About the BHF

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People have lived along the coastline around Burnside, a tiny village in Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland, for over 5000 years. Archaeology has determined the age of a number of sites in the area while deciphering many details of Aboriginal life within this period. Research sponsored by the Burnside Heritage Foundation Inc. since 1989 has significantly added to this knowledge. The BHF also actively presents its ongoing research, along with the results of previous excavations, to the interested public.

Archaeological knowledge has been accumulating around Burnside for 140 years. In 1872, T.G.B. Lloyd, an English geologist, visited the Beaches archaeological site on the coast of Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland. He collected artifacts from one of the 19 pits that were the remains of Beothuk Indian houses. Archaeological research at the Beaches since then has produced evidence from six Aboriginal cultures that harvested the coastal resources around the community of Burnside from 5000 to 250 years ago. Maritime Archaic Indians inhabited the Beaches site from 5000 until at least 3600 years ago, making this one of Newfoundland's oldest occupants. Groswater Paleoeskimos succeeded the Maritime Archaic at the site and Dorset Paleoeskimos eventually replaced the Groswater people. Paleoeskimo literally means Old Eskimo. The Dorset were gone by around 1300 years ago, eventually to be replaced by the Beothuk's ancestors who were known as Beaches Complex Indians because of the initial identification of their characteristic side-notched projectile points at the Beaches site. Little Passage Complex Indians, the Beothuk's immediate ancestors, also lived at the site until they became known as Beothuk in Newfoundland's historic period. Beothuk people were the last residents of the Beaches site.

Archaeological research teams sponsored by the Burnside Heritage Foundation Inc. annually look for new sites and conduct excavations at known localities. Forty-nine sites, including the Beaches, represent Aboriginal occupations between 5000 and 250 years ago. Six non-Aboriginal sites provide evidence for 19th century European-Newfoundland activities. This research has shown that while the Beaches offered a comfortable campsite for prehistoric people it was also ideally located for harvesting plants, land animals and marine resources.

A key event in BHF archeology was a discovery of a huge Aboriginal quarry in 1990. Eleven of the BHF's sites, including 10 new localities identified since 1989, are located in the Bloody Bay Cove Quarry which is located 8 KM south of the Beaches site. The quarry is spread over an 18 hectare area and supplied the Aboriginal residents of Bonavista Bay with rhyolite stone for making arrow heads, spare heads, knives, hide scrapers and other cutting tools. Access to this strategically located quarry must have greatly facilitated hunting and gathering practices of residents of the Beaches and further removed sites. People probably regularly visited Bloody Bay Cove to obtain stone to be made into tools as they moved throughout the region in pursuit of other resources.

Public interpretation of these ancient activities is offered in Burnside. The Long Chute lookout, just off the highway leading to the village, provides a sweeping first view of the habitat under study. Visitors to the Burnside interpretation centre can observe workers as they catalogue artifacts and process the results of ongoing excavations. The Museum section of the centre summarizes local Aboriginal history, highlighting the rich ecosystem that provided the majority of resources for food and other needs. A small gift shop offers a selection of locally manufactured crafts and other carefully chosen items that reflect the BHF's subject matter.



Burnside Heritage Foundation Inc.

Mr. Bruce Hynes

Chief archaeologist

Burnside Heritage Foundation Inc.

Mr. Laurie McLean

Burnside Heritage Foundation Inc.

Main Street

Burnside, NL A0G

Tel.: (709) 677-2474


website: burnsideheritage.ca

Mailing address:

P.O Box 101

Eastport, NL A0G 1Z0

Off-season contact:

Mr. Laurie McLean

(709) 745-4687