Lakehead University students and Indigenous community members excavate 4,000-year-old archaeological sites

Photo of people working in an excavation site in the forest near Lakehead University 


May 18, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ont. 

Professors and students from Lakehead University’s Anthropology department are working with First Nations and Métis community members to excavate archaeological sites located beside the McIntyre River on the University’s Thunder Bay campus. 

This is the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation, who have approved the project taking place on their ancestral lands. These sites recorded the daily lives of people from nearly 4,000 years ago, when the shoreline of Lake Superior was much higher than today. 

“We are finding evidence of people quarrying and using local stone (taconite) to make tools,” said Dr. Matthew Boyd, Chair of Lakehead University’s Department of Anthropology. 

“We believe that this occurred about 4,000 years ago when the shore of Lake Superior was higher than today and covered much of the city. Stone tools were important for survival because they provided people with equipment to hunt, prepare hide clothing and shelter, and other necessities,” Dr. Boyd said. 

This unique training opportunity is a partnership between the Department of Anthropology, the Niijii Indigenous Mentorship Program, Woodland Heritage Northwest, the Ontario Archaeological Society, and Parks Canada. 

It will provide training in basic archaeological field methods such as mapping, site surveying and excavation, and material culture identification. 

Additionally, a new Indigenous Archaeological Technician training program developed by Woodland Heritage Northwest and the Ontario Archaeological Society for the Waasigan Transmission Line project will be running from May 15-19. 

Members of the Lakehead community and the general public are invited to see the archaeological work in progress until Friday, May 19.   


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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 10,000 students in THE’s 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit