Canada

Ottawa homeowners unearth 19th-century sword during backyard renovations

OTTAWA —
Many homeowners have taken a stab at home improvements during the pandemic, but one Ottawa family made an unexpected archeological discovery while trying to install a new deck.

A corroded sword was unearthed in Brad and Renee Sigouin’s backyard as contractors were building the deck in April of last year. Thankfully, the relic survived in one piece.

But what exactly had they found, and how did it get in the Sigouins’ backyard? Renee made it her mission to find out more.

“I’m not a historian or anything, but I got crazy on the Internet trying to find any information I could,” she told CTV National News.

After consulting archeologists and military historians, the Sigouins learned their backyard artifact was once used by British and Canadian officers in the 19th century. A historian at the Canadian War Museum confirmed the weapon was made sometime after 1897 and used by an Ottawa regiment that fought during the Boer War.

The sword is indeed a rare find, but it’s not the first time a military artifact has been unearthed Ottawa. A British cavalry sword was found during the construction of Ottawa’s light rail network nine years ago.

“There’s possibly more, but I would highly doubt you’re going to come across them all that easily, and in such surprising contexts as someone’s backyard,” Matrix Heritage senior archeologist Ben Mortimer said.

But the reason the sword was buried in their backyard still stumps the Sigouins. Former owners of the home, which has been occupied since 1914, haven’t provided any leads.

It’s possible the officer who originally owned the sword had their initials engraved on the blade. The next clue to its origin could be underneath the sheath, but due to the level of decay it’s a risk Brad Sigouin isn’t willing to take.

“If we take it off and they didn’t engrave it, then we’re at a loss because at that point in time we would destroy the sword,” he said.

Ultimately, the fragile piece of Canadian history might not have much material value, but the Sigouins have developed a sentimental attachment and hope to preserve the sword for years to come.


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