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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Losier

A Boat Tour, the 19th Century at l'Anse and a Goodbye

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Week Four at MUN's 2022 Field School at Anse à Bertrand, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

We are a little bit very late with this post… sorry folks! The field work is now over but we will continue the blog post series! Week Five recap will follow shortly!

Week Four at Anse à Bertrand was short for the students participating in the field school as they went back to St. John’s on the Wednesday, but it was an intense and eventful week!

Fig. 1: The team of Anse à Bertrand – MUN archaeology field school 2022

First let’s begin with Julia’s account of the student last Saturday in Saint-Pierre, because it is not all work and no play in Saint-Pierre, on the contrary! Although we officially only had one day off per week (Sunday, of course), the students quickly discovered that Dr. Losier could be convinced to let us quit work early on Saturday as long as we told her that we were going somewhere fun. This week’s adventure was a boat tour to Langlade. It was a fun excursion, and we all enjoyed seeing the tremendous amount of birds at Grand Colombier, including puffins, which are smaller than we expected. Most of us enjoyed getting splashed when the boat hit larger waves, and some of us even - allegedly - saw deer at Langlade. It was a great opportunity to get out onto the water, without which a trip to any small Atlantic island would be incomplete.

Fig. 2: Boat tour to Langlade, the Grand Colombier and Cap Percé

Regarding the excavations, Julia was chief of Sector 9 and Victoria volunteered to be chief of Sector 10 for a second time (thanks Victoria 😊). Under the supervision of the two chiefs and P’tit Loup, we made fantastic progress toward the completion of 2022 excavations.

Fig. 3: P’tit Loup supervising the excavations

In sector 9, we took the decision not to excavate US 904, the stone foundation of the 19th century building. In 2017, the trench we dug through the building in order to reach the natural layers (Sondage 2) showed that the archaeological contexts were not well preserved under the stones of the building. Therefore, we decided to invest our time excavating the rest of the units and preserve that beautiful feature. Who knows…for future heritage projects!

With the building covering most of sector 9, the space to be excavated was becoming smaller and eventually lead to the exodus of sector 9 team members to help sector 10 team which was facing an enormous 5 meters by 7 meters area to excavate. In sector 9, the deposit (US 905) located to the east of the building was a very interesting layer in which artefacts dating from the 19th century, but mostly from the 18th century, were found. In addition, we identified stone features and postholes associated with the 17th-18th century occupation of the site. As US 905 was also present under the stones of the building (in fact it seems that the building was constructed on top of this layer), we hypothesize for that this layer predates or is contemporaneous to the construction of the stone foundation.

Fig. 4 Julia, Chermaine and Meghann excavating the 19th century deposits in Sector 9 and 10

In sector 10, no built features associated with the 19th and 20th century occupations were found. Instead, we excavated deposits associated with work areas located outside of the building. The excavation of US 1003 and US 1004 lead to the discovery of a rich artefacts collection pertaining to the 19th and 20th century occupation of the site. Once US 1004 was removed, stone features associated with the 17th and 18th century occupation of the site were visible. More on this in the next blog post! Even before the analysis that will take place during the winter months, we can already say that the one of the highlights of the 2022 fieldwork is the great amount and the quality of data associated with the 19th century. This context was always the most difficult to capture in previous excavation, but with the data amassed in 2022, we will be able to better develop our narrative regarding this very interesting era associated with the presence of the grands négociants on the south shore Saint-Pierre harbour.

Fig. 5: A 3D reconstruction of the excavation showing the foundation of the 19th century building and the 18th century features visible after the excavations of the 19th century layers in Sector 10

On Tuesday July 19th, we presented our end of field school conference during which the first results of the field season were shared with the community of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon. After the formal conference, students had the occasion to show the artefacts found during the excavations to the public attending the conference. This is always a unique and fun event, and this year we had a record attendance for the conference. Many thanks to L’Arche for hosting the event and to everyone who came! And, of course, an enormous thanks to the 2022 Field school crew for their diligent work and participation to all aspect of the Anse à Bertrand project!

Fig. 6: The end of field work event at L’Arche Musée et Archives

I want to leave the last words of this post to Julia to express the feeling of the students crew at the end of the field school: Now this was our final week, and at our house and on breaks we shared some of the things we were excited for when we returned to St. John’s: iced capps, laundry stain removers, cooking for one person instead of seven, seeing friends and family at home, and simply relaxing after our hard work. But none of us were over-eager to leave; we will miss something here. Not the long hours of work or the early mornings, but perhaps the late nights and our conversations. Or maybe we will start missing our 8:30 morning start - I did not think we will miss the foggy, cold weather, but among the first few group chat messages once us students had arrived in St. John’s were complaints about the unbearably hot temperature of 23℃.

Fig. 7: View of Saint-Pierre from the plane as students flew home

Again, thanks to the students for their hard work and interest for the Anse à Bertrand project. I wish you a fantastic end and the most relaxing end of summer!

See you all in St. John’s during the fall semester!


  • 2021 Losier, C., Saint-Pierre et Miquelon : 500 ans de pêche française dans l’Atlantique Nord. Exhibit catalogue, 21 pages.

  • 2020 Livingston, M., Losier, C., Champagne, M., “Excavation Anse à Bertrand, Saint-Pierre 2019”. Provincial Archaeology Office 2019, Archaeology Review, Vol. 19, p. 160-166.

  • 2019 Champagne, M., Losier, C., Livingston, M. and Barras, M. “Excavation Anse à Bertrand, Saint-Pierre 2018”. Provincial Archaeology Office 2018 Archaeology Review, Vol. 18, p. 38-44.

  • 2018 Livingston, M., Losier, C., Champagne, M., Barras, M. “Excavation Anse à Bertrand, Saint-Pierre 2017”. Provincial Archaeology Office 2017 Archaeology Review, Vol. 17, p. 164-167.


Julia Vanderwier Dr. Catherine Losier

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