A Man of Many Hats

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Og­den

Although there are many dairy farm­ers in the East­ern Town­ships, I know of only one who is also an arche­ol­o­gist and an au­thor in be­tween the morn­ing and evening ‘chores’. Michael Royea, who has been rais­ing Brown Swiss and Jersey cows for the past thirty years on his farm in Og­den, also

teaches Arche­ol­ogy part-time at Bishop’s Univer­sity and has just writ­ten his first book: he Grand Cir­cle our.

The book is a travel and ref­er­ence guide to a popular tourist des­ti­na­tion in the Amer­i­can South­west that Mr. Royea first dis­cov­ered when he set out from Beebe, where he grew up, to tour the United States at nine­teen years of age. “I took my first trip out west in 1977. I think I got the travel bug from my grandpa; he was part Gypsy. I headed out to Yel­low­stone and to the Grand Canyon, and vis­ited other sites in that area that I knew noth­ing about at the time,” ex­plained Mr. Royea in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal.

Known as the Colorado Plateau Re­gion, be­sides the spec­tac­u­lar ge­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tions in the area, there are also lit­er­ally thou­sands of arche­o­log­i­cal sites that date back as early as 1200 BC, to the emer­gence of the An­ces­tral Pue­bloans, a re­mark­able, an­cient cul­ture best known for their ar­chi­tec­tural won­ders that can still be vis­ited to­day.

Not so sur­pris­ingly, a few years after his first visit to the South­west, Michael be­gan tak­ing an Arche­ol­ogy course at Bishop’s Univer­sity and also en­rolled in an arche­o­log­i­cal ‘field school’ in Utah, back in his fa­vorite re­gion. By 1995, the dairy farmer be­gan

teach­ing Arche­ol­ogy at Bishop’s, never see­ing a rea­son to give up one in­ter­est, though seem­ingly miles apart, for the other. “I built an arche­o­log­i­cal site on the cam­pus, bring­ing in big stones from around the area and bury­ing bro­ken clay pots and fake ar­row­heads. The stu­dents got to learn ex­actly what they needed to see if arche­ol­ogy was re­ally what they wanted to do. They see the re­al­ity of it, like work­ing in the hot sun for hours; it’s not re­ally like it is in the movies. The other teach­ers could al­ways tell which stu­dents were mine. They’d be busy rub­bing dirt off them­selves in class!” Mr. Royea also con­ducted many study tours of the South­west re­gion with stu­dents.

After well over twenty trips to the Amer­i­can South­west, Mr. Royea wrote The Grand Cir­cle

Tour for tourists plan­ning to visit the famed re­gion and arm­chair trav­el­ers alike. Pub­lished last spring, the com­pre­hen­sive 450page book that fea­tures de­scrip­tions of the sites as well as his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, is al­ready sell­ing well. “The point was to write a book that some­one could sit and read, look at all the pho­tos, and re­ally en­joy the area. The An­ces­tral Pue­bloans were a re­mark­able peo­ple to be able to have lived in that area, now a dessert,” said the au­thor.

“In the Colorado Plateau Re­gion, there are the most num­ber of arche­o­log­i­cal ru­ins that are easy to get to, ru­ins that you can walk around and ex­plore. That’s rare. The Pue­bloans were much more ad­vanced ar­chi­tec­turally than they were in Europe at the time, and it’s amaz­ing to see the things that they built.”

One of the sites in the book that caught my in­ter­est was the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde Na­tional Park: elab­o­rate dwellings built right into the side of a cliff, ac­ces­si­ble only by steep stairs and lad­ders. “Why build it there? They would have had to bring all the food and wa­ter down to the cliff palace from the vil­lage on top. There has been a hun­dred years of re­search on it and it is still a mys­tery why the Pue­bloans built into a cliff,” he com­mented.

Since he also worked as a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher when he was younger, Mr. Royea took all of the photographs him­self for the book and they are spec­tac­u­lar. “I have about 150,000 to 200,000 images of the area in to­tal. I know the area as well as I know Beebe, and I can get around eas­ily with­out a map.” The photographs are black and white in the pa­per edi­tion of the book and in colour in the e-book ver­sion.

Now that Mr. Royea has also caught the ‘writ­ing bug’, he is work­ing on a sec­ond travel guide to high­light the four other an­cient cul­tures of the Amer­i­can South­west. “It will be a com­pan­ion book to the first one,” he said. He has also fin­ished his first fic­tional book, an arche­o­log­i­cal ad­ven­ture story that takes place on the is­land of Crete, and is look­ing for a pub­lisher for that. Michael Royea’s The

Grand Cir­cle Tour can be found at the Bishop’s Univer­sity book­store and on the in­ter­net.

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Dairy farmer and arche­ol­o­gist Michael Royea holds his de­but book, he Grand Cir­cle our, at his farm­house in Og­den.

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Farmer, arche­ol­o­gist and au­thor, Michael Royea, on the porch of his dairy farm in Og­den.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.