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Petite Ville : a spatial assessment of a Métis Hivernant Site



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This overall goal of the thesis is to use the archaeological and historical records to investigate the lifestyle of 19th century Métis winterers or hivernants in the Lower Saskatchewan region. Excavations occurred at the archaeological site of Petite Ville, which is located on the banks of the South Saskatchewan river, north of Saskatoon. Petite Ville was home to approximately 40 Métis wintering families between 1870 and 1874. It was originally planned to excavate several areas of the site, preferably resulting in the identification and exposure of several structures for intra-site comparison. However, the initial excavations concentrated on an area that contained a very large building. The research shifted to an examination and assessment of the architecture and internal organization of the dwelling. The limited historical descriptions of Métis dwellings are biased by the observers' European backgrounds and it was hoped that the archaeological data would add new information and a greater understanding of 19th century hivernant Métis homes. The architectural remains and artifact assemblage was used to assess the spatial dimensions and organization of the structure and immediately surroundings. The structural remains represent the largest Métis hivernant structure excavated at present (20 m x 6.5 m) which appears to have three rooms. Each room is hypothesized to house a Métis family and the structure may have housed more than 40 people. The artifact assemblage was also examined for clues about Métis consumption, trade and activities. The 14,000-piece assemblage is unique compared to other excavated hivernant sites because fine-screening was utilized for the entire excavation. This resulted in a collection of artifacts of which 80% are less than 2 cm in size. The assemblage provided information on Métis society and activities, such as jewellery making and the use of fragile earthenware teacups. The assemblage also supports previous assertions that the Métis do not make stone tools and that lithics artifacts are primarily intrusive. Preliminary results of the faunal analysis were also included with thoughts on Métis diet and possible dietary stress caused by the decline of bison population. The results of the Petite Ville excavations were also compared to other archaeological hivernant sites (Buffalo Lake, Kajewski, Kis-sis-away Tanner's Camp and Four Mile Coulee). The inter-site comparison examined similarities and differences in Métis spatial organization and archaeological assemblages. The impact of seasonal and permanent abandonment on the archaeological record was also considered. It is hoped that the intra-and inter-site comparisons have added useful information for future archaeological and historical research into hivernant history and it is believed that the research goals of this study were accomplished.





Master of Arts (M.A.)







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