Archaeological Mysteries in the Ottawa Area

In Defence of Bédard's Landing

The grounds of the Canadian Museum of Civilization straddle a portion of Bédard's Landing which is shared with a parking lot of the Scott Paper plant in Gatineau (Hull sector), directly across from Parliament Hill (Brousseau 1984:36).  The embayment lying between the point on which the former ferry landing was located and the Alexandra Bridge (i.e. where the Museum buildings are currently situated) is known to have yielded archaeological remains in the mid to late XIXth century.  Such a reference is found in Sowter's writings:

The East Block of Parliament; photo: Jean-Luc Pilon
  The East Block of Parliament in Ottawa.

"One may observe, on approaching Hull by the Alexandra bridge, an extensive cut bank of sand and gravel, between the E. B. Eddy Co.'s sulphide Mill and the end of the bridge, and between Laurier Ave., and the river.  This is the place from which the late Edward Haycock procured sand for building purposes on the Eastern and Western Blocks of the Departmental buildings, at Ottawa.  During the excavation of this bank, a great many Indian relics were discovered, such as womens' (sic) knives, arrow-heads, tomahawks and pottery, but no description of this pottery is, obtainable.  Here, according to white and red tradition, many bloody encounters took place between parties ascending or descending the river." (1909:94)

View towards Parliament Hill from CMC; photo: Jean-Luc Pilon

Additionally, there is a series of bone implements in the collections of the McCord Museum in Montréal which are reported to have been recovered from “Redard's (sic) Landing, Hull” and to have been in the “Van Cortlandt” collection (these and other items attributed to the Van Cortlandt collection were accessioned in October of 1937 into the collections of the Ethnological Museum of McGill University, some 62 years after his passing) (Ghislaine Lemay, personnal communication August 2004).

Clearly, this was an area of sustained use by Native people for many centuries, and all indications are that it was one end of a portage leading over the Chaudière Falls as well as a temporary camping place.  It would thus not be entirely surprising to learn that a burial place had also been located nearby.

At the site now occupied by the Canadian Museum of Civlization, on the shores of the Ottawa River, directly across from Parliament Hill, ancient artefacts were found during the mid-XIXth century that bear witness to the long use of the area by First Nations.

Introduction | Dr. Edward Van Cortlandt | A Comparison of Two Articles

The Burden of Proof | In Defence of Bédard's Landing | T.W. Edwin Sowter's Certainty

Final Considerations | 1843 Bytown Gazette Article | 1853 Van Cortlandt Article

References Cited