. While outdoors, a partial reconstruction of a fortified Neutral Iroquois village provides a more focused look at Iroquois life from the 16th century onwards. This reconstruction is based on the excavations of and extensive research on the in situ Lawson Iroquois village site, which is adjacent to the museum.
Due to the cultural and historical significance of the Lawson site, it was added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places in 2004. (One of only three archaeological sites so listed in Canada, and the only site in Ontario on the list.) The site has been excavated on and off since the 1920s, but still three-quarters of this 5-acre site remains undisturbed under trees. A trail into the forest allows visitors to appreciate the extent of the site, even though there are no current excavations in progress.
A number of features contribute to the significance of the site, in particular the presence of earthworks that are rarely preserved at Neutral village sites. Excavations from this site alone have produced over 30,000 artefacts, as well as the remains of 19 longhouses, 30 middens, and a palisade. The reconstruction of a longhouse and the palisade can be clearly seen in the Google map below (unfortunately, Google Streetview stops at the front of the museum). The village was fortified and densely populated throughout the year, with an estimated population of 2,000.
Like many museums, the Museum of Ontario Archaeology has its origins in a private collection. Today the museum is both a research and teaching facility within the University of Western Ontario. It is also affiliated to ‘Sustainable Archaeology’, an initiative of both Western University and McMaster University, that facilitates research and access to a collection of archaeological artefacts from all over Ontario – a collection of some two million objects.
Facilities & Visiting the Museum of Ontario Archaeology:
Although the museum is not open daily throughout the year (only May to August), weather permitting the outdoor archaeological site is.
Where is the Museum of Ontario Archaeology?
The Museum is situated on the edge of a residential area in north-west London, Ontario.
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