Saskatchewan Archaeological Society
The Saskatchewan Archaeological Society (SAS), founded in 1963, is one of the most active and effective volunteer-based archaeological organizations on the continent. We educate the public, promote research and advocate for heritage preservation and protection. Our members include professional archaeologists, avocational archaeologists and members of the general public that are curious about our province's first peoples and other cultures.
What does the SAS do?
- Offers all ages fieldschools, hands-on workshops, annual meeting and conference, annual bus tour, special tours and regional chapters across the province.
- Offers teaching and educational resources such as artefact replicas, "archaeo-kits", "Kiwetinohk"
- travelling rock art exhibit, videos, an extensive library of books, journals, theses, maps and photos, a quaterly newsletter on archaeology, history, natural history, geology and palaeontology news and publications for sale.
- Provides funding to individuals or groups for research projects and the annual Zenon Pohorecky Memorial Bursary to university students.
How do I join?
Contact the SAS!
#1-1730 Quebec Avenue
Saskatoon, SK S7K 1V9
Ph: (306) 664-4124
Fax: (306) 665-1928
During 2013, the SAS is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of the Annual Gathering and are placing a number of geocaches at archaeological and historically significant sites throughout the province.
SAS #11: Research at South Branch House
The area in which the South Branch House site is located is rich in both precontact (before European arrival) and post-contact (after European arrival) history. However, this geocache deals with the history and excavation of a fur trade post along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River approximately 17 kilometres north of Batoche.
Arthur Silver Morton first identified South Branch House as a Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) fur trade post in 1944. Morton identified the site based on historical documents, a local knowledge of the area and visible surface features. At the same time, he also identified a second “South Branch House” belonging to the Northwest Company on the opposite side of the river. The HBC South Branch House was one of six different posts that were in operation from 1786-1816 (Wutzke et al. 2006). In June 1794, the post was raided and burnt down by a Gros Ventre war party. The raid was a result of the Gros Ventre attempting “to gain an even footing with the competing Cree group to the north that had found a more favourable trading situation with the HBC” (Pollio and Cyr-Steenkamp 2009:3). There are some questions as to whether Morton correctly identified this site as being the HBC South Branch House post due to inconsistencies in the HBC journals, Peter Fidler’s journals and on historic maps (see Markowski 2009). Ongoing archaeological investigations by the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society have been undertaken to try to determine if this site is in fact the South Branch House as identified by Morton and the one razed by the Gros Ventre war party in 1794.
Archaeological investigations were begun at the site in 2005 as a joint partnership between the SAS and One Arrow First Nation and attempted to determine the extent of the archaeological site. It was during this inaugural field season that the remains of a stockade wall were uncovered. Additionally, possible chimney mounds, cellar depressions, etc. were recorded by the archaeologists. Subsequent years led to thousands of artifacts being uncovered including beads, buttons, stone tool debris, tinkling cones, lead shot, gunflints, clay pipe fragments, iron nails, metal fragments, faunal remains, chinking, etc. as well as continuing to map out the locations of stockade walls, excavating cellar depressions and determining if this the location of the HBC South Branch House. Along with the archaeological investigations and research, the SAS provides a school dig program for area schools during the month of June at the site and a public archaeological dig during the summer months. For more information on ongoing excavations and the dig programs, please contact us at the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society!
Hudson’s Bay Company “Beaver” Buttons found at South Branch House
2009 Tracking Down South Branch House: A Critical Look at the Identification of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s South Branch House (FfNm-1). Unpublished MA thesis, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Saskatchewan.
Pollio, Cara and T. Cyr-Steenkamp
2010 Final Report on the 2009 Archaeological Investigations at FfNm-1 Permit No. 09-089. Saskatchewan Archaeological Society, Saskatoon, SK.
2003 The History and Artefacts of a Hudson’s Bay Company Inland Post: South Branch House. Saskatchewan Archaeological Society, Saskatoon, SK.