Stratified Faunas from Charlie Lake Cave and the Peopling of the Western Interior of Canada

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Driver, John C. Stratified Faunas from Charlie Lake Cave and the Peopling of the Western Interior of Canada. In Zooarchaeology of the Pleistocene/Holocene Boundary edited by J.C. Driver, pp.77-83. British Archeological Reports International Series 800, Oxford. 1999.

Date created: 
Charlie Lake Cave
Post-glacial activity
Pleistocene-Holocene transition
Western Canada

Article Summary by Jonathan C. Driver, May 2015


            This article discusses the correlations between environmental change and human activity and the significance of Tse’K’wa to such research. In 1995 I attended an international conference in Berlin that looked at the archaeology of the transition period from the last ice age (the Pleistocene) to the modern period (the Holocene).  I gave a paper summarizing  archaeological data from western Canada for the period 11,000 BC to 9000 BC. At that conference it was suggested that we needed to have a second meeting that looked at changes in environment and hunting during this period of global environmental change. I therefore volunteered to organize a set of presentations within a conference on animal bone archaeology (zooarchaeology) that was held in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1998.

            The paper that I presented included a discussion about when habitats would have been suitable for human habitation after deglaciation, but in view of the small number of sites and the differing intensities of archaeological fieldwork I did not feel confident in suggesting  (as I now believe) that colonization of the interior of western Canada took place from south to north.

            The rest of the paper focused on Tse’K’wa because it was (and is still) the only archaeological site in the interior of western Canada where evidence for environmental change can be correlated with evidence for human activities. The animal bone data from Tse’K’wa clearly show a rapidly changing environment as the ice was ending and new habitats were being established. Building on the results of the 1983 excavations, adding data from the 1990 and 1991 excavations allowed a more detailed picture of the changing environments. For example, one diagram in the paper shows how quickly the local small mammals change from ground squirrels to snowshoe hare. It was also apparent that animals that live in or near water became more prevalent  once the forested environments were established.


This item is part of the Tse'K'Wa (Charlie Lake Cave) Collection in Summit, the SFU Research Repository. We kindly thank the publisher, Archaeopress, for permission to reproduce this work in Summit. Copyright resides with John C. Driver.

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Copyright belongs to the author, John C. Driver.
British Columbia
Charlie Lake Cave