A Day in the Field: Ontario Archaeology

To celebrate #InternationalArchaeologyDay, join us for a behind-the-scenes peek at a day in the life of an Ontario field archaeologist!

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an archaeologist? Our staff gets to flex all kinds of muscles on an average workday, including (but by no means limited to):

  • A love of the outdoors (and all the varied weather that comes with working outside)? Check!
  • Keen attention to detail for spotting tiny artifacts or subtle changes in soil colour? Check!
  • Ability to work in a tight-knit team? Check!
  • Get fit at work? Check!

Come see what life is like for an Ontario archaeologist!

The day begins…

Our field crews usually start the day with a hike into site, carrying all the gear they’ll need for the day (and, most importantly, lunches!) (photo by Elena Iourtaeva)

Wait! Tick time! Before we head out into the field, it’s important to always make sure you’ve got the right gear. In this case, full body suits to protect from the archaeologist’s nemesis: the tick. (Photo by Liam Ryan)

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is very important, and not just for the humans! (Photo by Cat Kitchen)

Once we’re geared up, it’s time to start digging! We start pretty early, so a love of sunrises is a must! (Photo by Marie-Annick Prevost)

On to the fieldwork!

Whether you’re starting fresh at a new site or recording features at the end of a Stage 4 block excavation, the total station is an archaeologist’s best friend! Pictured here: Field Tech Jacob Roberts.

The weather is changing quickly this time of year! Field Director Poorya Kashani spotted this frosty center in yesterday’s unit.

Field Tech Cat Kitchen shows off a really deep test unit!

Dance breaks to tamp down back-filled test units are a very important part of the gig. (Photo by Marie-Annick Prevost)

When your site strategy calls for soil-stripping, the archaeologist’s best friend is a gradall. (Photo by Liz Matwey)

Once the gradall is done, we return to hand excavation. The moment of truth: is it a feature?? (Photo by Liam Ryan)


Scoping out the high ground is key when choosing a lunch location! Taylor Cameron and Liam Ryan found this picturesque spot.

Stay hydrated! It’s important to take breaks – Stage 2 field survey is thirsty work! Field Director Robb Bhardwaj snapped this photo of Tech Sean Doyle.

Heading offsite for lunch? Make sure to arrive in style! (Liam Ryan took this photo at the White Feathers country store)

Group photo! Here we have Jacob Roberts, Brandon Reimer, Liam Ryan, Chris Thorne and Taylor Cameron.

Curious about what we found?

When working on pre-contact Indigenous sites, a lot of what we find looks like this ^ small, flaked lithic debitage, a by-product from stone tool manufacture (photo by Stephanie Strain)

But some days, we get lucky! (photo by Stephanie Strain)

Snack break!

There’s nothing better during fieldwork than having a team member who bakes cookies. (Photo by Marie-Annick Prevost)

But fresh fruit is hard to beat too! (Photo by Allan Jones)

More artifacts!

Careful! These pre-contact Indigenous ceramics are very fragile! (photo by Jacob Roberts)

Love digging up heart-shaped bones. (Photo by Poorya Kashani)

Sometimes, we can almost hear the artifacts speaking to us… (Photo by Cat Kitchen)

Cat Kitchen found this small caliber bullet on a historical site.

Liz Matwey’s crew posed for this great group shot

Time to head home!

After a long day of work, it’s finally time to head back home again  (Photo by Liz Matwey)