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Northeast Historical Archaeology

Article Title

What We Have Learned: A Retrospective on Parks Canada War of 1812 Military Sites Archaeology

Authors

Joseph H. Last

Abstract

Over the past five decades, Parks Canada archaeology has advanced the understanding of War of 1812 sites in Ontario. Delineation of the original 1796 traces at Fort George and Fort Malden provide enhanced appreciation of their transformation from defensible supply stations to works of greater strength. Investigations at Forts Mississauga, Henry, and Wellington illustrate how British Royal Engineers rethought defense, varying designs as the war progressed. Fort Wellington also demonstrates British engineers willingness to stray from Vauban-influenced systems by adopting the bastion-less trace in their later works. Excavations at Fort George illustrate American use of entrenchments as an expedient means of perimeter defense. In addition to site design, alterations, and future archaeological potential, excavations also reveal insights about occupation and activities: from raucous dinner parties to evocative caches of flints and buttons. In hindsight, the usefulness of employing a long-term/small-scale cultural resource management approach to Ontario military sites archaeology is briefly evaluated along with recommendations for future study.

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