Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Another Hole in the Ground

Corner of Ochterloney Street and Victoria Road, May 7th, 2014.
As I declared in my very first blog post, I will sometimes use this site to show how our heritage is being destroyed. Today, I heard that large excavation equipment was being used in Downtown Dartmouth. I quickly headed down Ochterloney Street to find that the empty lot on the corner of Victoria Road had been partially bulldozed. As an archaeologist, I noticed artifacts (pieces of broken ceramics, window pane glass and bottle glass) sticking out of the freshly disturbed dirt. From what I could see from a distance, some of the ceramics dated to at least the 19th century and possibly the 18th century. As a kid (not that long ago), there was an auto parts shop on this lot. I hear it is slated to become the site of a new condo development. Hold on while I do a little looking around on the Internet for some concrete information . . . There, I found an HRM Staff document pertaining to the impact of this new development on the neighbouring registered heritage property (use this as a starting point if you would like to look into the matter further):
http://www.halifax.ca/Commcoun/east/documents/711iCase17863DAOchterloneyandVictoria.pdf
I am greatly concerned that there isn't a discussion of the archaeology in the ground on the site actually being developed (as opposed to examining the relationship to neighbouring sites). Clearly (just from looking from the sidewalk), there were several levels of historic occupation on this site. In my opinion, there should be an archaeologist on hand to examine the disruption of an area of high archaeological potential. Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain why this corner lot is worth monitoring/protecting:
In the 1750s, the town plot of Dartmouth, set out  by surveyor Charles Morris (http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/morris_charles_1711_81_4E.html), extended all the way from the water (Water Street, modern-day Alderney Drive) to Victoria Road and from North Street to Portland Street (Front Street). The town, with a perimeter of about 3/4 of a mile, was surrounded by a wooden palisade and four or five blockhouses. Today's torn-up lot would fall within this boundary, which includes it in the oldest part of one of the oldest communities in the country! Surely, it is worthy of an archaeological survey. Stay tuned for more information on this intriguing property.





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