A three-year project to find the remains of Upper Canada’s first smelter has come up empty-handed.
Archaeologists took some final notes on Monday before the dig site — in Lyndhurst, Ont., formerly known as Furnace Falls — was once again covered-up.
“I went to school, grade 8 here in the village, and local history was on the curriculum,” said Art Shaw, project manager and a member of the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands heritage committee. “So we learned all about the ironworks in grade 8 and I’ve been curious about it ever since.”
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The smelter project was very much Shaw’s baby. He did the fundraising and helping out where ever he could, as did other volunteers.
Shaw says they were hoping to find physical evidence of the first iron smelter in Upper Canada, but it didn’t happen.
Jeff Earl, the principal archaeologist, says there is a very good reason they couldn’t locate the actual furnace space.
“We’ve definitely got the soil stratigraphy that’s telling us we’re going in the right direction, the waste product is all around it, it had to be right here,” Earl said. “So it’s just unfortunate, because of the construction of the 1881 mill, it’s pretty much obstructed where the furnace probably was.”
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Shaw says over the years they’ve uncovered plenty of items like 19th-century cut nails, various iron objects, some glass and a few ceramics all from that period.