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