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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 13

Table Glass Excavated at Beaubassin, Nova Scotia

by Jane E. Harris


Historical Background

The name "Beaubassin" at first referred to the whole Isthmus of Chignecto, but gradually it came to be used only for the small Acadian village which was situated on the southwest end of the Fort Lawrence ridge near present-day Amherst, Nova Scotia. The first settlers to arrive in the area were the Acadians in the 1670s. They farmed the fertile lowlands along the La Planche and Missaguash rivers and traded with France and New England. Trade with New England was illegal at this time but flourished nevertheless. Although the British assumed nominal control of Acadia in 1710, trade between the Acadians and France continued until at least 1741 via French settlements on Cape Breton. When the British constructed Fort Lawrence in 1750, the Acadians fled to French soil on the other side of the Missaguash River. In 1755 they were physically expelled from Acadia, many being sent to the southern American colonies. Some escaped and returned to those parts of New Brunswick and Cape Breton which were still in French hands (Coleman 1968a, 29. 90-91).

Research Techniques

In the summer of 1968, Pierre Nadon conducted a series of exploratory excavations in an attempt to find the Acadian townsite of Beaubassin. The excavation consisted of eight units spread over a large area (Fig. 1), each representing a single structure. Six of the eight units (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8) returned varying amounts of glassware.

1 Site map of Beaubassin, Nova Scotia, showing excavation units. (click on image for a PDF version)

Since few glass objects were found, it was decided to analyse these artifacts with respect to historically defined occupation periods and glassware types rather than consider each excavation unit separately. It was hoped that by this procedure an approximate date of occupation could be assigned to each unit.

A shortwave ultraviolet light source (Fisher Scientific UVS-11) was used to determine the presence or absence of lead in the clear glass artifacts. The colour code used therein refers to the Nickerson Color Fan (Munsell Color Company); colours were always determined under fluorescent lighting.

I wish to thank Jane Mousette of Ottawa, a former colleague, for the artifact drawings in this paper.

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