Last week at their Huron Natural Area the City of Kitchener installed several signs near the entryway and along the trails. These signs interpret the ecology and cultural history of the area and feature illustrations I created this past winter.

front entrance five signs

At the entrance to the Huron Natural Area are five new signs, four of which feature my illustrations.

Several years ago The City of Kitchener undertook an environmental assessment in a part of the Huron Natural Area where they wanted to place another trail. An archaeological dig, part of the assessment, uncovered the remnants of a Neutral village approximately 500 years old, including evidence of 10 longhouses and numerous artifacts. Today, you can walk over the site on a new boardwalk, carefully located after consultation from the Ministry of Culture and the Six Nations. Vegetation covers the archaeological site, but now you can get an idea of what the village might have looked like from the recently-installed sign that I illustrated:

village sign landscape

Trailside sign near Strasburg Creek, Huron Natural Area, Kitchener, Ontario

village snapshot

Illustration of Neutral Nation village by Emily S. Damstra, ©The City of Kitchener

The anthropological illustrations I created required a significant amount of research and much of the information I could find about the Neutral Nation was subject to interpretation. In that regard, I was grateful for the assistance of Paul Racher from Archaeological Research Associates. In the fishing illustration below, for example, my original illustration showed the man using a net to catch the fish, but Paul’s consultation with the Six Nations suggested a spear would have been more likely, so I altered the illustration accordingly. (The fish, if you’re wondering, are white suckers).


Illustration showing a Neutral man spear fishing ©Emily S. Damstra

One of the newly-installed signs is located near the Board of Education Pond in the Huron Natural Area, and this one focuses on an ecological rather than anthropological subject – turtle habitat.

turtle sign landscape

Turtle habitat sign, Board of Education Pond, Huron Natural Area, Kitchener, Ontario

My illustration shows turtle activities – hibernating, nesting, foraging, and basking – in the same landscape as what you see behind the sign in the photo above. The illustration shows the landscape in all four seasons, explaining which activities happen in which season(s).

turtle sign close up

Turtle habitat sign close-up, illustration by Emily S. Damstra

See more of the illustrations I created for the Huron Natural Area here.

An article about the Neutral Village archaeological site may be found on page 6 in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Your Kitchener.

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