Catch of the Day: Archaeology Students Land a Big One

In the heat of last July, three students from TRCA’s Boyd Archaeological Field School made an unexpected discovery during excavations at the Sébastien Site.

native copper fishing hook
Native copper fishing hook unearthed at Sébastien Site, July 2017

While screening soil for artifacts, they spotted a distinctive and unusual shape: a fishing hook, they quickly realized — one made from native copper. It’s the first fishing hook ever unearthed at the Sébastien site, and only the third piece of native copper to be found since excavations began.

This find, along with the many skeletal fish remains recovered previously from the site, suggests that the indigenous inhabitants relied on fish for a large portion of their diet.

The native copper used to make the fishing hook would have been collected from deposits in the Lake Superior basin, or from glacial deposits and stream beds. The hook was likely cold hammered into the desired shape by its creator.

diagram of native copper artifacts
Native copper artifacts excavated at Sébastien Site

Since native copper sources are not local to the GTA, it is probable that this fishing hook was traded into the area. Given the rarity and durability of native copper, it would have been a valuable possession — perhaps even passed down from generation to generation.

By Cassandra Hamilton

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