Northeastern Section - 42nd Annual Meeting (12–14 March 2007)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 11:35 AM


KELLEY, Alice R., School of Earth & Climate Sciences, Climate Change Institute, and Depart. of Anthropology, University of Maine, Bryand Global Science Center, Orono, ME 04469, ALLEN, Patricia, Durham Bridge, NB E6C 1N9, Canada, KELLEY, Joseph T., Earth Science Department, University Of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5790 and KELLEY, Samuel E., Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4J5, Canada,

Alston Point, is a spit at the mouth of Bathurst Harbor on southern Baie Chaleur, New Brunswick, Canada. The point was the site of the 18th century occupation of Commodore George Walker, including “a splendid and elegantly furnished summer residence, five large stores, a requisite number of out buildings and a tolerably strong battery.” The complex represented a major English occupation of the area until the storehouse was burned by American privateers in 1777. By the 20th century, the area had become a popular recreational site and provincial/municipal park. Commodore Walker's establishment was part of local legend, but its location was unknown. The entire park property was declared a New Brunswick Protected Historic Site in 2002. Historic information was combined with analyses of maps and aerial photographs to assess landscape changes, and identify potential locations of the storehouse site. In 2003, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey of the highest potential locations identified a strong, horizontal reflector truncating underlying dipping (spit platform) strata. This reflector was hypothesized to represent a compacted horizon, produced by human occupation. Archaeological excavations in 2003 and 2005 revealed that the reflector was associated with Native and 16th through 19th century European/Canadian artifacts, as well as charcoal flecks, but that large portions of the site had been impacted by overwash following the 18th century occupation. Examination of topographically higher portions of the site discovered evidence of a stratum containing food bones, gun flints, and variety of 18th century ceramics, over a 5-6 cm thick layer of beach gravel. A discreet Native American horizon consisting of charcoal, soft-shelled clamshells, and quartz flakes, dated to 600 BP was encountered beneath the gravel. Based on geological and archaeological analysis, this location is the site of Commodore Walker's Alston Point occupation. Walker selected an elevated location, on the site of a prior Native occupation. He prepared the building area with a layer of locally derived gravel, and furnished the home with high quality goods associated with a colonist of Walker's stature. The identification of the cultural GPR reflector played an integral role in identifying this part of Canada's heritage.