Updated: Feb 5, 2021
Welcome to the April edition of our 50 in 50 blog series, where we highlight 5 different artifacts from the Transcona Museum's collections every month. There will be a total of 50 artifacts discussed by the time we reach our last post in October 2018. This series is done in commemoration of our 50th Opening Anniversary of the Transcona Museum. For this month's edition, we will be discussing a selection of artifacts from our Archaeology & Ethnology Collection.
#16 - TA70.- / TE70.- / TH99.48.-
Cecil H. Patterson Archaeological Collection
Throughout his life, Cecil H. Patterson was active in the collecting of Indigenous peoples' artifacts. While the majority of his collection was acquired in The Pas area of Northern Manitoba, the collection also features artifacts from across North America. A total of approximately 80 archaeological sites are represented, providing a glimpse of pre-European contact life in the boreal forest, aspen parkland, and prairie regions of Manitoba.
In 1968, Mr. Patterson stated his intentions to sell his collection. Although he had many offers from museums and collectors in the United States, he wanted the collection to stay in Manitoba. Principals Birnie Reid and Aleck Robson of the Transcona-Springfield School Division #12 expressed their interest in purchasing the collection as a project celebrating Manitoba's centennial. The project would involve the entire school division and would enlist the efforts of the students and staff to raise the funds through various activities.
In 1970, the collection was purchased and placed on permanent loan to the Transcona Historical Museum for exhibition and storage. The collection was later officially donated to the THM in 1999. A portion of the collection is now on permanent display in the museum's Back Gallery.
#17 - TE70.1-.32 / TH99.48 / TE70.20.1-.3
Beadwork and Quillwork
Beadwork and quillwork are forms of textile embellishment traditionally practiced by Indigenous peoples that employ beads and porcupine quills as an aesthetic element. Before the introduction of glass beads, quillwork was a major decorative element used by the peoples who resided in the porcupine's natural habitat.
Both techniques were used to create and decorate a variety of items, including clothing such as coats and moccasins, accessories such as bags and belts, and furniture attachments such as a cradle cover. Examples of the collection's beadwork and quillwork will be on display next month in our new exhibition Fabric of Transcona: What Makes a Community?
#18 - TA70.1 / TA70.2 / TA70.42 / TH126.96.36.199-2
Clearwater Lake Punctate Pottery Sherds
In archaeology, a sherd is a fragment of pottery. The study of sherds is widely used by archaeologists to date sites and develop chronologies, due to their distinct characteristics. Some characteristics of sherds useful to archaeologists include temper (material added to clay to provide strength), form, and glaze. These characteristics can be used to determine the kinds of resources and technologies used at the site.
Our oldest pottery sherds in the collection date to 1,200 years ago. Called Clearwater Lake Punctate, these types of vessels are globular in shape with a constricted neck. The pottery's most distinctive feature is a single row of punctates, or impression marks, around each vessel's neck. A reconstructed example is currently on display in our newly redesigned archaeology exhibition.
#19 - TA70.1-.88
A large portion of the Patterson collection is concentrated on lithic (stone) artifacts, including projectile points. A projectile point is the detachable tip of an arrow, spear, harpoon, or dart. They come in many sizes and shapes and are made of a wide variety of materials, including stone, wood, shell, glass, and metal.
Because projectile point styles changed over time, archaeologists can use these artifacts to date sites within very broad time periods. Within our collection, the projectile points cover a considerable time span between 10,000 BCE - 1750 CE and represent the Palaeo Period, the Archaic traditions, and the Woodland cultures of Manitoba.
#20 - TA70.1-.4 / TA70.57 / TA70.87 / TH99.48
In archaeology, a bone tool is a tool created from bone. These tools can conceivably be created from almost any bone, and in a variety of methods. The bone can be fashioned into tools such as awls, pins, fish hooks, needles, flakers, and hide scrapers. Examples of flutes, whistles, and toys made of bone have also found.
Within the collection, the majority of our bone tools are represented by harpoons, awls and needles, whistles, and beads. The bird bone whistles, for example, were used as toys. Bird bone is considered an ideal material for whistles because the bones are naturally hollow and easily carved or cut.
Tune in during the month of May for artifacts #21 - 25
A. Kate Peach, Barry Greco, and Brian J. Lenius, "Precontact Ceramics of Southeastern Manitoba," Manitoba Archaeological Journal 16, no. 1 and 2 (2006): 3-22.
Cecil H. Patterson Archaeological Collection, Transcona Museum.
"Manitoba Culture History Overview," Manitoba Archaeological Society, accessed 14 April 2018.
"Projectile Points of Manitoba," Projectile Points Typology Database, accessed 14 April 2018.