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1967-1968 and 1975 Excavations

In 1967 and 1968, the University of Toronto undertook investigations to locate and excavate burials of the Wendat who died on the Island and to document the village associated with the fort.

Contour map showing site locations and excavation pits on Christian Island

Map of excavations at Ste.Marie II (BeHb-1), the Village (BeHb-2), and the Burial area (BeHb-3).


Fifty-seven two metre squares were excavated north of the Fort. While little evidence of the houses or palisade was found of the village area north of fort, due to disturbance by modern housing and twentieth century land disturbances, an artifact assemblage typical of the period was recovered. More than 231 diagnostic artifacts, of both French and Huron origin, were recovered.

Four views of a 3d scanned pottery fragment showing all sides of the piece.

Multiple stills of a 3d scan featuring a decorated rim fragment found during excavations at Ste. Marie II.


View the full 3D model on Sketchfab. (This link is external and as a result it may not conform to accessibility standards.)

This included ceramic vessel and pipe fragments, flaked stone tools, bone tools and beads, a slate pendant, copper projectile points with punched holes for hafting, two Jesuit rings and a Loyola medal.

Triangular copper point with a crude square hole punched through it's middle.

Example of a copper projectile point with a punched hole for hafting. Found during MOA excavations.


In the burial area to the north of the fort and village, two large and four small pits were investigated. Evidence of at least 114 individuals was recovered and revealed a burial pattern unique to the Historic Wendat. This involved the burial of individuals in a variety of positions in large or small pits. There was no evidence for the practice of secondary burial of individuals in ossuaries but it was concluded that this was “an aberrant burial pattern in response to an extreme stress situation.” These and other remains that had been removed from Christian Island at some point in the past were reburied in the fall of 2013.

Early Excavations (Closed captions available in EN and FR) – View the Video with a transcript (EN) 

In 1975, Parks Canada decided to improve the site of St. Marie II to make it more attractive to visitors. A variety of activities were proposed including the installation of a drainage system to lower the water table, the leveling of ground within the fort and the removal of tree stumps both within and outside the fort.

Although the stumps were never removed, the drainage was installed. While the full extent of the damage to the organic deposits remains unknown, it is clear that this has had detrimental effects on these deposits.