West Coast Spot Finds: Where did you say you found that?

I was born and raised on the west coast of the island so any time my work sends me out that way I am happy.  I spent some time in and around the Deer Lake / Howley area last week working which allowed me some time to check on some known sites in the area.  From Howley to the south end of Deer Lake there are ten known sites.  Eight of them are spot finds of artifacts.  Spot finds usually consist of artifacts picked up by a member of the general public and archaeologists don’t know their exact location.

Location of the sites mentioned in this post (red dots)

The earliest reported spot find was a stemmed Maritime Archaic biface in Deer Lake.  According to the Town’s website: “In 1922, a work camp was established to support the International Pulp and Paper Company.  This camp would later become the Town of Deer Lake, with a formal townsite being constructed in 1925. ”  Dr. Elmer Harp, one of the first archaeologists to work in the province, was in the town in 1950 when a Mr. Kennedy gave him the stemmed Maritime Archaic biface.  According to Dr. Harp “. . . the site was first discovered behind, or west of, the lowermost log cabin at the foot of Chapel Hill Road.” (Harp 1964)  Several archaeologists since Harp have had no luck finding  a site associated with this biface.

Deer Lake stemmed Maritime Archaic biface is # 4 (Harp 1964)

Several of the other west coast  spot finds are typical artifacts representing various cultures like the Dorset Palaeoeskimo and Recent Indians.  These artifacts were collected by members of the general public and reported to the Provincial Archaeology Office.  Many are on display at the Deer Lake Visitor Centre.  As an archaeologist working in Newfoundland and Labrador I would urge you to never collect artifacts and if you find any you should report them to the Provincial Archaeology Office.  Removing an artifact from a site is like tearing a page from a book; you know the page came from a book but you’ll never understand the full story of the book.

Spot find Recent Indian artifacts from the west coast on display at the Deer Lake Visitor Centre
Spot find Recent Indian artifact from the west coast on display at the Deer Lake Visitor Centre. This artifact is ~10-12 cm long

In the mid 1980s a collection of gouges and celts were found in the Howley area by another member of the general public.  This collection is particularly interesting because all the artifacts have a very rectangular shape, square edges and sharp lines.  Whereas typical gouges and celts in the Province have much rounder edges and lines.  According to the person who found the artifacts they were all together and there is a possibility they were next to a fireplace (hearth).  Several archaeologists have looked for this site with no luck.

The above three photos are artifacts from the cache of artifacts found near Howley. They are on display at the Deer Lake Public Library.

Also on display at the Deer Lake Public Library is an peculiar artifact that was found in the Junction Brook area by someone in the general public (Photos below).  Junction Brook is on the north end of Grand Lake.  The artifact is unlike anything I’ve seen before.  In fact it is hard to put a title on this artifact, or get a decent photo of it.  One end of the tool appears celt like while the other looks like a thick spatula.

Displayed at the Deer Lake Public Library

Harp, Elmer  1964        The Cultural Affinities of the Newfoundland Dorset Eskimo. National Museum of Canada Bulletin No. 200 Anthropological Series No. 67,Ottawa.

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2 thoughts on “West Coast Spot Finds: Where did you say you found that?

    1. nlarchaeology

      Thanks for the comment.
      This area has been surveyed by 2 different archaeologists; once in the mid 1970s and again in the 1990s. Two major sites were found; one in South Brook Park the other in Deer Lake Park.

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