Interview with Yvon Gagnon, president of the Société d’histoire d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville: Stéphane Tessier. Directing and filming for this video: Nicolas St-Germain.
Yvon Gagnon (YG), president of the Société d’histoire d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville, tells us about the unearthing of a very old arrowhead during repair work on the square of Church of the Visitation. He explains the intense emotion he felt when he was given the chance to hold it in his hands. This interview was recorded on the terrace above the Parcours Gouin’s visitor centre.
YG I’d like to tell you about an experience I had a few years ago regarding an archaeological object.
It was back in 1995, and the Church of the Visitation decided to do major repair work on its forecourt.
During the excavation, workers found an object in the unearthed debris that looked surprisingly like an arrowhead.
The Parish Council decided to bring in professional archaeologists to weigh in on the authenticity of the artifact.
Much to our surprise, they told us that this was in fact a projectile point of Indigenous origin dating back some 4,000 years.
Around 1996, the object was lost.
Much later, in 2019, Jocelyn Duff, a member of the historical society, did research on the Internet to try and track down the projectile.
We were happy to learn that the artifact was now preserved at the Centre de Conservation du Québec, in Quebec City.
Danielle Daigle—then co-president of the historical society—, Jocelyn Duff and I travelled to Quebec City to see the object. In fact, we had the incredible opportunity to “see” the projectile point.
The archaeologists were even kind enough to let me hold the arrowhead, in my hands. The emotion I felt was truly indescribable. To be able to hold an object made by someone 4,000 years ago was a very moving experience that will stay with me for a very long time.
[observations by the archeologists]
The location of the church is in a privileged natural site, facing the rapids designated “Sault-au-Récollet” to honor the memory of Father Nicolas Viel and a young disciple nicknamed “Auhaitsic” who drowned there in 1625. The flatness of the relief, the quality of the unconsolidated deposits and the proximity of a major watercourse make this location an area with a very high prehistoric archaeological potential, a conclusion to which a previous study (Arkéos inc., 1995) has already arrived.
It would indeed be very surprising if the Amerindians did not take advantage of the place before the arrival of the Europeans and the discovery of a hearth, and a projectile point confirms this impression. Several clues lead us to believe that the object […] represents the oldest known manifestation of a human presence on the island of Montreal and its historical dating (4450 to 3650 B.P.) precedes by more than one millennium the founding of Rome.
Source : Inventaire et supervision archéologiques. Réfection du parvis. Site BjFj-85. Arkéos, 1996.