Parkhill Site

Excavations in Area C, Parkhill site, 1975, looking west. Old bed of Lake Algonquin/Ardtrea in background.

This site is located in the vicinity of the modern town of Parkhill, Ontario just south of Grand Bend on the southeastern shore of modern Lake Huron. It was the first major Early Paleo-Indian site to be reported in Ontario and to see any degree of extensive excavation. The site was discovered by some local residents (Randy Laye, Gary Laye and Ray Baxter) who reported the site to D. Brian Deller. Excavations were carried out at the site between 1973 and 1975 under the overall direction of the late Dr. William Burton Roosa of the Department of Anthropology, University of Waterloo. Funding for the investigations has been provided by the former Canada Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Ontario Heritage Foundation. The site has been named of National Historic Significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Geological studies carried out at the site by Drs. Alan V. Morgan of the University of Waterloo and John H. McAndrews of the Royal Ontario Museum demonstrate that at the time the site was occupied some 10,500 years ago it was immediately adjacent to a lakeshore (on the west) and a major inlet (on the south) attributable to either Main Lake Algonquin or a subsequent Post-Algonquin lake called Ardtrea.

Map of Parkhill site showing various site areas.

The site consists of at least nine concentrations of stone artifactual material distributed over an area of ca. six hectares. Four areas at the western edge of the site seem to be specialized ones in that they have the highest percentage of fluted projectile points ever reported from the eastern Great Lakes area but areas at the eastern site edge have more diverse tool inventories suggesting they are generalized domestic camp areas. One of these eastern areas (Area D) can be linked by artifact cross-mends to one of the specialized fluted point dominated areas on the west (Area B) indicating they were used relatively contemporary.

Fluted points from the Parkhill site.

Miniature points made on channel flakes. Upper row: Complete and tip segments;
Lower row: Mid-section fragments.

Most of the points recovered are finished ones discarded due to damage in use and in fact, there are more finished fluted points from Parkhill than any other Great Lakes site. However, there are also many channel flakes detached in making the flutes on the point which indicates point manufacture was also important. The points expand slightly from the base, have moderately deep basal concavities and often have fishtails. They are assigned to the Barnes style of fluted point. The site has also yielded a number of other distinctive Paleo-Indian stone tool forms including miniature points made on channel flakes which may have served in ritual activities, scrapers with triangular outlines probably used in hide preparation, and large massive tools with pointed working ends suitable for use in slotting or engraving bone or antler called beaks or beaked scrapers.

Beaks or beaked scrapers.

Most of the stone tools from Parkhill are made on Fossil Hill formation chert which originates in the Collingwood area some 175-200 km northeast of the site. The transportation of certain cherts long distances is characteristic of Paleo-Indian groups and is a major source of information suggesting they had a quite mobile lifestyle.

In addition to the Paleo-Indian occupations evidence was found of occupation by several later groups and particularly, in the vicinity of Area D. Notable here are several occupations dating to the end of the Late Archaic (approximately 4000 to 2800 radiocarbon years ago) and the Early Woodland (approximately 2800 to 2300 radiocarbon years ago). Besides artifactual material, these later occupations were represented by several pit features, some of which have been radiocarbon dated.

Published References

D. B. Deller and C.J. Ellis - 1992 -  The Early Paleo-Indian Parkhill Phase in Southwestern Ontario. Man in the Northeast 44:15-54.

C. J. Ellis - 1994 - The Pits (Part II): A Radiocarbon-Dated Early Woodland, Meadowood Phase Feature from the Parkhill Site. Kewa 94(5):2-7.

C. J. Ellis - 1994 - Miniature Early Paleo-Indian Stone Artifacts from the Parkhill, Ontario, Site. North American Archaeologist 15:253-267.

C. J. Ellis - 1998 - The Pits (Part III) or Evidence From the Parkhill Site Bearing on the Age of Late Archaic "Small Points". Kewa 98(7-8):18-24.

C. J. Ellis and D. B. Deller (with contributions by W. B. Roosa, A. V. Morgan and J. H. McAndrews) - 2000 - An Early Paleo-Indian Site Near Parkhill, Ontario. Canadian Museum of Civilization, Archaeological Survey of Canada Mercury Series Paper No. 159.

C. J. Ellis and J. Payne - 1995 - Estimating Failure Rates in Fluting Based on Archaeological Data: Examples from Northeastern North America. Journal of Field Archaeology 22:459-474.

J. A. Fisher - 1987 - Brodie and Parkhill: An Analysis of Two Late Archaic Broadpoint Samples from Southwestern Ontario. Kewa 87(8):3-21.

L. J. Jackson, C. J. Ellis, A. V. Morgan and J. H. McAndrews - 2000 - Glacial Lake Levels and Eastern Great Lakes Palaeo-Indians. Geoarchaeology 15(5):415-440.

L. Pavlish and P. Sheppard - 1983 - Thermoluminescent Determination of Paleoindian Heat Treatment in Ontario, Canada. American Antiquity 48:793-799.

W. B. Roosa - 1977 - Great Lakes Paleo-Indian: The Parkhill Site, Ontario. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 288:349-354.

W. B. Roosa - 1977 - Fluted Points from the Parkhill Site. In For the Director: Research Essays in Honour of James B. Griffin, edited by C. Cleland, pages 87-122. Anthropological Papers, Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan No. 61.

W. B. Roosa and D. B. Deller - 1982 - The Parkhill Complex and Eastern Great Lakes Paleo-Indian. Ontario Archaeology 37:3-15.

Other References

D. B. Deller - 1980 - The Parkhill (Brophy) Site, AhHk-49: Analyses of Surface Materials. M.A. Thesis, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario.

C. J. Ellis - 1979 - Analysis of Lithic Debitage from Fluted Point Sites in Ontario. M. A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

Fisher, J. A. - 1987 - Brodie and Parkhill: An Analysis of Two Late Archaic Broadpoint  Samples From Southwestern Ontario. Honours B.A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario.

S. Lancashire - 2001 - Early Paleoindian Trianguloid End Scrapers: An Analysis. M. A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario, London.

Snarey, K. - 2000 - The Adoption of the Bow and Arrow in Southwestern Ontario: A View from the Smallpoint Archaic. M.A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario.