Ottawa homeowners unearth 19th-century sword during yard renovations

By Kevin Gallagher and Anthony Vasquez-Peddie, CTV News

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OTTAWA, Ontario (CTV Network) – Many homeowners tried to improve their homes during the pandemic, but an Ottawa family made an unexpected archaeological discovery while trying to install a new patio.

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

But what exactly did they find, and how did it get to the Sigouin court? Renée’s mission is to find out more.

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

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

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

“There may be more, but I very much doubt you would come across them as easily and in such surprising settings as someone’s backyard,” said Ben Mortimer, senior archaeologist at Matrix Heritage.

But the reason the sword was buried in their backyard still shocks the Sigouin. The former owners of the house, occupied since 1914, have not provided any leads.

It is possible that the officer who originally owned the sword has his initials engraved on the blade. The next clue to its origin could be under the sheath, but due to the level of decay, it’s a risk Brad Sigouin isn’t ready to take.

“If we take it out and they haven’t engraved it, then we’re lost because by then we would destroy the sword,” he said.

In the end, the fragile piece of Canadian history may not hold much material value, but the Sigouin have developed a sentimental attachment and hope to preserve the sword for years to come.

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