The Ontario Archaeological Society began in 1950 as the joint project of a group of enthusiastic amateurs whose interest in "buried history" had been sparked by the exciting lectures of John Norman Emerson, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

Publication of original and authoritative archaeological works has always been a major aim of the society, although shortage of funds made it difficult to achieve that goal in the early years. Some early mimeographed pieces set the stage, but the first printed issue of Ontario Archaeology appeared in 1958. The newsletter Arch Notes, which started as a one-pager, is now an established and substantial publication.

Growth of membership and support from the Ontario and federal governments finally made it possible for the OAS to get its very own office and full-time staff.

The society's continual growth in membership has made it the voice of the archaeological community in Ontario.