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Contact in the 16th Century

0 Comments 🕔30.Aug 2016

Contact in the 16th Century: Networks Among Fishers, Foragers and Farmers, edited by Brad Loewen and Claude Chapdelaine (University of Ottawa Press, 2016).

From Labrador to Lake Ontario, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to French Acadia, and Huronia-Wendaki to Tadoussac, and from one chapter to the next, this scholarly collection of archaeological findings focuses on 16th century European goods found in Native contexts and within greater networks, forming a conceptual interplay of place and mobility.

The four initial chapters are set around the Gulf of Saint Lawrence where Euro-Native contact was direct and the historical record is strongest. Contact networks radiated northward into Inuit settings where European iron nails, roofing tile fragments and ceramics are found. Glass beads are scarce on Inuit sites as well as on Basque sites on the Gulf’s north shore, but they are numerous in French Acadia. Ceramics on northern Basque sites are mostly from Spain. An historical review discusses the partnership between Spanish Basques and Saint Lawrence Iroquoians c.1540-1580.

The four chapters set in the Saint Lawrence valley show Tadoussac as a fork in inland networks. Saint Lawrence Iroquoians obtained glass beads around Tadoussac before 1580. Algonquin from Lac Saint-Jean began trading at Tadoussac after that. They plied a northern route that linked to Huronia-Wendaki via the Ottawa Valley and the Frontenac Uplands.

Finally, four chapters set around Lake Ontario focus on contact between this region and the Saint Lawrence valley. Huron-Wendat sites around the Kawartha Lakes show an influx of Saint Lawrence trade in the 16th century, followed by an immigration wave about 1580. Huron-Wendat sites near Toronto show an unabated inflow of Native materials from the Saint Lawrence valley; however, neutral sites west of Lake Ontario show Native and European materials arriving from the south.

A review of glass bead evidence presented by various authors shows trends that cut across chapters and bring new impetus to the study of beads to discover 16th-century networks among French and Basque fishers, Inuit and Algonquian foragers and Iroquoian farmers.

With contributions from Saraí Barreiro, Meghan Burchell, Claude Chapdelaine, Martin S. Cooper, Amanda Crompton, Vincent Delmas, Sergio Escribano-Ruiz, William Fox, Sarah Grant, François Guindon, Erik Langevin, Brad Loewen, Jean-François Moreau, Jean-Luc Pilon, Michel Plourde, Peter Ramsden, Lisa Rankin and Ronald F. Williamson.

A co-publication with the Canadian Museum of History

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