In 2000, Fort Simpson saw it’s first archeological dig at the Fort Simpson Heritage Park where MacPherson House stands. Tom Andrews of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, NT carried out limited testing to see if archaeological deposits did in fact exist. They did find a number of artifacts, and a more extensive dig was planned for 2002. To learn more about the 2000 archaeological dig visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.
In 2002, the Fort Simpson Historical Society, supported by the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and carried out under the direction of Jean-Luc Pilon, a small group of local volunteers gathered in Fort Simpson to carry out the dig. It was thought that the Fort Simpson Heritage Park was the original site of Fort of the Forks, a North West Company post dating to 1803.
Four test trenches were laid out and there were some interesting features discovered. The first conclusion was that probably due to ploughing and farming activities, there was a serious disturbance of the soil mixing 19th and 20th century artifacts. In one trench they found a deep pit but few artifacts were found in it. In the journal of W.F. Wentzel kept at the Fort of the Forks in the early 1800’s, he describes root cellars for the garden’s product as well as an ice house. It was concluded that this deep pit was in all likelihood a root cellar.
More details of this archaeological dig can be learned at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.