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Detritus Consulting Ltd.

Archaeology | Heritage

FAQ & Links

Why am I being told I need an archaeological assessment?

An archaeological assessment is usually triggered by municipal heritage planning policies and sometimes by existing Archaeological Master Plans that identify areas of archaeological potential. If your property has certain characteristics that indicate there is potential to find an archaeological site, you may be required to get an assessment done as part of the development approval process. If this happens there is an archaeological condition has been placed on your property and you need to get it removed before development can proceed.

How does the archaeological assessment process work?

There are a maximum of four stages to the archaeological assessment process:

Stage 1

This assessment is designed to determine whether there is archaeological potential at a property and whether or not physical survey will be required (stage 2). It is usually performed in the absence of an archaeological master plan and in cases where there is a need to know what areas of a property are archaeologically sensitive. A stage 1 report may conclude there is no archaeological potential which ends the process or recommend stage 2 if there is potential

Stage 2

This stage of the assessment process is usually combined with stage 1 but can be performed as a ‘stand alone’ assessment once a stage 1 has been completed. Stage 2 assessment involves physically surveying a property to see whether there are in fact artifacts or archaeological sites present.

This is done one of two ways:

  1. Pedestrian survey – done in agricultural areas where ploughing can be performed. The field is visually scanned by a crew walking at intervals over the property. Artifacts are mapped and recovered.
  2. Test pit survey – done in any areas where ploughing can’t be done. The property is surveyed by a crew digging test pits at intervals and screening the contents of each pit for artifacts.

Once a property has been surveyed a stage 2 report is produced which will either recommend clearance of the archaeological condition or if a site is found it may recommend stage 3.

Stage 3

If a significant site is found during stage 2, either historic Euro-Canadian (pioneer) or First nations aboriginal, a stage 3 assessment will be required to determine whether the site has real importance or not. This involves excavation at intervals across the site to sample it and get a more complete picture of what kind of site it is. Again a report is produced and a recommendation to proceed to stage 4 or clear the heritage condition is made.

Stage 4

If a site is found to have real importance, it must either be avoided or excavated. Sometimes it is possible to redesign a site plan to avoid all or most of a site. If avoidance isn’t possible the site must be excavated and a report produced. This is the final stage in the process.

Our Philosophy

Detritus was born in 1997 from the former staff of a larger CRM company. With the formation of this new company I pledged to treat our customers with empathy and respect instead of indifference or disdain. While I believe the preservation of the archaeological record is important, I also understand that our customers represent an important industry within the Canadian economy. At Detritus we try to treat every customer like the first one who came to us - a homeowner just trying to sever a small parcel of land and confused by the need for an archaeological assessment. The satisfaction I got from sheparding that client through a confusing and stressful time is the driving force for this company. I hope we can help you too.


Garth Grimes