Final Report of Archaeological Investigations at Poor’s Farm, Cole Harbour Heritage Park, Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

Images courtesy of Sarah Kingston-Penney

The 2009 Poor’s Farm archaeological field investigations, held from July 31, 2009 to August 7, 2009, were an immense success. The intended goal of this year’s research was to continue with the objectives set forth during the 2008 season. As in the previous year, a primary concern of this project was to help support the priorities of the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association (CHPTA), whose intentions are to incorporate existing cultural heritage resources to enhance visitor experience. Locating and mapping building footprints from the original poorhouse is one of the ways the organization would like to achieve their heritage interpretation plans for the park. They have employed the use of archaeological investigations to aid in this purpose and have expressed interest in making archaeology a key and regular component of their long term heritage interpretation strategy for the park.

Community awareness and public involvement in the archaeological process also took precedence during the project. Once again a public archaeology program was implemented during the second week of the investigations that allowed for lay persons to participate in field research under the guidance of archaeological professionals. Over the course of its run, the project hosted 15 public participants ranging from young scholars, local history enthusiasts and retirees. Sixty percent of the volunteers participated on the project for two or more days, a number of which have expressed interest in assisting further with artifact processing and cataloguing.

Eleven days were spent in the field, during which two of the unfinished units from the 2008 season were brought to completion. Results from the large 4m x 4m unit showed remanence of a French drain, as well as two structural pillars. Two additional units were opened based on findings from the previous year, which revealed further evidence of structural remains. Numerous artefacts were retrieved from the excavation, including ceramic pieces, buttons, smoking pipes, bottle glass and butchered animal bones. Of special interest was the recovery of a pewter spoon, with a wooden handle, as well as a knife hand. Both of these items are currently being treated in conservation. All material collected during the investigation fits within the time period of the farms operation.

Further archaeological investigations at Poor’s Farm are warranted to complete the goals of the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association in locating building footprints. Eight structures are suspected to be associated with the poorhouse and at present only one can be partially identified. The goal for the 2010 season will be to continue with the project, again with a concentration on the dormitory area. A number of high potential areas for structural remains can be identified by surface examination, along with EM-38B work that was done in 2006. These locations will be of primary focus during the next field season.

Archaeologist: Sarah Kingston-Penney

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