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Can You Dig It?© 1996 Warden's Residence

Screening for artifacts at the 1996 Warden's Residence excavations.This year was the first year of the “Can You Dig It?”© summer Archaeology Summer Program! The program was conducted for 4 one-week long sessions between July 22 and August 23 1996 with a total registration of 15 participants, aged 9-15. The excavation site was the front lawn of the Correctional Service of Canada Museum, specifically the southeast portion of the property, located at the northwest corner of Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard and King Street West. It encompassed the area of the original entrance, gate and driveway for the Warden's Residence. It is also the area where several structures are indicated on the 1869 Fortification Survey and may represent the 1830's militia barracks and stables.

Investigating the site to gather information on occupation prior to the construction of the Warden's Residence in 1871 was of interest, since little is known of the early development of the Kingston Penitentiary property outside the walls of the institution. In addition, archival research has indicated that the militia was stationed at this location during the Upper Canada Rebellion in the 1830s and then during the Fenian raids of the 1860s.

The period of 1833 to 1873 was of particular interest to us, since in 1833 the construction of the "Provincial Penitentiary of Upper Canada" (adjacent to this particular site) began. As well various extensive settlement and construction projects, including the establishment of "Portsmouth Village" itself, were carried out in the immediate area subsequent to the commencement of the penitentiary project. Screening for artifacts at the 1996 Warden's Residence excavations.The later date of 1873 represents the completion and occupation of "Cedarhedge", the Kingston Penitentiary warden's residence built for Warden John Creighton and his family. This building was erected immediately across King Street from the main-gate of Kingston Penitentiary. It is this building that now houses the Correctional Service of Canada Museum.

In general, a large number of artifacts were recovered, but minimal structural remains were located. A total of 2,809 artifacts representing the early 19th through to the mid 20th century period were uncovered. Due to the wide date range in a single lot and the overall context of these lots within the site, it can be said that most of the artifacts have come from landscaping fill which dates to the time of the construction of the Warden's Residence during the early 1870s. There are, however, several interesting artifacts including a horse bridle buckle, a single-blade pocket knife with mother-of-pearl handle, a fishing line swivel and hook, a spigot, a small lock, a celluloid lice comb and slate pencils.