M4243 | Pipe

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Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: St. Lawrence Iroquoian
1475-1525, 15th century or 16th century
5.5 x 10.5 cm
Purchased from the Natural History Society of Montreal
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Pipe (71)
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Keys to History

On a day in 1860, workmen were gathering fill for construction sites from a sandy knoll at the corner of Metcalfe and de Maisonneuve Streets in Montreal. As they dug, they began finding unusual objects, including this remarkable clay smoking pipe. The discoveries were brought to the attention of Sir John William Dawson, a noted geologist and the principal of McGill University.

Dawson proceeded to oversee one of the earliest archaeological rescue projects in Canada. He recognized that the stone and bone artifacts and broken pieces of pottery predated the arrival of Europeans in North America. In fact, he thought the workmen had uncovered traces of Hochelaga, the Iroquoian village visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535. Archaeologists now believe that this pipe and the other Dawson-site artifacts date to a village occupied even earlier, in the 1400s.

  • What

    This pipe is made from clay and is decorated around the rim.

  • Where

    The pipe was found in a sandy knoll at the corner of Metcalfe and de Maisonneuve Streets in Montreal, near the present-day location of the McCord Museum.The Dawson site was one of the first archaeological excavations in Canada.

  • When

    The pipe has been carbon dated to 1475-1525.

  • Who

    Sir John William Dawson (1820-1899), principal of McGill University, was responsible for the excavations at the site he called Hochelaga.