Boyd Archaeological Field School

Toronto And Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is pleased to announce that registration for the 2024 Boyd Archaeological Field School (BoydFS) is now open!

DATES: August 9 to 25, 2024

Register Now

Durham District School Board – Continuing Education
Durham Continuing Education logo

Founded in partnership with the Royal Ontario Museum and TRCA in 1975, the Boyd Archaeological Field School (BoydFS) is Canada’s only high school credit course offering students the opportunity to earn Ontario High School Credits while participating in real archaeological fieldwork.

BoydFS has assisted with the documentation of several Ontario archaeological sites, most recently conducting excavations at the Sebastien site, a 700-year old Middle Iroquoian village located in Pickering, Ontario.

“This course has been a life changing experience. I absolutely loved everything … Thanks to all the staff members and the student’s for making this journey so memorable!”Shamim

Since 1975, more than 1,200 Canadian and international students have experienced local archaeology through the program. Many alumni have gone on to pursue post-secondary studies, advanced degrees and careers in archaeology, anthropology, Indigenous law, and related fields.




About the Course

The Boyd Archaeological Field School takes place at the Claremont Nature Centre. Students gain important background material on archaeology and indigenous history through classroom sessions, and get full on-the-job training in real archaeological skills.

This experiential course challenges students to strive for new levels of achievement in a team environment. Learning experiences include:

  • Excavation of a real archaeological site.
  • Hands-on activities such as flintknapping and other ancient technologies.
  • An academic classroom component featuring sessions led by certified teachers and professional archaeologists, as well as guest lectures from leading experts.
  • Career and community connections.

female student takes part in Boyd Field School archaeological dig


A combination of field work and classroom studies confers a Grade 12 Interdisciplinary Studies credit (IDC4U/O) and a Grade 11 Co-op credit, DCO3O – Creating Opportunities through Co-op. The course meets credit expectations defined by the Ontario Ministry of Education


  • Completion of Grade 10 at time of course


Course instructors include certified Ontario teachers, licensed archaeologists, Indigenous educators and respected professionals in a variety of specialties.


Claremont Nature Centre is an outdoor education facility on conservation land in Pickering Ontario. The dorms, classrooms, lounge, and dining hall are all housed in a cedar chalet-style building constructed in 1970. Learn more about Claremont.

exterior of Claremont Nature Centre
interior of Claremont Nature Centre
back deck of Claremont Nature Centre


Field Component
Students will excavate at the Sebastien site in Pickering, 10 minutes by school bus from Claremont Nature Centre. In the 14th century, this site was the location of an ancestral Wendat settlement of unknown size.

“I just wanted to take the time to tell you how thrilled [we] were that Rachel got an opportunity to attend this school. She truly enjoyed it and said even though it was one of the hardest experiences of her life, it was also one of the best! … I do know this program helped make her a stronger, more mature and focused individual.” — David and Asia Belcher

Students, working in pairs, are responsible for the complete scientific excavation of a two-metre square, the recovery of any artifacts within, and the mapping of features that will eventually lead to a complete map of the village.

Students will contribute real archaeological data to our knowledge of this time period in southern Ontario history.

All excavation is supervised by TRCA’s licensed professional archaeologists and their staff of field assistants. Staff also conduct laboratory sessions on artifact identification and other fieldwork-related topics.

Boyd Field School students work on archaeological excavation at Sebastien site

Classroom Component
While some content is delivered through lectures and seminars, the non-field portion of our course includes many hands-on, outdoor sessions devoted to activities such as flintknapping and other ancient technologies. In addition to our own teaching staff, leading guest experts offer instruction as well.

Sample topics:

  • What is archaeology: an introduction to archaeological theory
  • Archaeological excavation
  • Analysis and identification of artifacts
  • Flintknapping (stone tool-making workshop)
  • Origins: First Peoples of the Americas
  • The Palaeo period
  • Life in the Intense Diversification period (hands-on recreations of ancient technologies)
  • Awareness of human interactions with the natural environment
  • Iroquoian Society: the Huron-Wendat at the time of contact
  • Introduction to modern Indigenous philosophies, worldview and contemporary social issues


$2,900.00 + HST (must be a Canadian resident to apply)

Includes the following:

  • 17 days of meals and accommodation
  • School bus to excavation site
  • Teaching staff
  • Guest lecturers
  • 1:5 staff to student ratio at excavation site


August 9 to 25, 2024

Register Now

Boyd Archaeological Field School student displays artifact at dig site
Boyd Archaeological Field School student displays artifact at dig site
Boyd Archaeological Field School student displays artifact at dig site

Scholarships & Bursaries


This scholarship, covering the full tuition for the course ($2,900.00), is available to any Canadian high school students of First Nations, Métis, or Inuit heritage.

female Indigenous student works on a site excavation at the Boyd Archaeological Field School


  • Available to any Canadian high school student of First Nations, Métis or Inuit heritage.
  • Students should have completed Grade 10, and be no older than 21 years at the time of the course.
  • Students will be asked to complete an application form and provide a 500-word personal essay.
  • Students should provide two letters of reference from a community leader (such as an elder or council member), teacher, principal, or guidance counselor. View the reference letter guidelines
  • Submissions will be reviewed by a volunteer selection committee of TRCA educators and archaeologists. The committee may contact the students’ references as part of the selection process. The committee may arrange interviews with finalists if necessary


Providing one bursary in the amount of $1,415.00 towards the total cost of tuition to help a deserving student attend the Boyd Archaeological Field School.


  • Applications will be received from high school students in a letter-based format, with a supporting letter of reference from a high school teacher.


Contact us at:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I’m not a student in the Durham District School Board. Can I take the course?

A: Any student who is a Canadian resident qualifies to take the course for credit. Foreign students can take the course, but additional fees apply to receive Ontario High School Credits.


Q: Why is the course so expensive?

A: The cost per day is comparable to similar courses that provide a high school credit, accommodation and meals. It is also comparable to the cost of summer camp for the same length of stay.

It should be noted that the course has a higher than usual staff-to-student ratio, as the site must be properly supervised and excavated to the standards required by archaeological regulations. The benefit to students is that there are always staff on site available for help with homework assignments and study.

Boyd Archaeological Field School students work on excavation at dig site

Q: Can you accommodate students with special needs?

A: Every year, students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) take the course. We ask that a copy of the IEP is provided to staff in advance of the course. Students with IEPs benefit from the course’s high staff-to-student ratio.

Claremont Nature Centre was recently renovated to make it more accessible to students with mobility issues. There is an all-terrain wheelchair on site.


Q: Will I need to bring spending money?

A: It’s not essential, but students may wish to purchase the course t-shirt for $20. Also, some of our guest speakers may have books for sale, and our field trip may take us to locations with gift shops.


Q: What special equipment will I need?

A: Green patch work boots (steel toe/sole), plumb bob, tape measure, line level, dustpan. (We’ll go over all of this at the pre-course meeting.)


Q: I really want to take this course, but I already have an IDC4U course and can’t get credit for another one. What are my options?

A: Students who already have an IDC4U credit  may have alternative options to record the course. Please email for further information.

Boyd Archaeological Field School student pose for a group photo