Peterborough Chapter - The Richardson Site Project

  • March 27, 2018
  • 7:00 PM
  • Trent University Room B104, Life Health Sciences/DNA Building

Speaker: Dr. Robert Pearce
Topic: The Richardson Site Project

The subject of this talk will be the 1976 archaeological excavation of the Richardson site, a small Early Ontario Iroquoian (Pickering branch) village occupied circa 900-1000 A.D. The site is located southeast of Hastings and northeast of Roseneath in Percy Township, Northumberland County. Participating in the May-June 1976 excavation were 78 Grade 7 & 8 students from Roseneath Centennial School, several of whom were members of the Alderville First Nation.

The talk will summarize Pearce’s research at the site (which formed the basis of his Master of Arts thesis from the Department of Anthropology, Trent University, 1975-1977) and the contributions it made to our understanding of the archaeological history of the Rice Lake/middle Trent River area. The talk will summarize some further research on the site and artifacts which has been completed or is currently on-going by archaeology students and faculty of Trent University. The latter demonstrates that not all archaeological collections languish on dusty shelves, but can be used and are still being used to make further contributions to knowledge long after they are collected.

The talk will also place “the dig” in historical perspective to explain how an archaeological excavation involving elementary school students was part of a specific Native Studies curriculum developed by Roseneath Centennial School Principal Mac Hall in the early 1970s, with significant input from First Nations educators. This was concurrent with both provincial and federal efforts to design and implement broader- scale, province-wide Native Studies programs in elementary and secondary schools in the 1970s. Consequentially several high-profile teachers, educators, politicians, and members of Alderville First Nation visited the 1976 excavation to see first-hand how the curriculum was being put into operation with the Native and non-Native students from Roseneath.

Pearce recently moved to the Roseneath area and has had a chance to re-connect with Roseneath Centennial School, former Principal Mac Hall, some of the students who took part in the 1976 “dig”, and members of Alderville First Nation. This is now providing a truly unique perspective on what “the dig” meant to all those involved some 42 years ago.

Robert Pearce is a retired archaeologist, Trent alumnus and Research Fellow of the Trent University Archaeological Research Centre. After completing his Masters thesis at Trent in 1977, he joined the staff of the Museum of Ontario Archaeology in London, Ontario, which is an affiliate of Western University. He was also Adjunct Professor in Western’s Department of Anthropology and instructed an annual archaeological field school for third year University students on the Lawson archaeological site adjacent to the Museum, as well as numerous public education programs for elementary and secondary school students, First Nations groups, adults and members of the general public. He took a brief hiatus from the Museum and Western University in 1981-1982 to obtain his doctoral degree from McGill University. He spent many years at the Museum directing over 500 cultural resource management projects throughout southern Ontario, and in 2000 became Executive Director of the Museum. He concurrently served as the Museum’s Curator. He left the Museum in 2012 and worked for 18 months as Regional Archaeologist for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, before retiring in 2015.

This presentation is part of the Peterborough Chapter’s Monthly Speakers Series, conducted with the support of the City of Peterborough and the Trent University Archaeological Centre. Members of the public are invited. There is no charge. Light refreshments will be served. For further information contact chapter secretary, Dirk Verhulst at


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