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A Social Perspective on Wood Remains: Rural Colonisation and Urban Growth in the Saint Lawrence Valley, 1600-1900 AD

Author(s): Brad Loewen ; Christian Bélanger ; Marie-Claude Brien ; Charles Dagneau ; Alex Lefrançois-Leduc

Year: 2017

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Dendrochronology is widely used as a dating tool in archaeology. In North America, the wood record is especially associated with colonial dynamics when farmlands were cleared, rural buildings were erected and young cities drew upon timber resources from expanding hinterlands. In the Saint Lawrence Valley, colonisation began in the early seventeenth century and developed in waves, as prime agricultural lands were saturated and became launching pads for secondary colonisation into marginal regions and industrialising cities. Some wood species were valued commodities whose sale injected cash into rural economies, while other species went conserved for local construction and still others became firewood. Colonists with greater socio-economic power had access to more valued species, as compared to ordinary farmers and entrepreneurs. Such social dynamics are shown by a broad-based dendrochronology programme at the Université de Montréal, led by the Groupe de Recherche en Dendrochronologie Historique (GRDH). Since 2002, more than 80 sites have been studied from the Saint Lawrence estuary to eastern Ontario, providing more than 800 samples. This paper describes a dendro-archaeological approach that considers wood species, felling dates and tree provenance within their archaeological context, and focusses on socio-environmental relations as revealed by the study of archaeological wood.

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A Social Perspective on Wood Remains: Rural Colonisation and Urban Growth in the Saint Lawrence Valley, 1600-1900 AD. Brad Loewen, Christian Bélanger, Marie-Claude Brien, Charles Dagneau, Alex Lefrançois-Leduc. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429329)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16301

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America