“Feature” Employee: Martin Cooper

Meet one of our four former partners and ASI’s Manager of Northern Ontario: Martin Cooper.

When he’s not cycling the 20+ km from Thornhill to the ASI head office, you might find this canoe-lover in goal on the ice hockey rink or planning his next winter camping adventure.

How did you become an archaeologist?

When I was 10 years old our camp cabin visited the Warminster site, which is considered by some to be the Wendat village of Cahiague visited by Champlain in 1615. The site was being excavated by the University of Toronto. I was amazed by what the crew was uncovering and later that fall I read Stuart Piggot’s Approach to Archaeology. That’s when I decided I wanted to be an archaeologist.

Where did you go to school?

University of Western Ontario for undergraduate and the University of Toronto for graduate work.

If you weren’t an archaeologist, what would you be?

Park ranger.

Who is your favourite historical figure and why?

an Algonquin ogemaw from the Ottawa Valley who commanded great authority in military and trade matters during the first half of the seventeenth century. Yroquet was an enigmatic individual who seemed to appear and disappear at all the critical times, meeting Champlain in 1609 on the St. Lawrence and a decade later hunting with 20 of his men in the Neutral Country and taking over 500 beaver.

If you were an artifact what would you be?

A seventeenth century polychrome glass trade bead hanging from a Cheveux Relevé nose ring.

What is your favourite site memory? 

In 1977, Ian Kenyon and I spent two sweltering weeks excavating a wattle and daub covered longhouse at Liahn I, a Springwells phase Western Basin Tradition site near Lake St. Clair. Of course in the evenings we were able to find relief from the 100+ temperatures in the air conditioned confines of the Captain’s Chair in Mitchell’s Bay.

My least favourite thing about archaeology is…

…sun exposure.

To pass the time on site, I…

…tell stories.

When I’m not working, I like to…

…commute to work by bicycle from Thornhill and do long distance Randonneur events; play goal for the Alterra Padres (20th year) and Thursday night pick up games (36th year ); and go on canoe trips and winter camping trips.

My motto is…

1. You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough – William Blake

2. To look good is already to go fast- Paul Fournel

If I could go back in time and excavate/explore any site/building in the world, I would choose…

…Onguiaahra, the yet-to-be-discovered principle village of the Onguiarahonon who were an affiliate of the Hatiwendaronk (Neutral), located somewhere near the Niagara River and occupied during the first half of the seventeenth century.


McDonald and Cooper on Opeongo Lake
Visiting archaeological sites on Opeongo Lake in Algonquin Park with Craig Macdonald.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge research in Eastern Ontario.
Indigenous Knowledge research in Eastern Ontario.
Marty undertaking research at Quetico Provincial Park.
Marty undertaking research with the ROM at Quetico Provincial Park.