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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 1

Archaeological Investigations of the National Historic Sites Service, 1962-1966

by John H. Rick


With this issue, the National and Historic Parks Branch inaugurates its new publication series. Primarily, this is designed as an outlet for historical and archaeological research carried out by the National Historic Sites Service and the Fortress of Louisbourg Restoration Section, although papers from other sources may be considered if space permits.

The present paper is intended to show the scope of the Service's archaeological research and to bridge, in summary fashion, the gap between research and publication. The bibliography which follows lists most of the unpublished archaeological reports now on file with the Service and thereby indicates the contents of future volumes in this series. It is expected that subsequent issues will appear in print as frequently as reports can be made ready for publication and funds are available.

Publication date is, to some extent, reflected in the foregoing discussion of individual sites. By and large, projects, such as Fort Beausejour, which are a long way from completion are discussed in greater detail than excavations which have been finished and for which reports are being prepared for publication. A number of minor projects are discussed at length because it is unlikely that reports on such work will ever see print. These excavations were designed to answer specific questions and do not, in themselves, represent integrated, publishable units of a site. At such time as major excavations of these sites are carried out, these isolated units will be integrated into the broader studies.

The minor excavations result from a need to supply archaeological answers to a wide variety of specific questions relating to landscaping, small restoration projects, preliminary site development planning, etc. Much of the work is done to salvage information threatened by maintenance or development projects such as sewage systems and underground wiring. These matters demand the attention of any body administering a nation-wide network of sites, no matter how frustrating such piecemeal excavation may be to the individual archaeologist. Excavations of this type will always be part of the Service's responsibilities, but, as more site development plans are formulated, it becomes increasingly possible to incorporate these small projects into integrated research programs for entire sites.

The number of undeveloped sites in the national historic park system has been a major factor in determining the orientation of the Service's research program. It is the Service's responsibility for site development which has constituted the basic "problem orientation" of research, rather than any explicit formulation of archaeological problems. In effect, archaeology has been used to find out as much as possible about the physical appearance of various sites in order to enable the Service as a whole to determine whether it should plan for reconstruction, restoration, stabilization or some other form of site development. This type of applied research for immediate results will remain an integral part of the Service's work, but this research has itself resulted in the formulation of new problems, particularly in the field of artifact analysis, which future excavation must take into account. The next few years must see a program of basic research designed to solve these problems in conjunction with a continuing program of applied research to meet immediate needs.

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