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Any project in Ontario which involves land disturbance often requires an archaeological assessment prior to development.  Woodland Heritage Northeast Limited routinely conducts Stages 1 through 4 assessments under the Ontario Heritage Act and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) 2011 Standards and Guidelines.  Our assessments will ensure that your project will be in compliance and obtain clearance while maintaining a high standard of documentation and professionalism.

Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment

A Stage 1 archaeological resource assessment is a comprehensive review of the geographic and historical characteristics of a property in order to determine its past suitability for human occupation.  These characteristics form the basis for an evaluation of archaeological potential on and around the property with greater detail and accuracy than a determination of archaeological potential done by a non-archaeologist.  It may be used in place of a determination of archaeological potential by provincial or municipal approval authorities, to determine whether the property requires further archaeological assessment, and to recommend efficient and cost-effective assessment strategies.

Stage 2 Archaeological Assessment

A Stage 2 archaeological resource assessment aims to test those areas of archaeological potential identified during Stage 1.  This survey generally is comprised of systematic sub-surface testing along a five-metre grid, with all soils screened and the contents examined for any artifacts.  When archaeological resources have been identified, the survey is intensified in order to both gain insight into the depth and complexity of the potential archaeological site, as well as to determine initial estimates of the site boundary. 


When artifacts are present, a secondary goal of the Stage 2 is to determine the relative cultural heritage value or interest (CHVI) of the deposit.  If intensified sub-surface testing has determined that the site has limited CHVI, the survey is terminated and the assessment process ends.  However, if the site is considered to have CHVI, recommendations will be made to carry out a Stage 3 site-specific assessment.   Depending on the results of the Stage 3, further Stage 4 work may be recommended. 

Stage 3 Archaeological Assessment

The goal of the Stage 3 site-specific assessment is to determine the extent of the archaeological site as well as to form the base evaluation of the relative cultural heritage value or interest (CHVI) of the archaeological site.  This is generally accomplished through the excavation of 1x1 metre units across and beyond the limits of the archaeological site. 


Depending on the results of the test excavation and the corresponding level of CHVI, recommendations will be made to either terminate the assessment process or to proceed to Stage 4 assessment work. 

Stage 4 Archaeological Assessment

The Stage 4 mitigation of development impacts generally involves either the protection of the identified archaeological site or its excavation.  The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) holds the position that avoidance and protection is the preferred approach, and where feasible, it often presents the most cost effective option.  When this is not possible, the complete or partial excavation of the site may be required. 


When excavation is required, the archaeologists are responsible for the careful stratigraphic excavation of the site, recording the locations of all artifacts and features, the collection of soil samples, and the laboratory analysis of the recovered artifacts.  The reporting requirements for Stage 4 work are sufficient to document all significant aspects of the archaeological site excavated, and generally are more stringent than Stage 1 – 3 reporting.

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