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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

HEIRS learns about the artifacts a local farmer has uncovered

by Sylene Argent

Last Thursday, Ken Hunter, a local farmer, was the special guest speaker at the Harrow Early Immigrant Research Society (HEIRS) meeting, which was held in conjunction with the Essex Municipal Heritage Committee in celebration of Heritage Week.

Over his career as a farmer, Hunter has found many Native American artifacts. His interest in finding the historical pieces started with spotting arrowheads at the age of eight, while plowing the fields with his dad. Hunter said, at that time, his dad would pick the artifacts up and share the significance of the find.

At the age of ten, Hunter said he wanted to find his own artifacts. He took some advice from his dad as to where he may be successful in finding one. At first, it seemed he would come up empty handed, but Hunter did not stay disappointed for long. When he glanced down, there ended up being one right between his feet.

“It takes a trained eye to see them,” Hunter said.

He eventually had a good collection of artifacts, of which some he gave to an uncle. 

Years later, Hunter’s son took several arrowheads and two skinning stones to display at school. Hunter said his dad told him the skinning stones were used to remove fat from hides after a hunt. Dishearteningly, a few of those artifacts did not make it back to his son after they were passed around the classroom. Hunter would find out who had taken them, but never got the items back.

The arrowheads he has found over the years vary in size, and Hunter has been told that is because they would have had different uses. For instance, Hunter once found a very tiny arrowhead, which was likely used to hunt birds.

One day, when his daughter was 13, Hunter was building a horse stall in Colchester. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to look for artifacts, he sent his daughter out into a nearby field to look. She returned to say she was unable to find any. He later asked her to look in a pile of stone he had seen nearby. She came back with what he believed was a Native American tool.

Hunter said he has found a little bit of everything. He found out some of the tools he found were actually arrowheads, which were dipped in poison for war.

Hunter once found a teeny, round stone in the sand one day. He eventually had the opportunity to asked a 104-year-old Native American what it was. After showing him the artifact, Hunter was told the stone could be heated up and could burn holes through leather. Other artifacts he sought information on turned out to be a Medicine Man knife and another was a Medicine Man’s stone, he said.

  Other stones, he said, can be flat with holes, which could have been worn.

The best time to look for artifacts is early in the morning, when the sun is low, he said adding the mostly likely area to find arrowheads is nearing water.

The Canadian government, to his knowledge, passed a law in 1970s that stopped people from picking up artifacts and bringing them home.

“There is no money in is, but it is fun, it is interesting,” Hunter said of looking for artifacts.

The Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village, Hunter said, has some beautiful artifacts on display. He urged those interested in the subject to visit the local museum. These artifacts were brought to the meeting to enhance the special occasion.  

Rita Jabbour, Essex’s Town Planner, is also the Town staff liaison on the Essex Municipal Heritage Committee.  She said the Committee was proud to sponsor this event and looks forward to sponsoring more special guest speakers in the future.


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