More than a century ago had you told an Irish labourer, Jewish peddler, or African-American washerwoman—all residents of “the Ward,” Toronto’s impoverished and squalid downtown immigrant quarter—that one day in the future their discarded soda pop bottles, broken dishes, shoes, furniture, and toys would be considered a “treasure trove” by archaeologists and historians, they surely would have howled with laughter. And who knows what they would have thought about these social scientists digging up their backyard privies and mining the fossilized remains? But according to archaeologist Holly Martelle, “much can be learned from both the fecal matter itself and the objects deposited in privies as trash.” The analysis of old excrement, she adds, can reveal all sorts of secrets about diet, food preference and the “seasonality of privy use.”
By no means was nineteenth-century Toronto anything like ancient Athens or...
To read this article, you must buy the issue or have LRC Web Full-Text Access.
If you already have Web Full-Text Access to Literary Review of Canada content, please log in with one of the two options below.
If not, sign up today!
- Not already an LRC subscriber? Subscribe today, and be sure to select either the “DIGITAL” or “PRINT and DIGITAL” option. You’ll then be entitled to read this — and other magazine content from past and current issues — in full! (Note: Web Full-Text Access will take effect the following business day.)
- Already a subscriber to the LRC‘s Print edition, but haven’t yet signed up for Web Full-Text Access? Contact us and we’ll reply right away with instructions on how to upgrade your existing subscription.
Log In Option 1
Log In Option 2
* Subscribers who have chosen to receive both the LRC‘s print and digital editions can find their subscriber number in the address area of any recent printed copy cover, above their name; it is six digits long, immediately following “LRC.”