I love my job!…

Okay, so I know that might not be a comment one hears very often, but it’s true, I do love my job.  In my current job, I get to work on the stuff I love, and don’t have much of the administration and other yucky tasks that I could do without.  Plus, when I travel for work, I get to go to really cool places…

Last week I went to Louisbourg NHS in Nova Scotia for work.  I’ve wanted to go to Louisbourg since my parents went 20 years ago and I wasn’t able to go with them, so I was really looking forward to my trip. 

I was there to spend two days participating in and observing their public archaeology program, as I’m working on a public archaeology project.  So I was able to go to a really cool place – Louisbourg, which is a reconstructed fortress which depicts how life was there in 1744 – and I actually was able to participate in an archaeological dig!  How cool is that!

They have 2 one-week public archaeology sessions that regular people can sign up for ahead of time and they get to learn some basic priniciples about archaeology and then they get to actively participate in the dig.  There are archaeologists there to show them what to do, help them understand what they are finding and answer all kinds of questions along the way.  The five people who participated in last week’s sessions were very excited about it.  It was a lifelong dream come true for some of them.  And I was able to join them for two days!  And get paid to do it!  How can one not love a job like that?

Lots of item were found while I was at the dig.  There were different pieces of glass: window glass, bottle glass (usually blue-green, green or brown) and even some from wine glasses.  There was a variety of pieces of pottery: some with tin glaze, some with salt glaze and even this big piece of St. Onge pottery. 

St. Onge Pottery - It has this distinct green glaze.

St. Onge Pottery - It has this distinct green glaze.

Bottle glass

Bottle glass








There were also bone pieces found, including a few teeth and what looked like a bone from the knee of an animal about the size of a goat or a sheep.  Some pieces of metal were also found, but I wouldn’t have recognized them as such if someone hadn’t told me that’s what they were. 

I spent less days digging than the others, so I didn’t find as much, but I did find a piece of a clay pipe stem, some glass, some pottery bits and some bone bits.  These are very mundane objects, but finding them was still quite exciting for me.  Also, it’s all these things, regular objects or unusual ones that give the archaeologists information about that place and how it was used.  And that’s the point of archaeology, it helps us to discover how people and societies before us lived.  And it was very exciting to be able to participate in that, even for two days.

Here’s the group (the five paying participants), hard at work.

Public Archaeology Program Participants - August 14, 2008 - Louisbourg NHS

Public Archaeology Program Participants - August 14, 2008 - Louisbourg NHS

So although my focus during the two days at Louisbourg was the public archaeology program, I also did get to see some of the fortress.  It’s really amazing.  The French began the original construction in 1719.  The place thrived for a time, was attacked and lost to the British in 1745, went back the French three years later, but then fell again to the British in 1758.  The British did not want the French to regain Louisbourg, so that time, they destroyed the town and the walls.  No town was ever built again at the site of the Fortress, so the ruins are very close to the surface, which is just amazing for archaeological research.
In the 1960’s, Parks Canada began reconstruction of a part of the fortress.  Although the reconstructed town is super impressive, only 25% of the original town was reconstructed.  So the actual town would have been four times the size!  Very impressive for a French colony in 1744! 
Now if one visits Louisbourg, one will see some very impressive buildings and people in historical costumes that are interpreting the time period (1744).  One may see people cooking on an open flame, weeding the gardens, shooting off canons, etc.  It’s a very lively place to be. 
French drums, marching through fortress

French drums, marching through fortress

Red carrots in heritage garden.  They taste a bit peppery.

Red carrots in heritage garden. They taste a bit peppery.

View of fortress from a distance

View of fortress from a distance

Porte Frederique - a distinctive feature of the fortress

Porte Frederic - a distinctive feature of the fortress


So I really enjoyed my visit to Louisbourg, and participating in the archaeological dig was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.  And I did this as a part of my job!  I love my job!
Tomorrow I’ll continue with my trip in Cape Breton, which brought me to the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park…

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