Peter Timmins

Peter TimminsAssistant Professor - Archaeology

PhD 1992 (McGill University)
Office: Social Science Centre 3216
Tel: 519 661-2111  ext. 85097



Research Interests

I am an anthropological archaeologist with an area specialization in the lower Great Lakes and northeastern North America in general.  My research interests encompass issues of current practice in archaeology, especially cultural resource management (CRM), Indigenous peoples and archaeology, the continuum from hunter-gatherer-foragers to farmers in the lower Great Lakes. Given my focus on cultural resource management combined with more general archaeological concerns, I regularly supervise and act as an advisor to graduate students in the Department’s Applied Archaeology program and in the Archaeology and Bioarchaeology stream. Much of my research involves graduate students working with data collected in cultural resource management contexts.

Current Research Projects

The Middle Archaic II Period (ca. 5500-4500 BP) in the Southern Lake Huron Basin

This project draws on data from two important Middle Archaic sites, South Bend and Ridge Pine 2, excavated by Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants near Grand Bend, Ontario. The South Bend site has been discussed in a conference presentation and a published paper (Ellis, Timmins and Martelle 2009).  Most recently, analysis of the stone tools from these sites has been undertaken by Gabryell Kurtzrock Belyea as a Master’s thesis project under my supervision.

Return to Inverhuron: Buried Archaeological Sites on the Lake Huron Shoreline, Inverhuron, Ontario

This project focuses on the re-discovery, test excavations and results of cultural resource management work at four archaeological sites located in a cobble beach/dune field environment at Inverhuron, Ontario. The sites range in age from the Late Archaic (ca. 3500 BP) to the Late Woodland (ca. 550 BP). Originally documented by avocational archaeologist Fritz Knechtel in the 1940s and 50s, the sites were re-located during recent CRM surveys. The project has been the subject of three recent conference papers and a paper for publication is in preparation.

Analysis of the Middle Iroquoian Dorchester Villages (ca. 600-700 BP)

The Dorchester Iroquoian Village was fully excavated by Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants in 2004. The excavation revealed a complex community pattern indicative of at least three sequential periods of re-building in the same locale. While initial reporting was completed by Dr. Holly Martelle, a detailed study of the Dorchester site settlement patterns and ceramics is being undertaken by Master’s student Johnathan Freeman under my supervision.

The Wheaton Ste, A “Lost” Mid-19th Century Tavern on the Governor’s Road

The Wheaton site, located near Thamesford, Ontario, was discovered during a cultural resource management survey in 2012. Historical background research suggests that it may have been a tavern between the early 1840s to the early 1860s. From 2014 to 2018, I have conducted excavations at Wheaton as part of the Department of Anthropology’s Field Methods in Archaeology course (Anthropology 3307A). While we expose only a small portion of the site each year, we are gradually gaining an understanding of the site structure through the discovery of a possible foundation wall, a likely cellar feature, and an associated midden. The site has been the subject of a conference presentation (Timmins 2016) and the final results will be summarized in a future paper.

Selected List of Publications

2010       Going Beyond Professional and Research “Enclaves”: An Appreciation of Michael W. Spence (with C.J. Ellis, N. Ferris, and C. White), In The “Compleat Archaeologist”: Papers in Honour of Michael W. Spence. C.J. Ellis, N. Ferris, P. Timmins and C. White (eds.). Ontario Archaeology Number 85-88, 2008-2009.

2009      Don’t Fence Me In: New Insights into Iroquoian Village Organization. In Iroquoian Archaeology & Analytical Scale, L. Miroff and T. Knapp, eds., pp. 51-67, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

2009      At the Crossroads and Periphery: The Archaic Archaeological Record of Southern Ontario (with C.J. Ellis and Holly Martelle). In Archaic Societies: Diversity and Complexity Across the Midcontinent, edited by Thomas E. Emerson, Andrew Fortier and Dale McElrath, pp. 787-840. State University of New York Press, Albany.

2006      Bruce Trigger’s Impact on Ontario Iroquoian Settlement Pattern Studies (with D. Smith, G. Warrick, R. McDonald and R. Pearce). In The Archaeology of Bruce  Trigger: Theoretical Empiricism, R.F. Williamson and M. Bisson (eds.). McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal.

1999      A Flexible Model for the Study of Prehistoric Social and Political Complexity in the Midwest and Great Lakes Regions (with John Paul Staeck).  In Taming the Taxonomy:  Toward a New Understanding of Great Lakes Archaeology, R. Williamson and C. Watts (eds.)., pp. 151-174.  eastendbooks, Toronto. 

1997      The Calvert Site:  An Interpretive Framework for the Early Iroquoian Village.  Archaeological Survey of Canada Mercury Series Paper 156, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull. (250 pages)

1997      The Little Shaver Site: Site Structure and Excavation Methodology on a Small Unploughed Site.  In Home is Where the Hearth Is: The contribution of small sites to our understanding of Ontario's past.  Edited by J.-L. Pilon and R. Perkins, pp. 72-88.  Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Symposium of the Ontario Archaeological Society (disk version), Ottawa Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society, Ottawa.

Selected List of Conference Presentations (since 2010)

2017          In Spite of Ourselves: Urban Archaeology at the Salmoni Site, King’s Navy Yard, Fort Malden, Amherstburg, Ontario. Paper presented in a session entitled Methodological Challenges, Logistical Nightmares and Untold Stories: CRM Contributions to Urban Archaeology at the Canadian Archaeological Association Meetings, May 10-13, Ottawa-Gatineau.

2016          The Wheaton Site: A “Lost” Mid-19th Century Tavern on the Governor’s Road. Paper presented in a session entitled Historical Archaeology in Ontario at the 43rd Annual Symposium of the Ontario Archaeological Society held at Waterloo, Ontario, November 4-6th, 2016.

2016           (with Holly Martelle) Best Practices and Lessons Learned. Paper presented at the Ontario Heritage Conference, May 12-14, 2016, Stratford, Ontario.

2016          Inverhuron Revisited: Recent CRM Investigations at Inverhuron, Ontario. Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Canadian Archaeological Association, held in Whitehorse, Yukon, May 5, 2016.

2015          Beach Ridges, Sand Dunes and Buried Sites: Recent CRM Investigations at Inverhuron, Ontario. Paper presented in a session titled Practices and Products of Cultural Resource Management in North America held at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology held in San Francisco, California, April 15-19, 2015.   

2014          (with Janet Gardner) Lessons from an Archaeological Assessment on Inverhuron Bay. Paper presented in a session entitled The Cup’s Half Full: CRM Archaeology in Perspective at the Annual Symposium of the Ontario Archaeological Society, Peterborough, October, 2014.

2014          (with Matthew Beaudoin and Katie Mather) Living on the Edge: Two Early Late Woodland Components on the Iroquoian-Western Basin Borderland. Paper presented in a session titled Recent Contributions to Woodland Archaeology at the meetings of the Canadian Archaeological Association, London, Ontario, May 2014 and to the London Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society in March 2014.

2013          Ontario’s New Standards and Guidelines for Woodland Archaeology: A 2013 Update. Paper presented at the Annual Symposium of the Ontario Archaeological Society, Niagara Falls, October, 2013.

2012          Ontario’s New Standards and Guidelines for Woodland Archaeology: A Real World Critique. Paper presented at the Annual Symposium of the Ontario Archaeological Society, Windsor, November, 2012.

2012          (with Amanda DiLoreto) Beaverbrook: An Early Woodland (Meadowood) Habitation Site in Southwestern Ontario. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association, Montreal, May 2012.

Teaching and Graduate Supervision

My Undergraduate teaching covers a broad range of topics including:

Anthropology 1026F/G            Introduction to Biological Anthropology & Archaeology

Anthropology 2100                 Introduction to World Prehistory and Archaeology

Anthropology 2229F/G            Principles of Archaeology

Anthropology 2233F/G            Archaeology of Ontario and the Great Lakes

Anthropology 3307A               Field Methods in Archaeology

Anthropology 4429F/G            Principles of Applied Archaeology (cross-listed with graduate course)

Graduate Courses

Anthropology 9110F/G            Principles of Applied Archaeology

Current Graduate Students

Sarah Clarke                          MA (Applied Archaeology Program – Streamlined)

(Fall 2017, part-time)             Thesis project: “The History and Archaeology of Six Nations Reserve Lands in the City of Brantford” 

Corbin Albani                         MA (Applied Archaeology Program)

(Fall 2018, part-time)             Thesis project:

Samantha Albanese                MA (Archaeology/Bioarchaeology Program)

(Fall 2020, full-time)               Thesis project: "Kabeshinan: Situating the BiFw-6 site in broader Middle Woodland cultural landscapes"


Previous Graduate Students

Jessica Russell                       MA Applied Archaeolgy Program

(Fall 2019, full-time)               Thesis Project:"Ridge Pine 3: A Late Archaic Site in the southern Lake Huron Basin"

Vienna Mann                          MA Applied Archaeology Program

(Fall 2019, full-time)               Thesis Project: "An Investigation into the Curation of Archaeological Collections in Cultural Resource Managment in Ontario, Canada"

Johnathan Freeman                MA (Applied Archaeology Program)

(Fall 2011, part-time)             Thesis project: “Occupational History of the Dorchester Village (AfHg-24)” 

Gabryell Kurtzrock Belyea       MA (Applied Archaeology Program)

(Fall 2017, full-time)               Thesis project: “The South Bend and Ridge Pine Sites: Raw Material Procurement and Interaction” 

Amanda Parks                     MA 2018 (Applied Archaeology Program)

                                          Thesis title: The Semi-Subterranean Sweat Lodges of the Redeemer Site. 

Rebecca Parry                      MA 2017 (Applied Archaeology Program)

                                          Thesis title: Exploring Community Formation and Coalescence at the Late 14th-Early 15th Century Tillsonburg Village Site. 

Katelyn Mather                    MA 2015 (Applied Archaeology Program)

                                         Thesis title: Situating the Pot and Potter: Ceramic Production and Use at the Silvercreek Sites, Two Early-Late Woodland Sites in Elgin County, Ontario 

Lara Wood                          MA 2015 (Applied Archaeology Program),

                                         Thesis title: Understanding Early Woodland Meadowood Complex Settlement Patterns in Southwestern Ontario. 

Megan DeVries                    MA 2014 (Applied Archaeology Program),

                                         Thesis title: Cultural Resource Management and Aboriginal Consultation: Policy and Practice in Ontario.