Discover Ontario's history as told through its plaques
2004 - Now in our 13th Year - 2017
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Neutral Indian Burial-Ground
Photo by Alan L Brown - Posted August, 2004
Photo by contributor Wayne Adam - Posted February, 2012
Coordinates: N 43 11.336 W 79 33.164
This nearby burial-ground, one of few representative sites known to have survived relatively intact in Ontario, was used by the Neutral Indians, a confederacy of Iroquoian tribes which occupied the area around western Lake Ontario before 1655. The remains of over 373 individuals were carefully interred here in 31 single graves and 24 multiple graves. Revered by the Neutrals, these remains were typically accompanied by a variety of wares, including carved combs, pipes, pottery, beads, and mid-seventeenth century European trade goods. The burial-ground, discovered in 1976, provides an invaluable record of late Neutral burial-customs and material culture. The remains were reinterred in 1977.
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> Posted February 11, 2017
The Royal Ontario Museum proceeded with its excavation of the burials without any permits - archaeological or from the Medical Officer of Health, as required by law. They also removed the remains without permits, and the permits were required by the Ontario Cemeteries Act. The pioneer cemetery across the road was only 150 years younger than the Attiwandaronon cemetery, and nobody was removing those remains to make room for townhouses. The arrest and conviction of Dr. Walter Kenyon - the first conviction in the history of the Cemeteries Act - led to a change in Ontario law, with greater protection for Indigenous cemeteries. The provincial government is also more careful to distinguish between archaeological work in general and interfering with human remains. The presumption now is that cemeteries will remain in place unless they cannot be protected properly. The reburial site is not marked ("real" cemeteries would be fenced in and protected from dog excrement and other inconsistent deposits) or protected.
Paul Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
> Posted October 12, 2013
I lived in Grimsby at this time as a kid and remember seeing the dig site. I have gone back and noted that houses have been built over the site. Were the bodies moved?
> Posted February 15, 2012
My mother and grandmother said (both deceased) that our relations are Neutral Indians out of Canada. My great grandmother's married name is Benner. She was a 100% Neutral. That is all the information I have.
> Posted November 5, 2011
Kenyon, along side the ROM and other archaeologists from the museum worked the site, cataloged the remains (which are in the book Kenyon published) and grave furniture and once that was complete interred the remains and furniture once again. It is one of the most preserved burial sites in S. Ontario. However I would have to say that the historical plaque inclusion of the Neutrals known as the Chonnonton in their language, Attawandaron (people who spoke differently) by the Huron in the Iroquois language group appears outdated now. The Grimsby Museum has a copy of the book containing the dig information which was published by Kenyon and the Royal Ontario Museum sometime shortly after the interment. Outside of this copy I have not come across another.
> Posted December 4, 2010
According to Kenyon, in his book, "The Grimsby Site: A Historic Neutral Cemetery," the site was discovered in 1976 by a local resident by the name of Mr. Lawson Allez, who was searching for arrowheads on a property that was under development. Mr. Allez phoned the Royal Ontario Museum with notification of the discovery of human remains, and Kenyon arrived on October 14, 1976 to start the excavation. The excavations were not completed until April 4, 1977.
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