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Archaeological Assessment and Mitigation

Land development in Ontario requires that a archaeological assessment be conducted to ensure that cultural heritage resources will not be impacted by that development. Woodland Heritage Northwest can and will conduct the applicable Stage 1 through Stage 4 assessments to ensure compliance with The Ontario Heritage Act and also to ensure your responsibility towards cultural heritage resources as part of your overall development plans.

Woodland Heritage Northwest has conducted Stage 1 through 4 archaeological assessments for the following types of clients and projects

  • FIT Projects
  • Solar Farms
  • Wind Farms
  • New Hydroelectric developments
  • Hydro-electric retrofits and upgrades
  • Transmission line corridors
  • Forest access road and bridge planning
  • Forest resource harvesting
  • New Mine planning and expansion
  • Aggregate permits
  • Winter road planning
  • Subdivisions
  • Cottage lot development
  • Industrial land development
  • Municipal cultural heritage master plans
  • Highway corridor planning
  • Highway resurfacing and culvert improvement
  • Emergency salvage
  • First Nations values mapping and research
  • Dam replacements and upgrades
  • Provincial park planning and heritage mapping

All stages of Archaeological Assessments require notification to the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries of the proposed work and involve an extensive report detailing the work that was completed.  All work has to abide by the regulations as set out by the 2011 Standards and Guidelines for Consulting Archeologists

Stage 1: A Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment is a comprehensive survey of the geographic land use and historical information that pertains to the development.  Using several sources of information, Woodland Heritage Northwest examines satellite, TOPO maps and relevant archival information to determine whether or not there is potential for archaeological resources on the property.  When possible, a field inspection must be competed to document resources on the property.  This provides important, firsthand insights into the condition of the property, and serves to narrow the scope of any necessary Stage 2 assessment and allow for well-informed recommendations.

Stage 2: The Stage 2 Archaeological Assessment serves to determine the presence of any unknown archaeological resources that might be present in the identified areas from the Stage 1.  This involves a field inspection of the footprint of the development whereby a pedestrian survey is conducted as well as shovel tests as appropriate.   The nature and procedures of the shovel testing is mandated by the Ontario Government and varies depending on location and the nature of the surrounding terrain.  If archaeological resources are discovered, Stage 2. Woodland Heritage Northwest is fully capable in determining appropriate measures for next steps. 

Stage 3: If resources are significant enough to warrant further investigations, Stage 3 Archaeological Assessments are site specific.  They include a wide variety of measures including further historical research, mapping of artifact finds and the controlled excavations of a portion of the site.  These excavations aid in interpretation of the context, nature and size of the site.  The methods utilized during a Stage 3 assist the archaeologist in better understanding the complexities and nature of archaeological sites and help in determining if Stage 4 mitigation is required.

Stage 4: Also known as Mitigation, Stage 4 Archeological Assessments are only employed if recoveries from the Stage 3 are productive enough.  There are two options at this point: namely avoidance or salvage.  Working with the client, if measure can be employed to avoid the finds and preserve the site in its context.  If this is not possible, then excavation of the site is required.  Excavation involves controlled removal of the archaeological resources in such a way that the cultural value of the site (artifacts, research data) is conserved for future use. In all possible outcomes, Woodland Heritage Northwest works with clients and communities to ensure that recoveries are used for activities that include tourism, education, research, cultural ceremonies, and respectful curation.

Archaeological Predictive Modelling

Cultural heritage resources are defined by the Ontario Government as including both known resources (recorded/registered locations and locations reported by First Nations) and high potential resources (as determined by archaeological predictive models). We will work closely with you or your clients (forest industry, transportation industry, mining industry, First Nations communities) and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports to (1) identify the location of cultural heritage resources , and then (2) determine the most appropriate management strategy for ensuring the protection of those resources. We have developed innovative techniques to ensure the protection of cultural resources while concurrently striving to minimize the impact to the development in question.

Woodland Heritage Northwest has many years of experience working with forest management planning teams in Northern Ontario. We have worked with major transportation development project along Hwy 69, Hwy 17, Hwy 11 and innumerable smaller highways across the north.

Woodland Heritage Northwest has conducted cultural heritage assessments for wind farm developments, new hydro-electric projects, and existing hydro-electric project upgrades and improvements.

Woodland Heritage Northwest has conducted numerous cultural heritage assessments for mining projects across northern Ontario – both large and small.

Additionally, we are internationally-recognized leaders in developing and applying models of archaeological site potential. We have also been involved in the development of cultural heritage policy for the OMNR and also in the revision of the Forest Management Guidelines for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Resources

  • Determination of Archaeological/Cultural Heritage Site Potential using archaeological predictive modelling
  • Native Background Information Report
  • Native Values Maps
  • Screening of planned operations in areas of high archaeological potential
  • Determination of disturbance levels of forest operations
  • Long term heritage assessment planning
  • Ensuring that forest operations are in compliance with the cultural heritage protection requirements
  • as defined in the Forest Management Planning Manual, the Timber Management Guidelines for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Resources and The Heritage Act

Risk Management and Screening

Northern Ontario is a remote undeveloped region and exploration of mines for minerals and other resources.  Woodland Heritage Northwest has extensive experience and can assist in pre-screening of areas whereby proposed development could impact high potential areas.  Woodland Heritage Northwest works closely with clients to ensure that they are complying with legislative requirements such as the Ontario Heritage Act as well as any Environmental Assessment requirements. 

First Nation Engagement

Communities in Northern Ontario often want to be engaged, and with current laws, it’s the duty of the proponent to ensure that work that is performed.  Through a collaborative process, Woodland Heritage Northwest can work with communities through meetings, band council engagement and participation within community activities to ensure the members are heard and concerns are voiced.  This process ensures that the community feels a part of the process and that their issues are both valid and heard.  Woodland Heritage Northwest has worked with a number of communities such as; Fort William, Red Rock (Opwaaganasiniing), Rocky Bay (Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek), Lake Helen, Big Island (Anishnaabeg of Naongashiing), Keewaywin, Neskantaga, Lac des Mille Lac (Nizaatikoong), Ojibways of Pic River (Biigtigong Nishnaabeg) and Whitesand to name a few.  Woodland Heritage Northwest can work with the client as well as First Nation community to ensure concerns are addressed and the development is handled in a professional and culturally appropriate manner.

Non-Invasive Investigations

Sometimes resources are buried beneath the soils, but the soils cannot be disturbed.  In these rare cases, Woodland Heritage Northwest can provide options such as Ground Penetrating Radar and Drone imagery to aid in assessing what is below the surface. These cases usually involve special sites such as burials whereby disturbance of the remains can be an incredibly sensitive to all parties involved.  The Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act (FBCSA) ensures cemeteries are properly identified, managed and protected. The Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) and Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) ensure compliance with the FBCSA and offer guidance on how to address accidental discoveries of ancestral remains and manage the precise locating of interments in aging cemeteries where burials may no longer be marked by stones. Woodland Heritage Northwest takes pride in embracing a respectful process to preserving Ontario’s cultural heritage and will work with developers, communities and municipalities to ensure any type of project is investigated with the utmost care and respect.