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Ontario's professional Maritime Archaeology

Discussion in 'Ontario' started by Scott McWilliam, Jul 27, 2020.

  1. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

    This link will take you to a National Post article on the discovery of a broken Avro Arrow model that has been located on the bottom of Lake Ontario.

    This is an interesting story but what happened with it is very interesting. It was posted on one of the Canadian Archaeological Association social web pages with the title "Yes." Underwater archaeology has a widening rift with main stream archaeology. My response:

    No! (with the greatest possible respect.)
    Just for a second think of this as a terrestrial archaeological site. . . .
    It reads:
    “The tale of the sunken treasure hidden somewhere in one of Canada’s great lakes was alluring to John Burzynski, the president and chief executive officer at Osisko Mining Inc., a Canadian mining company. Burzynski was inspired by the discoveries in 2014 and 2016 of the two ships involved in the 19th century Franklin Expedition, during which British Captain Sir John Franklin and his crew of 129 men were lost in the Northwest Passage, in Canada’s Arctic.”
    Following an incredibly bad example of maritime museum archaeology by Parks Canada archaeologists, a self-described non-archaeologist treasure hunter, with deep pockets decides to engage in museum archaeology. How is that a good thing?
    Also, as stated:
    “The test vehicle was put on display at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa in 2019, but Burzynski wasn’t done.”
    They used to keep a lot of artifacts at the National Museum of Brazil and it seemed like a good idea to have a localized repository for that nation’s cultural heritage, until it burned to the ground September 2, 2018.
    Of course, that type of thing could never happen here. Unless you count the February 15, 1993 hanger fire at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
    The museums are insured and so are the artifacts. This establishes a minimum cash value for this type of artifact. How many more Burzynski’s are going to be inspired by this? After all, if you find one that is intact it must be worth more than this find. Then what happens? What is the next one worth to a private collector? If you find one that is intact there is only so much display space so, do Mr Burzynski’s finds go into storage, or does he get to take them home?
    The part of the story that is not being told is what a remarkable economical price you can buy an archaeologist for in Ontario. It is reminiscent of the Florida treasure hunting ventures in the 70’s. If you have enough money, there is always an under or unemployed archaeologist around to make your treasure hunting dreams come true for a couple of bucks. Who cares about professional ethics or standards, the rent is due on the first of the month?
    Ontwreckdiver likes this.
  2. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

    Underwater Archaeology in Ontario,
    The subject and discussion of Underwater Archaeology enjoys increased popularity in the sport diving community. At this stage in my life, I find this gratifying. When I started out there were only a half dozen archaeologists in the province with any kind of academic credentials, studying Maritime Archaeology.
    Over the years I have made errors (usually typo’s) and found it functional to steal a quote on error from former President John F. Kennedy. It was part of the Kennedy family philosophy, they believed that “if you make an error and correct it, it is no longer an error.”
    For example, there is no university where you can go and study underwater archaeology. It is maritime archaeology and I use the term underwater archaeology to refer to the part of maritime archaeology that is conducted underwater. Maritime archaeologists in Ontario have excavated several vessels that were buried as part of harbour development projects years ago, this is also maritime archaeology. The fun part is the diving part.
    If as a sport diver, you are interested in pursuing a career in Maritime Archaeology or involvement in any kind of submerged study it is in your best interest to educate yourself and be aware of the legal ramifications of your actions. If you are a professional, it is an obligation.
    This link will take you to a Ministry of Labour web page where you can download a PDF file with the diving regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. RSO 1990.
    Law Document English View
    It is easy to be popular, all you must do is promises people what they want. Next Christmas, Santa Clause is going to bring you your very own seven CFM compressor, a new drysuit, two new sets of doubles, a DPV and a rebreather. Why risk unpopularity?
    Until then in the real world, those regulations apply to you. Reading the diving regulations will give you about one-third of the information you need to know. An additional third is interpretation and definitions and the final third is case law.
    Any kind of compensation means that you are working underwater.
    Example: Cottage owner asks SCUBA diver neighbour to help put in his water intake pipe in the spring. After the job, he is to join the party for a barbequed dinner and a beer. There was an accident. The beer and barbeque constitute payment charges were laid and a conviction rendered.
    If you are a professional, you are a professional twenty-four seven, you do not get to be an amateur or a volunteer on the weekends or when you please. If you have written a book on the subject, received an honorarium at a speaking engagement or posted a video on YouTube anything that has even the remotest possibility of you receiving any kind of remuneration the regulations apply to you.
    The Ministry of Labour employs specialists who are there to assist you. If you have any kind of questions, you should be contacting them and getting your information from the source rather than relying on “very interesting” but uneducated options floating around on the internet.
    Example: At a recent Niagara Divers club function suggested that sport divers would soon be diving “the Hamilton and Scourge at part of a monitoring program.” Months ago, I discussed this with a MOL specialist on that topic. His opinion was that MOL has no problem with a diver making a recreational dive on the site. To do so you require an archaeological licence, and do research, a video, measurements, photogrammetry etc., these things are work and you are not going to be doing that with anything less than a Saturation system and the proper certification is delusional.
    To take money from anyone under the pretext that they are going to be able to dive the site in anything less is unconscionable. Santa Clause might bring you the gift you deserve, and I may be wrong. Don’t be shy, drop me a line if I correct my error, it will no longer be an error.
    Jared0425 likes this.

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