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Monashee Mountain Internment Camp - Day 10: Hammer Heads and Hole Shenanigans

Written by: Nikki Simon

July 29th, 2021

Being that Day 10 was our second to last day to really get work done on-site, we dove into it with gusto, hoping to get as much work in as we could. Things start to get a little hectic at this part in the process. There is an internal tug of war that begins to occur between units needing to be wrapped up and loose ends tied, and the fundamental need to keep going and continue to uncover data that contributes to your research. That being the case, no new units opened up on Day 10; we all just worked on finishing the sites that we had already been working on or those that were still in question.

Flag Pole Road #5 (Rory) - Rory continued to work in the 1 meter unit that they had opened at the end of their monumental plank. The reward was discovering yet ANOTHER plank (ugh.) running parallel with the first, and a third partial plank running at a slight angle to the other two - likely shifted out of place over time. It was then Rory's duty to follow the plank until the end, or another plank was uncovered. Fun!

In all seriousness, I feel that I should note that despite my obvious disdain for planks, finding these planked areas has been intrinsic to the process. With the limited documentation that remains regarding Monashee, these wooden remains are one of the few ways we have of determining how the camp was laid out when referenced with the photographs. If it weren't for these floors, we might not have known that there was a whole second half of the camp to the north!

Flag Pole Road #3 (Colton and Nikki) - Colton and I started the day by wrapping up this pit. This unit was essentially sterile when we began, with just a couple of pieces of potential clay pipe found the day before. That being the case, I was less helping Colton excavate and more impressing upon him the importance of having straight walls and a level unit by forcing him to have both before actually calling his unit sterile. I'm just a great teacher that way, what can I say. Colton was desperately sad by the end, not having found a pipe.

After round one of Colton's suffering ended, we moved right into round two, where we worked on doubling the size of the "privy" we had previously excavated. It was such an odd structure in such an odd location that Sarah just wanted to be absolutely sure that there was nothing there. In this process, we became miners rather than archaeologists, heave-hoing an endless number of rocks out of what came to be known as the Pit of Despair. By the end of the day, Chantelle and I decided it was the perfect size for Colton to take a nap in, and after the hard work, he was more than willing.

Just down the hill from Colton and I, Keegan and Holly had finished their holiday working on Flag Pole Road #4 and were back to steadfastly working on their good old weird set of planks. They followed each of these to their ends, trying to find new ones as they went and, in particular, one that would align with Rory's giant plank. Theoretically, the reasoning was that all of Flag Pole Road might have been the same unit, namely, the mess tent. That would account for the length of the planks and the sheer size of the space consumed. However, as Dan noted, mess tents didn't necessarily have wooden flooring; why bother floor an area that one isn't living in?

Having finished finding the boundaries of her unit, Katy was finally permitted to lift the floorboards at the westward end. This was an exciting moment as Katy had been fining things partially beneath the floorboards of her unit from the very beginning. True to fashion, Katy pretty much immediately found an amazing artifact, a 4 lb hammerhead, lucky duck! Katy ended up opening two mini 25-centimetre test pits where the floorboards had been; from these, she pulled only a single buckle (only!), but that was alright; Katy had had enough finds in the last couple days to last her the rest of her life.

Chantelle, being the superstar that she is, was all over the camp. Beginning the day by completing the cleaning and recording of her unit, she moved to help Keagan and Holly as a sifter in the afternoon. The two of them had so much area to cover and not enough hands while also doing the sifting, but Chantelle didn't mind. Still, when sifting was no longer exciting enough, she looked to her right, saw Colton and me mildly dying in the "privy," swept in, mattock in hand, and saved the day.

POW Test Pit #11 (Sarah) - Sarah spent a little bit of time in her bowl unit; sadly, nothing more was uncovered. Most of Sarah's day was spent with our resident videographer Greg and fielding questions from all of us. Greg interviewed Sarah extensively for the documentary, and the two of them worked together to ensure that Greg was supplied with all of the information and shots that he would need to complete his work.

We all went on a hike together to round off our day. We headed over to the northern portion of the site, intending to discover the location that the photographer had shot Monashee from back when the camp was first formed. Greg was determined to recreate the shot with our excavation site, and, as always, we were eager to please. So, we scampered up and down the mountain path like a row of little ducklings, eventually devolving into a game of Marco Polo in a desperate attempt to find the right location in amongst the sea of trees. Ultimately, we found a spot that Greg deemed good enough, and that was the end of our day!

The days had become increasingly hot and the air increasingly thick with smoke. So, we all piled into cars, eager to be back at our cabins where we could have a deliciously cool shower and wash away another day of good hard work. We enjoyed a delectable meal of stirfry, rice and salad and settled in for a reserved night of reading and homework.


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