The White Hills Neighbourhood
White Hills is, as with most north London neighbourhoods, largely suburban, except along the major arteries where there is some limited retail. There is a small enclave of custom executive homes backing onto the Medway Creek green space. The neighbourhood enjoys close proximity to the University of Western Ontario and the Masonville shopping area.
Museum of Ontario Archaeology
The Museum of Ontario Archaeology is a unique Canadian museum devoted to the study, display, and interpretation of the human occupation of Southwestern Ontario over the past 11,000 years. The Museum is located beside the Lawson Prehistoric Iroquoian Village, a site occupied by the Neutral Iroquoians in the 16th century A.D.
The Museum of Ontario Archaeology had its earliest beginnings at The University of Western Ontario with the grand vision of Wilfrid Jury(1890-1981). The Museum grew out of a collection of artifacts started by young Wilf Jury and his father, Amos Jury(1861-1964) in the early part of this century. From those early days of relic collecting came a lifelong career for Wilfrid Jury and the London Museum of Archaeology, an institution that is one of the finest archaeological research and interpretive centres in Canada.
The Lawson site is a 500-year-old Neutral Indian village situated on a flat plateau overlooking the confluence of Medway River and Snake Creek in northwest London. Prehistoric Neutral Indians selected this location for a major village due to its defensible characteristics, access to water, and proximity to a wide variety of animals, fish and wild plants which would have inhabited the Medway River and Snake Creek ravines.
The site is 2 hectares (5 acres) in size and was occupied by an estimated 2000 people. It is one of the many known prehistoric Neutral sites but one of only a few where earthworks are preserved. Earthworks were linear mounds of earth about one metre in height which were deliberately piled up to help support the palisades that surrounded the village. These earthworks remain visible on the undisturbed portion of the site.
Three-quarters of the Lawson site remains covered by trees and is undisturbed. The northern quarter of the site had been cleared for agriculture in the mid to late 1800’s and was farmed up to 1975. Prior to 1920, the Lawson family purchased the undisturbed portion of the site. The first detailed scientific excavation of the site was carried out in the summers of 1921, 1922 and 1923 by William J. Wintemberg of the Victoria Museum, Ottawa (today the Canadian Museum of Civilization). Wilfrid Jury, Amos Jury, and Tom Lawson met Wintemberg at that time and he further stimulated their interest in archaeology. Wilfrid and Amos later excavated portions of the site in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
The first modern excavations were conducted at the site in 1976 by William D. Finlayson with an archaeological field school from the Department of Anthropology at The University of Western Ontario.
In 1978 museum archaeologist Robert J. Pearce began to direct public excavations and reconstruction at the site. Major excavations, focusing on the ploughed, disturbed northern portion of the site, were undertaken between 1978 and 1981. Annual excavations since then have contributed to our understanding of this complex site and also serve to demonstrate archaeological techniques to the public.
Reconstruction of one longhouse and of the palisades and earthworks around the northern periphery of the site was initiated in 1978 and continues today. The Lawson site is the only prehistoric archaeological site in Canada which has ongoing excavation and reconstruction open to the public. It continues to receive local, provincial, national and international recognition and to attract visitors from all corners of the world. Lawson was the only archaeological site in Canada to be featured in the National Geographic Society’s book America’s Ancient Cities. The artifacts and data from the site have been researched not only by the museum’s archaeologists, but by scholars from the United States, Germany, Great Britain and elsewhere.
Source: Museum of Ontario Archaeology
The Medway Valley Heritage Forest
The Medway Valley Heritage Forest Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) is located in north London, roughly beween Windermere, Fanshawe Park, Western and Wonderland Roads. The publicly-owned lands cover 129 hectares, between the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate and Sunningdale Road. The ESA includes floodplain forests, swamps, marshes and forested valley slopes. Medway Creek winds between steep banks up to 25 metres in height.
The 10.6 km of trails follow both sides of the creek. The terrain is rolling with several steep climbs.
The managed trails are marked with yellow blazes on the trees. Several small bridges and stairwells have been constructed over wet or steep terrain. Care must be taken when the water is high or the trail is wet.
The wooded slopes and river have been used by Aboriginal peoples for thousands of years. Over 500 years ago, a Neutral (Attawandaron) village stood at the site of the Museum of Ontario Archaeology near Wonderland Road. European settlers logged and farmed the valley in the 19th and 20th centuries. The remains of a mill dam can be seen about 500 m west of Western Road.
After 1945, the land was retired from farming and allowed to re-naturalize. Residential development around the Medway began in 1960.
Over the last 40 years, the lands were donated to and acquired by the City of London and the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. The Elsie Perrin Williams Estate donated the first 24 ha.
Western University and affiliated colleges own wooded land to the east of the public ESA.
Parks and Other Places of Interest
In addition to the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, the area is also blessed to back onto the Medway Creek Valley which includes the Hutton Gate Park, and Sherwood Forest Park. Other parks in the area include Jaycee and Norwest Optimist Parks.
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