Workers from Golder Associates sift through soil for First Nations remains and artifacts on Craigflower elementary school property on Wednesday.

Known Craigflower bridge archeology site yields human remains

The construction site around Craigflower bridge where human remains were found this week is well-known First Nations archeology site.

The construction site around Craigflower bridge where two sets of human remains were found this week is well-known First Nations archeology site.

Saanich and View Royal were prepared for the possibility of discovering culturally significant material on the land that will soon house a jointly owned replacement bridge, and sought out an archaeological monitor for the land before work even began.

“The area’s middens are known to contain human remains and the monitor will ensure that the terms of the permit are met should human remains be found,” reads a request for proposals from the municipalities issued last month.

On Monday, crews from B.C. Hydro were excavating by hand between the Craigflower elementary property and the sidewalk on Admirals Road to prepare for the installation of temporary power poles, when they encountered human remains, said Jim Hemstock, Saanich’s manager of capital works.

“They had an archaeologist on site monitoring things. They also had a First Nations monitor,” he said. “The lead on this now is First Nations. We consult with the elders and we really follow their direction.”

Grant Keddie, curator of archaeology at the Royal B.C. Museum, said there’s evidence First Nations occupied that site as long as 2,800 years ago.

“It appears that a part of the site was occupied very early on, and then (1,600 years) later a larger portion of the site was used,” he said. “It certainly wasn’t occupied continuously, but it was occupied at different time periods.”

A midden, in archaeological terms, is a site where animal bones and shells are found in heaps, indicating that area was – at some point in history – occupied by humans.

“Practically with all these shell middens, people are buried behind the village or in an abandoned area, so the vast majority of these large middens are expected to have human remains in them,” Keddie said.

Saanich and View Royal are now working with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, ancestors of the people who inhabited the area, on the next steps.

This discovery, Hemstock said, hasn’t changed the bridge project timeline. It actually expedited more thorough testing of the surrounding land.

The possibility remains, he said, of finding more bones.

“Until we know entirely what’s there, it’s hard to predict – that’s why we’re starting this work early,” Hemstock said. “We were prepared for this.”

Construction on the new Craigflower Bridge is expected to begin in April and is slated to last six months.

The 80-year-old, timber-beam span will be replaced by a three-lane steel bridge, double the width of the existing bridge, at an estimated cost of $11.9 million.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Goldstream Avenue development on schedule to open next winter

Pacifica development adds 150 units of affordable housing

SCREECH: Transportation service will give residents and businesses a say in improving the system

Transportation issues are top of mind across the Capital Regional District. If… Continue reading

Artists find showcase at Coast Collective gallery

Art from the Attic showcases forgotten treasures

Drop off your old branches in Colwood

Program helps keep city yards tidy

Premier John Horgan announces improvements to Highway 14

Construction on the $10 million project is set to begin immediately

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Most Read