In 2000, ASI was retained to conduct a Stage 3 and 4 mitigative excavation of an area in Scarborough (now the city of Toronto) that was planned for a subdivision development. The original Stage 2 investigations of the site area revealed a total of 249 artifacts – 197 of them stone, including one Iroquoian triangular point. The collection provided enough evidence to suggest the area was home to a rather large site. In fact, this mid- to late-fourteenth century ancestral Wendat site turned out to be 2.6 hectares in size and supported up to one thousand people during the height of its occupation.
The Stage 3 and 4 excavations took 8 months to complete. Overall, sixteen longhouses were recorded, eleven areas of activity were documented and three midden deposits were hand-excavated. An unusually high number of sweat lodges (28 in total) were also found on the site, with some entrances shared between houses.These were semi-subterranean features used for curative rituals and other social-political functions. In the end, 19,645 artifacts were recovered and analyzed in the laboratories of ASI.
The ceramic assemblage found at Alexandra points to the occupation possibly extending into the fifteenth century. Several building phases were noted during the house analyses and it was determined that some of the houses were non-contemporaneous, suggesting that the site may have been reoccupied following periods of absence or perhaps changed in function over time. The houses were not surrounded by a palisade, which may imply that the boundaries of, or membership in, the newly formed community were not rigorously defined.
Based on the floral and faunal evidence at Alexandra, the people at Alexandra relied on a typical Late Woodland Iroquoian diet – maize, fleshy fruits, deer, small mammals and fish. The evidence also suggests that the population occasionally chose to consume domesticated dog.
For more detailed information the Alexandra site, download the full report in our Site Reports section.