ALBERTA

Fort Calgary Uncovers Mummified Rat, 1890s Newspaper During Hunt House Restoration

01/08/2015 05:16 EST | Updated 03/10/2015 05:59 EDT
Vitaliy Pakhnyushchyy via Getty Images
Fort Calgary workers are uncovering a wide range of rare artifacts as they continue to restore the Hunt House in Inglewood. 

A mummified rat, a child's toy and a 125-year-old newspaper are some of the items that have been discovered in the building and buried beneath the structure.

"It's completely unexpected," said Fort Calgary's Cynthia Klaassen. "It's been like a treasure hunt actually."

Preservation specialists have been working to restore Hunt House for the last 12 months. The structure is considered Calgary's oldest building still in its original location.

The Hunt House is a one room building that was likely constructed in the 1870s or 1880s. It is located across the Elbow River from Fort Calgary.

"It doesn't have the grandiosity of something like the Lougheed House would have, but it really is important to Calgary's history," said Klaassen.

The building is a rare look at how the founders of Calgary lived more than a century ago.

"It will become Fort Calgary's most important artifact. We will use that to tell the story of Fort Calgary as a site and we will also use it to tell the story of the Hudson's Bay company that first arrived in Calgary," said Klaassen.

Several items found

The most recent artifact was a rolled up newspaper discovered in the roof of the house. It was likely placed there as added insulation for the log cabin. The newspaper is the Sept. 5, 1890, edition of The Carlisle Journal.

One of the most interesting discoveries is believed to be a mummified rat found underneath the cabin's floor.

Workers have uncovered several glass bottles. One is from London in the 1920s and another is a vanilla bottle from the Hudson's Bay.

Workers also uncovered a piece of wood believed to be a child's block. It was found underneath the building along with a pair of shoes.

Preservation work

Most of the discoveries are made by Dave Chalmers, who is contracted to preserve the log cabin. Each log and board is inspected for deterioration. They are then restored using epoxy and original wood fibres. Chalmers is hoping to finish the restoration by the spring.

- Watch the video below for more from Chalmers on the rare finds

Chalmers says as someone who has grown up in Calgary this is the pinnacle of his career.