SJJ Centennial Branch


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SJJ Burial Vault


Sir John Johnson Burial Vault: Archaeological Discoveries

Archaeological Discoveries

In 1998 Sir Peter Johnson, 6th Baronet of New York, gives his permission to excavate the Johnson Vault to the newly formed Société de restauration du patrimoine Johnson. Marie Deschênes, owner since 1995 of the Verger Monnoir upon which the Vault is located, joins the committee and gives her approval for the project.

A research permit is then negotiated between the Société de restauration du patrimoine Johnson and the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec (MCCQ) to perform field research to locate the Vault. There are two objectives: are the vault remains still there and is there evidence of human burials? The permit is issued in October 1999 and is followed on the site by an archaeologist and a contractor. A year and a day following the Memorandum of Romuald Meunier[1], on a day given over to remembrances, namely on November 11, 1999, the excavators find one of the walls of the vault some 20 feet further down the hill than expected. And thus begins the first of two “digs” or interventions archéologiques and two rapports inédit, one in 2000 (61 pages plus annexes) and one in 2003 (50 pages).

In the first archaeological excavation Gérard Gagné (PH.D) Ostéo-Archéologue locates the site of the vault and retrieves more than 120 bones from two chambers. During a second archaeological excavation more than 850 bones and bone fragments are found. They are all analyzed, labelled and carefully preserved. Twenty-six photos record the activities at various stages of the work.

And finally, officially, from la direction du Patrimoine à Québec, confirmation that le site du caveau funéraire de la famille de Sir John Johnson, à Mont-Saint-Grégoire, a été enregistré à l’Inventaire des sites archéologiques du Québec sous le code Borden BiFg-1.

Thus located, excavated, explored and registered as an archaeological site, the Sir John Johnson Burial Vault remains await restoration and reintegration.

Raymond J. Ostiguy,
© Chambly, P.Q., July 26, 2007.


1. The last two paragraphs of the Memorandum of Romuald Meunier dated November 10, 1998 explaining his reasons for bulldozing the Vault in the 1950s contain his allegations that there were no human remains remaining at the site. [keep reading]