Monday, 12 March 2012


From the Fenwick "papers", Nipigon Historical Museum Archives

Headline in The News Chronicle, January 26, 1938, pages 1 & 2
The Lakehead Cities, Port Arthur and Fort William, Westfort - Schreiber and Nipigon

James E. Dodd Says He Has Good Proof Discovery Genuine

Port Arthur Man Declares Statement Made at Winnipeg "False and Malicious" - Says Professor Himself Dug up Part of a Sword in Same Area - Charge Articles Found in Basement

A further contribution to the report concerning discovery of Viking relics on the James E. Dodd mining property near Beardmore was made this afternoon by J. M. Hanson, Port Arthur contractor and builder, who told the News- Chronicle in an exclusive interview that he owned relics answering to the description of those found on Dodd's property and that he had kept them in the basement of a house in which Dodd had been a tenant two years ago.

Mr. Hanson said he had accepted a collection of old relics from a Norwegian named Black, in settlement of an account. A native of Norway himself, Mr. Hanson said he recognized the articles as of historical importance, and that he valued them at $150.

James E. Dodd, on whose Beardmore mining property were reported to be found relics linking this district with Viking adventurers of a thousand years ago, today stoutly denied reports that the Norse weapons had been "planted" in order to create a sensation.

"They started a story like that several years ago," he said, "but I have my son and another man to prove that I found them while cross-trenching on my property. Not only that, but a university professor himself dug up part of a Viking sword in the same area last year."

Shown a dispatch from Winnipeg in which a former Port Arthur resident had made the charge of "planting", Mr. Dodd branded the report as "false and malicious."
"That fellow's word isn't good anywhere," he said. "I see he claims I found the relics in the basement of a house on Wilson Street. Well, I didn't live on Wilson Street until 1934 and I made my first discovery on May 24, 1931. He never saw the relics until three years later, so what does he know about it?"

Mr. Dodd was surprissed that the story of the discovery had been made public.

"I promised the archaeology fellow who was up here last year that I wouldn't say anything about it until we had further proof," he declared, "and he promised me the same thing. I don't know how the newspapers got hold of it at all."

"Do you really believe the things you found are Viking weapons that have been on your property for more than nine hundred years?" he was asked.

"I don't know how long they have been there, but the archaeology fellow says they are the genuine article," was the reply. "When I first ran across the stuff after we had blasted on a cross trench I thought so little of it I threw it upon sthe bank and left it there for two years."

"What led you to ask the opinion of archaeology experts?" the News-Chronicle asked.
Professor Interested
"I happened to show the things to Professor Burwash and he was interested. That's how we got working on the stuff."

In addition to the sword, shield handle and battle axe, discovery of which was reported yesterday by Phillip Godsell, other articles had also been found, Mr. Dodd said. He would not say what the other articles had been.

"I'm not telling anything. You'll have to get in touch with the Ontario Museum or Professor McIlraith," he said. "I didn't want to have anything in the papers at all."

He added that a party of Toronto men planned to visit the property this summer and conduct a more intensive search for further articles of historical interest.

"That's all I have to say," Mr. Dodd concluded. "I don't know anything about these things. I don't know if the Vikings left them there or if somebody else left them. All I know is they were buried in my property and I found them on May 24, 1931. I'm not an archaeology fellow, and I just have to take their word for what the swords and things are."


Interviewed yesterday, before the telegram from Winnipeg had been received questioning the merits of his discovery, the veteran prospector was equally non-committal, about the matter.

"THere's really nothing to say," he averred. "We found a few things while doing assessment work on mining claims some years ago. We found more last summer and we think we may make further discoveries next summer, too."

"What sort of 'discoveries'?" we persisted.

"Well, the archaeology fellow tells me they're weapons used by the Vikings some time in the tenth or eleventh century. We found a piece of a sword, part of a shield and a battle axe among other things."

The weapons when found, he added, were in a poor state of preservation. "Just a few odds and ends of rusty metal, you might say," Mr. Dodd explained.

Discovery of the find, which archaeologists believe may prove the Vikings reached much further into the interior of Canada than was previously thought came about entirely by accident, according to the old-time prospector.


"We were cross-trenching on our claims about six years ago when we turned up the first piece," he said. "I forget what it was at the moment, but I mentioned it to Professor Burwash one time and he became interested. Then some experts found that they compared identically with weapons used by the Norsemen."

Other artcles were found in subsequent years, he added, and last year the sword and part of a shield were uncovered.

Mr. Dodd said he believed that a more intensive search of the area would reveal additional relics.

"There's a heavy overburden on the property, and almost anything might be buried under it," he affirmed. "We made our early finds when we weren't expecting them, but now we intend to really get over the ground and see if anything else is there."

This prospector said he had promised his colleagues that he would maintain secrecy about the discoveries until they could be conclusively proved of Viking origin, but the press dispatch from Winnipeg yesterday revealed the secret prematurely. He would not tell the location of the property in question or describe the articles found in any detail.

"That's up to the archaeology people," he said. "They know what those things are and I don't. All I know is that they look pretty old and rusty and they may be of some historical value."

1 comment:

  1. This does not sound like the words of a man looking to "cause a sensation" or make a profit. Mr. Dodd was trying to avoid attention and making no big claims of his own. he was trusting the "Archaeology fellow" to handle the job of sorting out the authenticity and meaning of his finds. To me this all rings true.

    As to later on claim by his step-son that his father faked the whole thing, the son retracted his affidavit and said he had personal issues against his step-father and wanted to hurt his reputation when he filed his false affidavit.

    Likewise, the guy who claimed to have owned the iron objects and left them in a basement that had been rented to Dodd, later visited the Ontario Royal museum to examine the Beardmore Relics and confirmed that they looked NOTHING LIKE the objects he lost in that basement.

    What disturbs me most is that Dodd put his faith in the "Archaeology fellows" and they let him down. Where are the "other iron objects" from his property. Are they buried in the museum, or what?

    Erik Rurikson