Excavation of abandoned shipyard among innovative Brock projects awarded federal funding

Along the winding river that cuts through the heart of St. Catharines lie keys to the Garden City’s maritime past, relics of a glorious industrial era still evident today.

A research team led by Brock University archaeologist and maritime historian Kimberly Monk aims to uncover an abandoned shipyard built by a Maltese immigrant in the 19th century, along with workers’ cottages and even the hull of a ship.

Brock University Professor of History Kimberly Monk takes measurements at a site where she and her team aim to uncover an abandoned shipyard in St. Catharines. Monk is one of five Brock faculty to head up projects being awarded Insight Development Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Monk’s project, the first of its kind in Canada, is one of five headed up by Brock University faculty members that have been awarded Insight Development Grants (IDG) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Brock University’s IDG awards totalled $282,388 in 2018.

Monk’s project will see a team of archaeologists, historians, geographers and geophysicists from three Ontario universities and their students excavating and documenting the Shickluna Shipyard, which operated from 1838 to 1891 along St. Catharines’ Twelve Mile Creek.

The researchers will be using cutting-edge 3D scanning and digital technologies in their investigations.

“Shipyards form an important part of the maritime landscape but opportunities to study them are rare,” says Monk, Professor of History.

“The location and extended use of this site will provide an unmatched opportunity to investigate how the shipbuilding industry shaped the social and economic culture of Niagara.”

In addition to Monk, other IDG recipients include:

  • Julia Baird, Canada Research Chair, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Faculty of Social Sciences: A comparative analysis of approaches to evaluating ecological outcomes from environmental stewardship. Baird and her team are working with the Niagara Parks Commission to compare different approaches in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of environmental stewardship initiatives.
  • Jessica Clark, Faculty of Humanities: Scents of Change: smell and selfhood in modern Britain, 1880-1930. Clark is studying modern British nationalism, identity and difference through attention to smell. She asks how certain scents, such as lavender, came to be associated with a British identity while others, including cooking odours or pollutants, could be associated with difference. This increases general understandings of historical ideas about British identity and how groups such as the urban poor or foreign nationals fit into this identity.
  • Hannah Dyer, Faculty of Social Sciences: Drawing Queer and Trans Family: Understanding Kinship through Children’s Art. Dyer and her team will ask children to draw and describe their family portraits as a way of deepening understanding of the needs and aspirations of children in LGBTQ2+ families.
  • Tim Fletcher, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences: Meaningful physical education: Testing a model for teaching and learning. Fletcher and his team will test a model for teaching physical education that prioritizes “meaningful experiences” for students, which consist of social interaction, challenge, fun, motor competence, personally relevant learning and delight.

“We’re very proud of our researchers and scholars, whose groundbreaking work increases our understanding of issues that touch upon the environment, children, history and culture,” says Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

For her part, Monk says her team’s award will go far.

“These funds will enable our multidisciplinary goals so we may address how to re-engage local historic environments and ensure heritage corridors are managed and interpreted effectively,” she says.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to document this nationally-significant archaeological site and look forward to sharing our results with the community.”

Insight Development Grants support research in its initial stages. The grants enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas. Funding is provided for short-term research development projects of up to two years, proposed by individuals or teams.

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