A/B Jetty project at CFB Esquimalt turns up historical finds

Approximately 7,500 years old, this discoidal core scraping or cutting tool is from a period when the sea level was much lower and the dredge site was dry land.
Approximately 7,500 years old, this discoidal core scraping or cutting tool is from a period when the sea level was much lower and the dredge site was dry land.

A stone cutting tool some 7,500 years old. A doughnut-shaped “sinker” that once weighed down a First Nations fishing net. Lighters emblazoned with naval ship’s badges, ships’ cutlery to glass bottles and brass uniform buttons.

Artifacts such as these are revealing a multi-layered cultural history as they emerge in unexpected volume from sediments dredged near CFB Esquimalt’s A and B jetties, says DCC Site Manager Rick Gudz. “The sediment needs to be managed with care because of the safety aspect, as it may contain unexploded explosive ordnance, and due to the historical nature of what we’re finding,” Gudz says.

Contractors working on this project include Salish Sea Industrial Services Ltd., part-owned by the Esquimalt First Nation and Songhees First Nation. Representatives from both Nations have been added to the contract’s scope, to assist Millennia Research Limited in assessing the artifacts’ cultural and historical value.

James Paul, President and CEO, and Richard Allie.
A barbed-bone spearhead found in the dredge material. Further analysis is currently being conducted on this item.

Stephen Bowen, DCC Coordinator, Project Management at Esquimalt, has created a database that streamlines access to key information about the finds.

The care taken to catalogue and preserve the artifacts is helping to find permanent homes for them. DND is now working on moving artifacts to a location where they can be enjoyed by those interested in the early days of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The University of Victoria has been engaged to help find family members of the original owners, so that the pieces can be returned.

The dredging work is integral to the replacement of the aging, 1940s-era jetties, which will better accommodate current and future RCN needs. It is also vital to the environmental clean up of the Esquimalt Harbour legacy sites.


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