From Goose Drops to Spec Ops: A Pinfire Shotgun Shell from Fort York

International Journal of Historical Archaeology, Vol. 20 no. 4 (2016)
Blake C. M. Williams
International Journal of Historical Archaeology

In 2011, during a salvage excavation at the Fort York National Historic Site, Archaeological Services Inc. (ASI) recovered a pinfire shotgun shell cartridge. This unique small find tells a story of the ebb and flow of the firearms technology used by armed forces around the world. It also shows how the pinfire shotgun was likely brought to Fort York in response to the Trent Affair. This international incident during the American Civil War risked a return to hostilities between Britain and the United States and sparked a defensive rearmament across the colony of Canada. This artifact also highlights the military evolution of the shotgun from a hunting tool brought to the battlefield by ragtag militia, to cutting edge weaponry used by military special forces around the world.