The Friends of Murphys Point Park
Brenda Kennett & Jeff Earl
Receiving the award:
Jeff Earl, Brenda Kennett, Stephanie Gray, Judy Bufton
In the late 1990s, Murphys Point Park – located near Perth, Ontario - identified the need to document, understand, and interpret its cultural resources. Two particular areas within Park boundaries on the shores of the Big Rideau Lake contained extant built heritage and were singled out for an in-depth study: the McParlan Homestead (circa 1820) and Burgess Mill, one of the earliest saw mills on the Big Rideau Lake. Between 2000 and 2004, the Park supported professional archaeological research on these two areas and the analysis and final report concluded that there was ample opportunity for public archaeology at the sites.
The archaeological work at the McParlan Homestead and the Burgess Mill sites became known as the Hogg Bay Project, after the small body of water which ties together these historically significant elements. The project represents all of the park’s major interpretive cultural sub-themes, including settlement, subsistence farming, transportation, communication, small scale south Canadian Shield mining, early recreation and, possibly, aboriginal cultures. The Friends of Murphys Point Park embraced the idea of bringing the past to the public by developing an archaeology based public program that would not only involve park visitors, but the broader community. History and archaeology are also components in the Ontario elementary school curriculum particularly in Grades 4 to 6. Together the Friends and Brenda and Jeff have initiated and guided what is now known as the Archaeo-Apprentice Program. Hundreds of school children, their teachers, and parents have experienced the classroom orientation with a detailed workbook and sample of artifacts followed by a day in the field at Murphys Point Park. The funding has been key and each year the Friends embark on a fundraising campaign and have gained much ongoing support from the public and corporate sponsors through the area.
As the Friends approached their 15th Anniversary celebrations, it seemed appropriate that they also receive the recognition they deserve for a successful public archaeology program. Brenda and Jeff are known for their professionalism and steadfast support of local archaeology.