Dig near the Mu­seum of In­dus­try un­earths lo­cal his­tory

The News (New Glasgow) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KEVIN ADSHADE

More of Pic­tou County’s in­dus­trial past saw the light of day over the week­end.

“The ar­ti­facts on the site, they don’t just be­long to me or who­ever digs them up, they be­long to ev­ery­body in the prov­ince, so it’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure that ev­ery­thing is ac­tu­ally recorded,” says Laura de Boer, an ar­chae­ol­o­gist with In­dus­trial Her­itage of Nova Scotia.

De Boer helped lead an ar­chae­ol­ogy dig near the Mu­seum of In­dus­try in Stellarton, where be­gin­ning in 1827, a foundry stood for decades as part of the ear­li­est large-scale coal min­ing in Nova Scotia.

De Boer helped lead a dig on these grounds a year ago, where thousands of ar­ti­facts were un­cov­ered. They would sub­se­quently be cleaned, pro­cessed and cat­a­logued for stor­age, as would the items that were un­earthed this past week­end.

Well over 20 signed up for the morn­ing shift on Satur­day and more would be get­ting their hands dirty later Satur­day and also Sun­day, guided by de Boer and sev­eral other pro­fes­sional ar­chae­ol­o­gists.

“It’s the thrill of discovery, ex­plor­ing the past through phys­i­cal ob­jects,” de Boer said, as around her, am­a­teur ar­chae­ol­o­gists slowly dug up his­tory, care­fully turn­ing over the soil, sift­ing through the mud, find­ing pieces of brick, metal and glass, and even part of a hob­nail shoe, which has nail­heads in­serted in them to help pro­vide trac­tion — prob­a­bly worn by an em­ployee more than a cen­tury ago.

“You get so many peo­ple say ‘oh, I al­ways wanted to be an ar­chae­ol­o­gist.’ We’re giv­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to be one to­day.”

Michelle Hicks spent some time study­ing ar­chaeom­e­try in Greece a cou­ple years back. Now liv­ing in New Glas­gow, she showed up on Satur­day to take part in the dig.

“This is ac­tu­ally a chance to do some hands-on stuff,” she said.

“It’s his­tory and lo­cal cul­ture. It’s just fun to dis­cover some­thing.”

The area is a na­tional his­toric site, rec­og­nized by the fed­eral govern­ment be­cause of the im­por­tance of Nova Scotia’s coal min­ing in­dus­try to the de­vel­op­ment of Canada. The first coal pits were lo­cated be­hind where the mu­seum now sits.

Three pre­vi­ous digs were con­ducted at the site back in the 1980s and 1990s, lead­ing to the discovery of the walls of the foundry.

The foundry was built to sup­port the mine es­tab­lished by the Gen­eral Min­ing As­so­ci­a­tion in 1827.


Laura de Boer holds a shoe worn by an em­ployee at the old foundry, near where the Mu­seum of In­dus­try stands.


Brian Knight works near an old brick vent sup­port wall, which was orig­i­nally dug up nearly 30 years ago.

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