Archaeological Aims

We intend to undertake a multi-year land based excavation of the Shickluna shipyard.  The goal of our archaeological research is to identify and define the use of space at the shipyard (for example, the remains of foundations and structures), activity areas, the use of materials employed to maintain both the yards and ships, and techniques on the part of the builders, garnering information about wood craftsmanship.  Our investigations of the site will also include the Shickluna village — a dozen houses built for the worker's of the shipyard, and revealing an important aspect of St. Catharine's early labour history. Additional excavations will focus on an 1850s Canal schooner, the James Norris, abandoned in the yard basin.

Through archaeological fieldwork, we will examine the combined materiality of this Victorian shipyard, in the context of its community and surrounding landscape. Our fieldwork will be directed on geophysics data previously collected, to determine key units that will enable us maximum opportunity to test our combined methods. This ‘material’ landscape will be considered 1) socially for its nature, location and purpose of features, 2) functionally, to interpret processes, flows, networks, and services, and 3) symbolically, to identify evidence for presence and action, both past and present.

Thereby through this material engagement we will reconstruct the community that shaped the maritime legacy of St. Catharines. Through examination of the shipyard, the Canal schooner, in conjunction with previous and ongoing underwater archaeological study of this vessel type, this research will establish 1) a chronology of the technological changes incorporated into ship design and propulsion, 2) a correlation between ships and the infrastructure required to build and maintain them, and 3) ascertain resulting changes in the socio-cultural aspects of the local shipbuilding industry.