Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Tracy Prowse


Megan Brickley



Committee Member

Henry Schwarcz


This thesis uses stable isotopic analysis to identify diet, geographic origins and long-term residency in a sub-sample of the Smith’s Knoll skeletal collection, soldiers who died during the June 6th 1813 Battle of Stoney Creek. The major objectives of this study have been to differentiate between two major modes of dietary consumption, one wheat-based, the other maize-based, in an attempt to decipher British colonial from American soldiers. These objectives were paired with stable oxygen and strontium isotopes, two isotopic elements presently used to identify migration and regional origins. Oxygen isotopic results from teeth suggest that, as children, 5 individuals may have originated in North America. Nine individuals have isotopic signatures indicative of both a North American or United Kingdom origins. The isotopic composition from bone collagen and phosphate suggest similar geographic origins, with diets composed of both wheat- and maize-based foods. Bone phosphate values indicate that 2 individuals possibly resided in North America. The remaining 20 individuals have bone values indicative of long-term residency in both geographic regions with a significant amount of dietary mixing. These results suggest that other military participants, soldiers from the King’s 8th Regiment and Canadian militiamen, may also be represented in this study. Prior investigations have omitted this crucial information, focusing their historic research primarily on the British 49th Regiment. The data presented in this thesis offers a broader geographic, pan-nationalistic perspective on the possible infantrymen and militiamen who fought during the battle, including select Canadian militiamen from the Niagara region and the King’s 8th Regiment from Britain.

McMaster University Library

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