Hidden amongst a rural landscape rich in pre-contact archaeological sites, Edward Blacker and his sons operated a relatively short-lived, later 19th century brick works. Stage 4 archaeological salvage excavations of Blacker’s brickworks, located outside of Brantford, provided a rare opportunity to investigate brick manufacture in 1870s Ontario. This paper discusses how the topographic challenges of the site were overcome in preparation of the brickyard, as well as what the archaeological remains revealed about the industrial processes from mineral extraction and clay preparation through to the firing of ceramic building materials. It also provides insight into the importance to subsequent generations of returning the land to agricultural use following the relatively short-lived period of industrialization.
Blacker’s brickworks represents a major source of the bricks used to construct many of the nineteenth-century houses that give Brantford much of its visual character. As an archaeological resource, it is unique in that it is the first instance in southern Ontario in which a rural, small-scale industrial brick-making operation has been discovered and investigated and so advances historical understandings of a past manufacturing industry, which has been little documented.