Awards, Archaeology & Schooner Cove

Earlier in May, the Vice-President of the Canadian Archaeological Association contacted me via email informing me that this blog is the winner of a “2013 Public Communications Award for the 2012 entries of the blog titled Inside Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeology.” Needless to say, but I was shocked and pleased; this award was acknowledgement from my peers that this blog and the information contained with was useful and informative.

The email stated: “Our Public Communications Awards Committee noted that these blog posts offer significant insight into aspects of Canadian archaeology that have often been overlooked or underrepresented. Your posts were written to make the information readily accessible to both the general public and archaeologists. The blog is well organized and full of wonderful information concerning current and past archaeology in Newfoundland and Labrador, including much revisited material that has been forgotten even by local archaeologists.”

This is a better description of what I have been trying to do with this blog than is present on my own About page. Thank-you to the Canadian Archaeological Association, the person who nominated the blog and to my colleagues who proof read drafts of my posts fix my errors and thereby improve the blog. And, of course, thank-you to the readers of this blog.

Showing the location of Schooner Cove.
Showing the location of Schooner Cove.

Schooner Cove, located just outside L’Anse au Loup, Labrador is not a big area, ~2500 m2, but it has a long cultural history starting with the Maritime Archaic Indians. Other cultural occupations of archaeological interest include a Palaeoeskimos, other unidentified precontact occupations and Europeans including Basque whalers, 19th century fisherman and sealers, and a 20th century whaling operation. Today the cove is occupied by to several cabins.

Schooner Cove in 2003. Schooner Cove Point is on the left side of the photo.
Schooner Cove in 2003. Schooner Cove Point is on the left side of the photo.

Formal archaeological work in the cove goes back to 1977 when Dr. Jim Tuck & Dr. Ralph Pastore collected a small number of lithic artifacts and flakes. They identified a Dorset occupation in the cove but this was before the definition of the Groswater Palaeoeskimo culture by Dr. William Fitzhugh. Since that definition, the Palaeoeskimo occupation of Schooner Cove is now recognized as Groswater. In 1977, Dr. Selma Barkham also collected a Basque whaling harpoon and ceramic roofing tiles from Schooner Cove Point making it one of the first 16th century Basque whaling sites identified.

Dr. Jim Tuck & Dr. Ralph Pastore also identified a dense concentration of stone flakes in exposed sand blowouts with several small exposed hearths and fire-cracked rock. They identified the cultural occupants of this site as Maritime Archaic Indian.

Fragments of Basques Roofing tile from Schooner Cove Point.
Fragments of Basque Roofing tile from Schooner Cove Point. (Private collection)

In 1984, Dr. David L. Keenlyside and Pat Allen, then Assistant Provincial Archaeologist for the New Brunswick Provincial Government, conducted a survey of L’Anse au Loup and Schooner Cove partly in response to the proposed construction of a new wharf and road. The wharf was proposed for Schooner Cove Point, the location of the Basque occupation. Testing at the Point by Dr. Keenlyside reaffirmed Dr. Barkham’s original finding of an intensive Basque occupation. Dr. Keenlyside found whalebone, cultural debris in the form of stoneware, ceramic tiles and metal artifacts in his test pits. He also noted depressions which he believed were the remains of Basque rendering ovens and other buildings. The shoreline also showed considerable evidence of erosion suggesting that the front portion of the original Basque site had since washed away.

Schooner Cove Point in  2003 showing erosion.
Schooner Cove Point in 2003 showing erosion.
Schooner Cove Point in 2003 showing eroding Basque roofing tile and blubber encrusted stone.
Schooner Cove Point in 2003 showing eroding Basque roofing tile and blubber encrusted stone.

Local informants also told Dr. Keenlyside that whalers in the late 19th century and the first few years of the 20th century used the cove extensively and that at one point in the 19th century there was a wharf in the cove behind which there was a large accumulation of whalebone. By 1984, all trace of the wharf was gone but some of the whalebone was still visible.

Schooner Cove wharf, taken from Schooner Cove Point in the late 1800s or early 1900s.
Schooner Cove wharf, taken from Schooner Cove Point in the late 1800s or early 1900s. (http://www.pointamourlighthouse.ca/home/point_amour_memories.htm?wa=8)
Schooner Cove wharf.
Schooner Cove wharf in the late 1800s or early 1900s.  (http://www.therooms.ca/ic_sites/fisheries/images/a7-75.jpg)

In the early 1900s, Job Brothers, in partnership with a Norwegian company, built a whale-processing factory at Schooner Cove. Eighty-four whales were taken in 1904. The whale and guano-processing factory did not last much beyond the early 1900s. The last time I was in Schooner Cove remnants of this factory were still visible in the form of a giant iron boiler stranded on the beach.

All of this history means that any new developments in the cove will likely require archaeological investigation. For example, in 2010, the Provincial Archaeology Office had an assessment carried out for two new cabins proposed for the cove. One new archaeology site was found. Schooner Cove 6, EiBe-07, is characterized by historic resources relating primarily to the 18th to 20th-century fishing, sealing and whaling occupations in Schooner Cove. Fortunately, no new archaeological resources were recovered from the two proposed cabin locations and the access route within the survey area.

Looking in to Schooner Cove in 2010, Schooner Cove Point is behind the photographer. (White)
Looking in to Schooner Cove in 2010, Schooner Cove Point is to the left of the cabin. (White)
Flagstone floor and brick fragment located at the bottom of a 2010 Schooner Cove test pit. (White)
Flagstone floor and brick fragment located at the bottom of a 2010 Schooner Cove test pit. (White)

Of course, with all of this historic and archaeological activity the cove has also attracted considerable attention from artifact collectors. Thankfully, in this case, the collectors have cooperated with the Provincial Archaeology Office and allowed their collection to be borrowed, studied, catalogued and returned to them; with the caveat that they would no longer collect artifacts.

Ceramic vessel fragments collected from Schooner Cove.
Coarse earthenware vessel fragments collected from Schooner Cove.
Kaolin smoking pipe fragments, window pane fragments and a gun flint collected from Schooner Cove.
Kaolin smoking pipe fragments, window pane fragments and a gun flint collected from Schooner Cove.
Lithic fragments collected from Schooner Cove.
Lithic fragments collected from Schooner Cove.

With all of the archaeology work done in the cove and despite modern development like cabins and ATV trails, this cove still holds archaeological potential.

References
Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador
 
Keenlyside, David, Dr.
1985  An Archaeological Survey of Schooner Cove, Labrador.  Archaeology in Newfoundland and Labrador, 1984, Annual Report No. 5. Edited by Jane Sproull Thomson and Callum Thomson. Historic Resources Division, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, pp 248-271.
 
White, Lori
2010  Final Report for Schooner Cove, Labrador Straits Archaeological Assessment and Survey. 10.34
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