2022 NLAS News- Blog from the President

Hello readers, its been a while! This is Robyn Lacy, 2022 president of the NLAS. Since our last blog post and AGM, our board members have taken a much-needed break, and have been working hard behind the scenes to get the NLAS ready for the 2022 season. We had our second meeting of the year with the board, and have a lot of really exciting things in the works for the upcoming year! It’s getting warmer outside, archaeologists are itching to pick up their trowels and shovels, and we hope you’ll join us for some cool events!

NLAS x Admiralty House Dig

We have teamed up with Admiralty House Communications Museum in Mount Pearl this year! Our board member Elsa Simms is the museum director there, we are planning a small survey and excavation to take place on the grounds of the museum. The NLAs hasn’t directed an excavation in many years, and we are really excited to undertake this project in such a public setting, and give visitors to the museum the chance to see archaeology in action, while finding out a little more about the museum property. This excavation is TBD, but we are hoping it will take place in May/June, with more news coming soon (watch our socials for information as it comes). The Admiralty House grounds are free to visit for the public, so there will be no admission fee to watch our archaeologists excavating and recording artifacts…and maybe even get you hands dirty too!

F.A.B.S. Talks: Ferryland & More!

Dr. Barry Gaulton speaking to our field trip group at Ferryland, 2022

We are finally getting the FABS (Friday Afternoon Beer Sessions) series rolling again for the springtime. We are within the 400th anniversary year of the founding of the Colony of Avalon at Ferryland, and are tailoring our FABS talks this year to have many speakers who research and work at the site. Last summer, we did a field trip with our members to Ferryland, with lunch at Ferryland Picnics, and had an amazing time! We’re setting up our spring/summer FABS schedule right now, and I’ll be posting it as soon as dates and speakers are finalised. Talks will include graveyards, the famous ‘Colony Cook-off’ and working in the historic kitchen, and industry at the site. It’s not just Ferryland, and we hope that you’ll join us for some interesting talks from researchers in the province.

1st Annual Mount Pearl Renaissance Fair

We at the NLAS are so excited to be participating in the 1st annual Mount Pearl Renaissance Fair, to be held on August 27-28th, 2022, at the rugby field on Ruth Ave, Mount Pearl. This two-day weekend event will be family friendly, and involve medieval story lines arcing over the weekend, sword fighting, food and vendors, and archaeology! We’ll have a tent with our Edukit, artifacts, and hopefully some demonstrations of tool making and other historic skills. We invite you to stop into the tent and learn about archaeology in our province. Costumes are encouraged!

New Logo Rollout & Upcoming Merch!

Finally, we are so pleased to formally announce the new NLAS logo! Created by local artist and illustrator, Mike Feehan, our new logo features some elements of the original design in the form of the font choice, the onion bottle, and the harpoon head, as well as many other images that reflect the vibrant and varied archaeology present in the province. From top centre, moving clockwise, we have: historic nails, onion jug, a beaker, bird tracks, harpoon head, lead cod jigger, oyster shell, heart-shaped locket, human tooth, bone comb, fish skeleton, kaolin clay pipe, the classic trowel, an ulu, and a projectile point.

This new logo represents the cultures and peoples across Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as many aspects of archaeology, from Indigenous to historical, zooarch to labratory analysis, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

The NLAS is currently working with a printer to get new merch underway, in the form of tshirts, potentially hoodies, and tote bags…and mugs were in the discussion at last night’s meeting as well!

It’s going to be an exciting year for the NLAS, as we find new ways to engage with you, our members. If you attended our AGM last fall you’ll know that we have had some issues with our banking, which have nearly been sorted. If you have been trying to email us through our old email regarding membership dues, or pay your dues for 2022, please hold off at the moment until we announce that our online banking is up and running. And please reach out if you have any ideas or events you’d like to see us involved in, or ways you’d like to join us to learn more about the archaeology in this incredible province. We look forward to connecting with you!

Women in NL Archaeology: Priscilla Renouf

In honour of International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month 2021, the NLAS is profiling women who have made contributions to archaeology in Newfoundland and Labrador. Inspired by TrowelBlazers “We’re here. And we always have been,” we celebrate all women in archaeology.

Dr. Priscilla Renouf. Photograph from the Globe and Mail 2014

Dr. Priscilla Renouf devoted her career to understanding past human occupation on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, particularly at Port au Choix. She was an outstanding researcher, mentor, teacher, and supervisor, with a wicked sense of humour and the ability to bring the best out of everyone who crossed her path. Born in St. John’s, Dr. Renouf studied archaeology at Memorial University, supervised in her Master’s thesis by Jim Tuck. Her PhD thesis at Cambridge examined the settlement and subsistence patterns of past hunter-gatherers on the northern coast of Norway.

She returned to Memorial University and in 1984 she began a 30-year research programme at Port au Choix, focused on the unusually large Dorset site of Phillip’s Garden, understanding the cultural entanglements of different cultural groups that simultaneously occupied the same landscape. Her investigations revealed both short- and long-term variability in architecture, household structure, and settlement organization at the site over its 800-year history of occupation. She also led or was associated with investigations at over 150 different sites within Newfoundland and Labrador, researching the role of material culture in traditional small-scale societies, and the interactions between people and their environments.

Priscilla was awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in North Atlantic Archaeology in 2001. She was a member of the founding board of directors at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History). In 2003, she became Chair of the founding board of directors of The Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador. When she became a faculty member at Memorial in 1981, Arctic archaeology was a particularly male-dominated specialty within an already male-dominated discipline. Although not writing from a feminist perspective per se, Priscilla opened space for other women in this realm. Her presence and formidable research output proved an example to students and younger colleagues that Arctic archaeologists did not have to be burly men with beards: women could run major northern field projects and become highly respected researchers in the field. She cared deeply about her students. Lisa Hodgetts and Patty Wells wrote that:

All sites in Newfoundland and Labrador that Dr. Renouf worked on throughout her career.

Her respect for her students, fairness, and confidence in their abilities were an inspiration to them. None wanted to disappoint her, and all endeavored to meet the standard she had set through her own example. Priscilla saw her students through to completion using a mixture of firmness and humour. We recall her thorough and meticulous edits of our written work, which often included witty illustrations of trash cans filled with jargon and guns aimed at poorly worded phases.

Another student, Steve Hull, has calculated some of her impact:

Depending on the research she would have a team of about six students assisting her. So, after nearly 30 years of work that would be 120 to 150 students she directly influenced with her fieldwork. This doesn’t include students she had working in other areas of the Province off the Northern Peninsula like Tim Rast at Burgeo or Lisa Fogt at Cape Ray. It also doesn’t include the thousands of students she would have taught during her university teaching career. The impact she had on Newfoundland and Labrador archaeology just through her students is immeasurable.

She was married to Roger Pickervance, a biologist and chef who supported her career at home as resident editor, and accompanied her into the field, where he participated in her research and conducted his own. On occasion, he also filled in as cook, much to the delight of hungry field crews used to plainer fare. More significantly, with her beloved Roger, Priscilla realized the joys of a balanced life. As Lisa Hodgetts and Patty Wells have written: “To Priscilla, Queen of the Dorset, who helped us discover Sivullirmiut archaeology, inspired us to persist through adversity, and made us laugh. We are better scholars for having worked with her, and better people for having known her.”

With thanks to Lisa Hodgetts, Patricia Wells, Tim Rast, and Steve Hull. Hodgetts, Lisa and Patricia Wells.

Additional Articles:
Priscilla Renouf Remembered: An Introduction to the Special Issue with a Note on Renaming the Palaeoeskimo Tradition. Arctic, 69(5), Supplement 1. https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/arctic/article/view/67716/51612

Hull, Stephen. 2014. Dr Priscilla Renouf. Inside Archaeology. https://nlarchaeology.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/dr-priscilla-renouf/

Rast, Tim. 2014. Dr. Priscilla Renouf. Elfshot. http://elfshotgallery.blogspot.com/2014/04/dr-priscilla-renouf.html