In 2012, Davis MacIntyre & Assocaites conducted an archaeological resource impact assessment of the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa. 


Investigative Stage


Background Research:

Background research identified both precontact and historic period First Nations occupation in the general area of the Digby Pines Resort. Historic Mi'kmaq settlement occured in the Digby area and specifically along the waterfront of the Digby Pines between at least as early as 1759 until 1946. Small Mi'kmaq encampments existed in the area and two of these encampments were subjects in a coloured postcard. Drying racks or drying racks with branches are seen in both postcards. The oral tradition of Digby residents also identifies the inhabitants of the encampments as basket makers, using materials such as ash. An ash basket made by Mi'kmaq in the Digby area survives and is displayed in the Admiral Digby Museum.  In 1946, with centralization as a driving force, Mi'kmaq living in the Digby encampments were forcibly removed and relocated. The exact location of the encampments could not be determined.


Historical European presence in the area began in 1604 with the French settlement of Port Royal. The town of Digby was settled mainly by Loyalists who began to arrive in 1783, including a significant number of free black Loyalists. The Pines Hotel was constructed in either 1893 or 1903 and was full of the modern conveniences of the time - including hot and cold running water and electricity. By 1916, the hotel and surrounding area were being used to house various military units including the 237th American Legion, the 4th Pioneer Battalion and the 209th Battalion. The officers of these units lodged in the hotel while their men camped on the grounds. The property continued to be used as a hotel after World War I, passing through several owners until 1929 when the hotel building was torn down and the New Pines Hotel was built.


Reconnaissance:

The field reconnaissance identified several middens, two stone walls, two possible house foundations, two possible barn foundations, an historic dam, a 20th century dam and a possible farm site. The locations of the sites are now known and can be avoided or mitigated during any future development. The reconnaissance did not locate any visible evidence of the Mi'kmaq encampments known to have existed in the area.  


Archaeological Testing:

Testing was conducted at one of the middens to attempt to ascertain the age and tradition of the midden, as it could potentially be related to historic Mi'kmaq settlement. However, the testing was inconclusive as it revealed 19th and 20th century material which was not exclusively used by Mi'kmaq people.

1914 postcard of a Mi'kmaq group living at Digby. On the left extending out of frame appears to be a drying rack for branches used in basket making (Courtesy Images Nova Scotia)

A 1905 postcard showing the original Pines Hotel (Courtesy Image Nova Scotia)

 

The Digby Pines Resort viewed from the Digby town side of the Raquette

1928 postcard of a Mi'kmaq group at Digby. The drying branches in the background are possibly related to basket making (Courtesy Images Nova Scotia)

Photograph of 4th Pioneer Battalion during medical exams at the Pines (Courtesy Admiral Digby Museum)

A basket made by a Mi'kmaq group encamped near the Raquette and now held by the Admiral Digby Museum

A stone bridge trestle noted during the field reconnaissance