to Define Archaeology Terms in the Ontario Heritage
On June 24, 2004, the Ministry of Culture's new regulation
defining four key archaeology terms used in the Ontario
Heritage Act came into effect. In addition to providing
clarity and consistency for Ontario's archaeology licensing
provisions, the regulation strengthens the Act's ability
to protect archaeological resources across the province
from looting and destruction.
Ontario Regulation 170/04, defines the following archaeology
terms used in the Ontario Heritage Act:
"archaeological fieldwork" means any activity
carried out on, above or under land or water for the
purpose of obtaining and documenting data, recovering
artifacts and remains or altering an archaeological
site and includes monitoring, assessing, exploring,
surveying, recovering and excavating;
"artifact" means any object, material or
substance that is made, modified, used, deposited or
affected by human action and is of cultural heritage
value or interest;
"archaeological site" means any property
that contains an artifact or any other physical evidence
of past human use or activity that is of cultural heritage
value or interest;
"marine archaeological site" means an archaeological
site that is fully or partially submerged or that lies
below or partially-below the high water-mark of any
body of water.
Ontario's Archaeology Resources
In Ontario, the Minister of Culture is responsible
for protecting archaeological resources in the province,
which includes a requirement that only licensed archaeologists
conduct archaeology in Ontario.
With over 19,000 known archaeological sites, Ontario
has a rich archaeological heritage that ranges from
aboriginal hunting and fishing camps to villages, battlefields
such as from the War of 1812 and the pioneer and settlement
history of the last three centuries.
Archaeological sites also exist underwater and include
aboriginal lake-side camps and habitation sites now
submerged. Shipwrecks are a significant part of our
underwater archaeological heritage with as many as 4,000-5,000
wrecks in Ontario waters such as the Edmond Fitzgerald
at the bottom of Lake Superior.
Unfortunately, many of our archaeological resources
are vulnerable to activity such as destruction or looting.
This activity impacts our archaeological resources and
contributes to the erosion of Ontario's heritage.
To protect our archaeological resources, the Ontario
Heritage Act makes it illegal to alter an archaeological
or marine archaeological site or remove an artifact
from a site, without an archaeology licence from the
Ministry of Culture.
Protection of Archaeology Resources
The Government Efficiency Act (2002) amended the Ontario
Heritage Act to specify that it is an offence, to alter
a site or remove an artifact or any other physical evidence
of past human use or activity from a site, without a
licence "knowing that a site is a marine or other
archaeological site, within the meaning of the regulations".
The regulation defines "marine archaeological
site" and "archaeological site" for the
purposes of this section of the Act.
Anyone who alters a site or removes an artifact from
a site without a licence, such as looting a shipwreck,
may be found in violation of the Act.
Fines for Illegal Activity
Under the Ontario Heritage Act, an individual or a
director of a corporation found in violation of the
Act or the regulations is liable to a fine of up to
$50,000 or imprisonment for up to one year or both.
A corporation found in violation of the Act or the regulations
is liable to a fine of up to $250,000.
For More Information
To access a copy of the regulation or the Ontario Heritage
Regulation - O.Reg 170/04: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/DBLaws/Source/Regs/English/2004/R04170_e.htm
Ontario Heritage Act: http://220.127.116.11/DBLaws/Statutes/English/90o18_e.htm
To inquire about the regulation or the archaeology
provisions under the Act, please contact:
Heritage and Libraries Branch
Ministry of Culture
400 University Avenue, 4th Floor
Toronto ON MZA 2R9