Ancient suspects cleared in Viking mystery tale

From the Edmonton Journal: Ancient suspects cleared in Viking mystery tale.

It’s the oldest whodunit in Canadian history, and new research has conclusively ruled out one of the suspect aboriginal groups behind the retreat of Viking would-be colonists from the New World.

A scientific redating of the eastward migration of the Thule — ancestors of modern-day Inuit — has pegged their push across Canada’s polar frontier to no earlier than AD 1200. That’s at least 150 years after Norse voyagers from Greenland are believed to have abandoned their short-lived, 11th-century settlement at the northern tip of Newfoundland following hostile encounters there, and in Labrador, with native inhabitants they called Skraelings.

Because of their relatively late arrival in northern Canada — originally set by experts at about AD 1000 — the Thule (pronounced "too-ley") have always been outside contenders in the long-running quest to identify the people who scared the Vikings out of Canada. [continue]

Wait worth it for patient truffles harvesters

Goodness! Somebody’s growing truffles on Vancouver Island. From the Vancouver Sun: Wait worth it for patient truffles harvesters.

It took seven years for Betty and Grant Duckett to harvest their first truffle, but for them it was worth the wait.

The couple retired to Vancouver Island after years of raising livestock on the Prairies. They wanted to grow truffles, so they bought a 40-acre spread near Parksville, levelled the old pasture land, readied the soil, dug wells, and planted more than 5,000 trees inoculated with black Périgord truffle spores, and then waited.

"It was a decision that was hard to make because it was such an investment," Betty says. "We knew it would be years and years of trying. No one in Canada had ever done it, so no one could help us."

Last December, the couple’s wait finally came to an end when they harvested Canada’s first crop of the black Périgord. [continue]

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Inuit oral stories could solve mystery of Franklin expedition

From the National Post: Inuit oral stories could solve mystery of Franklin expedition.

More than 150 years after the disappearance of the Erebus and Terror — the famously ill-fated ships of the lost Franklin Expedition — fresh clues have emerged that could help solve Canadian history’s most enduring mystery.

A Montreal writer set to publish a book on Inuit oral chronicles from the era of Arctic exploration says she’s gathered a “hitherto unreported” account of a British ship wintering in 1850 in the Royal Geographical Society Islands — a significant distance west of the search targets of several 19th- and 20th-century expeditions that have probed the southern Arctic Ocean for Canada’s most sought-after shipwrecks. [continue]

The legend of Camossung

Here’s a a Coast Salish legend. From the Camosun College website: The Legend of Camossung.

After the flood, the transformer Haylas was travelling with Raven and Mink teaching the people how things were to be done.

They found a young girl, named Camossung and her grandfather. She was crying, so Haylas asked her why. She answered, "My Father is angry with me and will not give me anything to eat."

Haylas asked her if she liked sturgeon, and when she answered "no" he threw the sturgeon to the Fraser River. That is why there are sturgeons there and not here. He asked her if she liked cranberries and when she answered "no" he threw them into the Shawnigan Lake. That is why there are cranberries there now. [continue]

Ancient fort opens new chapter in First Nations’ history

From EurekAlert: Ancient fort opens new chapter in First Nations’ history.

A fortified village that pre-dates European arrival in Western Canada and is the only one of its kind discovered on the Canadian plains is yielding intriguing evidence of an unknown First Nations group settling on the prairies and is rekindling new ties between the Siksika Nation (Blackfoot) and aboriginal groups in the United States.

This spring, students from the U of C’s Department of Archaeology are spending several weeks working on a dig near Cluny, about 120 kilometres east of Calgary, as part of a project that is expected to continue for several years unearthing one of Alberta’s most significant archaeological sites. Known as the Cluny Fortified Village, the site on the Siksika First Nation reservation next to the Bow River is more than 250 years old and is an enigma to archaeologists who say it may have been home to a small band of normally-sedentary people from North Dakota.

"Tipi camps whose remains are the rings of tipi-anchoring stones left behind after the camps were abandoned were the usual dwelling sites in Alberta for thousands of years," said Dale Walde, director of the U of C’s field school who is overseeing the excavation. "This site has no tipi rings, instead it looks more like villages 1,500 kilometres away on the Missouri River in southern North Dakota." [continue]

Copyright for Canadians

Hey, Canadians! This needs your attention. From Copyright for Canadians:

Forward-thinking reform to copyright is possible: laws that recognise the growth and importance of the Internet, open source software, and new business models for creators. Canada could take the initiative, and lead the world.

Instead, new legislation proposed by this government will be a complete sell-out to the United States’ government and media’s demands. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act — a law that the U.S. passed in 1997 and has been widely seen as a damaging failure — will be imported wholesale. Instead of inviting a new era, Canada will repeat all the mistakes of the last decade.

This will not be a copyright law for Canadians. It looks like it will be a copyright law from entrenched U.S. lobbyists and politicians. Join us, and fight back! [continue]

Centuries-old sketch comes home

From the Globe and Mail: Centuries-old sketch comes home.

He stares at us from centuries past, a clear, unflinching gaze attesting to his status as a great warrior chief of the Musqueam. Strands of long, dark hair curl past his shoulders and he wears a stylish conical cedar hat adorned with feathers.

Call him Qeyapaplanewx. That we know about him at all is thanks to a young Spanish cabin boy with an agile sketch pen who drew the Musqueam chief during a visit by his country’s navy to the waters off Point Grey in June of 1792.

As such, he is the first identified resident of what has long been Canada’s third-largest city, on lands once fished and hunted solely by the Musqueam.

Yet Jose Cardero’s remarkable drawing, squirrelled away for years in a dark storage area of the Naval History Museum in Madrid, is virtually unknown in Vancouver.

Not any more. Yesterday, the portrait came back — or at least a version of it.

In a ceremony on Qeyapaplanewx’s old [continue, see sketch]

Vinegar Bible returns to Nova Scotia

From With a little bit of vinegar, rare Bible returns to N.S..

Richard Luckett knew he had a problem when a water pipe burst in his college room where 10,000 books – some dating back 400 years – lined the walls from one end to the other.

"Water is the worst possible thing for books," he said in telephone interview late last week from the historic Pepys Library of Magdalene College in Cambridge, England, where Luckett is the librarian.

But in a strange twist of fate, that disaster more than 20 years ago which damaged several books means a nearly 300-year-old Bible is returning home to the fishing hamlet of Lunenburg, N.S.

Among the books damaged that day was a Bible John Baskett printed for King George III. [continue]

(Link found at Rare Book News)

Iceman’s family found

From the Vancouver Sun: Iceman’s family found.

Sisters Sheila Clark and Pearl Callaghan of Whitehorse clutched each other’s hands and blinked back tears Friday as they talked about their ancestor Kwaday Dan Ts’inchi, better known as Long Ago Person Found.

Eight days ago, 17 aboriginal people from northern B.C., Yukon and Alaska were told that DNA testing has proved they are direct descendants of the iceman.

The body of the young aboriginal man was found in 1999 by three hunters at the foot of a melting glacier in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, part of the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. [continue]

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School fights to revive native Canadian language

From Reuters: School fights to revive native Canadian language.

In a grey, shed-like building on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve in southern Ontario, Esenogwas Jacobs is getting her kindergarten students ready to head home for the day.

"Gao dehswe," Jacobs says, calling her students to the door.

"Gyahde:dih," she adds, it’s time to go.

Her students answer with assertive "ehes."

No one speaks a word of English.

"I just use Cayuga with them," Jacobs said. "Mostly they can respond back in Cayuga, so it’s pretty cool." [continue]

Town that banned bags touts golf carts

From the Times Colonist: Town that banned bags touts golf carts.

The tiny town in northern Manitoba that was first in Canada to ban plastic shopping bags is now turning its attention to gas-powered vehicles.

Leaf Rapids Mayor Ed Charrier wants residents to drive electric golf carts around town instead. "Why would you start your vehicle for a two-second ride uptown?" asked Charrier, who plans to buy his own cart next spring. "Jump in a golf cart."

While he doesn’t plan to ban gas-powered automobiles, he will promote energy-saving golf carts. The town of 600 people is only about three kilometres from end to end, with homes, shopping, parks and the lake connected by a network of trails.

"You could take a golf cart on them, cruise around all over and start cutting down on greenhouse gases," said Charrier, who drives a Ford half-ton pickup on the 215-kilometre trips into Thompson, the nearest town.

As an incentive, the town will offer a free golf cart with each of 66 houses that the town bought last March, fixed up and put on the market. (The homes have stood empty since 2002 when the local mine closed.)

Charrier said they’re examining other incentives for residents to switch to golf carts that can travel about 70 kilometres before the batteries need recharging. [continue]


Sea floor off Charlottes may explain how people came to the Americas

From the Vancouver Sun: Sea floor off Charlottes may explain how people came to the Americas.

In a Canadian archeological project that could revolutionize understanding of when and how humans first reached the New World, federal researchers in B.C. have begun probing an underwater site off the Queen Charlotte Islands for traces of a possible prehistoric camp on the shores of an ancient lake long since submerged by the Pacific Ocean.

The landmark investigation, led by Parks Canada scientist Daryl Fedje, is seeking evidence to support a contentious new theory about the peopling of the Americas that is gradually gaining support in scholarly circles. It holds that ancient Asian seafarers, drawn on by food-rich kelp beds ringing the Pacific coasts of present-day Russia, Alaska and British Columbia, began populating this hemisphere thousands of years before the migration of Siberian big-game hunters — who are known to have travelled across the dried up Bering Strait and down an ice-free corridor east of the Rockies as the last glaciers began retreating about 13,000 years ago.

The earlier maritime migrants are thought to have plied the coastal waters of the North Pacific in sealskin boats, moving in small groups.

Over many generations, they migrated from their traditional homelands in the Japanese islands or elsewhere along Asia’s eastern seaboard.

Interest in the theory — which is profiled in the latest edition of New Scientist magazine by Canadian science writer Heather Pringle — has been stoked by recent DNA studies [continue]

Found: site of original Montreal settlement

From Macleans: Archaeologists solve riddle of site of original Montreal settlement.

A nondescript brown warehouse filled with old barrels and rickety pallets is an unlikely site for the spiritual heart of a city.

Yet beneath the worn cement floors of one such warehouse lies what archaeologists believe are the first permanent buildings of the settlement that became Montreal.

"This is where the Montreal adventure began," says archeologist Sophie Limoges, pointing to a large hole in the warehouse floor.

Limoges, who works for Montreal’s Pointe-a-Calliere museum, is in fact pointing to the remains of Fort Ville-Marie, the lost, original French settlement in Montreal.

The fort was built in 1642 and housed as many as 50 early colonists including Montreal’s founder Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and nurse Jeanne Mance. It would have been a key meeting place for aboriginal allies as well as the administrative heart of the colony.

But the exact location of the fort, which was eventually abandoned, has baffled historians since the 19th century. The most recent record of the fort dates from 1683.

Archaeologists got a break in the case when [continue]

Poppy quarter led to U.S. spy warnings

The more I think of this, the more I giggle. From the Globe and Mail: Mystery revealed: Poppy quarter led to U.S. spy warnings.

WASHINGTON — An odd-looking Canadian coin with a bright red flower was the culprit behind the U.S. Defence Department’s false espionage warning earlier this year, The Associated Press has learned.

The odd-looking — but harmless — "poppy coin" was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors travelling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as "anomalous" and "filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology," according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP. [continue, see photo of coin]

Next time we should help these guys think we’ve hidden trackers in their underwear.