“The remains of weapons used by prehistoric man about 10,000 years ago have been discovered in a part of British Columbia’s Peace River country that may be flooded by B.C. Hydro power projects.
“It was a most exciting find,” said Knut Fladmark, archeology professor at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Fladmark said he fears Hydro may not be too thrilled with the news of his discoveries because they warrant further long and detailed archeological studies of areas where power projects are being considered.
The professor led a university team of 10 members through the Peace River country for about 10 weeks this summer, financed by a $20,000 grant from Hydro. The team had two separate assignments. The first was to study the area that will be covered by a reservoir when Hydro’s Site One project, 14 miles downstream from the Peace River W.A.C. Bennett Dam is completed. Preliminary work on this development has already started. The other assignment was to study the lower Peace, which would be affected by Hydro’s proposed Site E and Site C projects. Both projects include dams and reservoirs and are under study by Hydro. [Note: As of 1998 neither has been built and BC Hydro has no immediate plans to complete the projects. Local concerns about the future of the river continue]
Site E is on the Peace, one mile upstream from the Alberta border and Site C is 43 miles upstream from Site E.
“Even if dams are proposed and accepted for Sites E and C it would probably be five to 10 years before there are any changes in the land there. So hopefully that would give us enough time to find out what is there before the land goes under water”.
In addition to his discoveries of prehistoric weapons, Professor Fladmark and his team spent some time searching for the site of the first fur-trading post on the B.C. mainland. The Northwest Co. post, called Old Rocky Mountain House, was occupied from 1798 to 1806 [near the mouth of the Moberly River].
Prof. Fladmark said he hopes that with further study of pertinent documents during the winter the site of the first fort may be pinned down. The team did discover a Fort at the mouth of the Beatton River that was occupied from 1806 to 1810. Prof. Fladmark said he had no time to do any digging at the site but noted that it had been completely undisturbed since the people left.
The significance of these studies: commentary by Dorthea Calverley
If Clovis or Sandia points are found in these sites, it is evidence that Indians moved through this area, or even lived here 10,000 – 20,000 years ago (at least before the last great glacier), and that the ones we know about are merely “new-comers”. Considering the age of the extinct animals, it gives some corroboration to their belief that “we were always here”.
In the Site One area Dr. Fladmark and his team found little of archeological interest. “It is historically recorded that Indians went through there but they were very mobile and didn’t leave anything behind them,” said the professor.
In Sites E and C however the team found more than 250 sites showing evidence of human activity. “The time span covered by the things we found was about 10,000 years because they included settlers’ cabins and Clovis points.”
The artifacts known as Clovis points – or projectile points – were the prehistoric find that most excited Dr. Fladmark. The points, which resemble arrowheads, were attached to the end of dart-like spears. They were used long before the bow and arrow and could bring down enormous animals such as mastodons, mammoths and bison.
The professor said discovery of projectile points is further evidence of the existence of an ice-free corridor along the eastern flanks of the Rockies down which early man migrated from Alaska and the Yukon to the central parts of the continent.
“There is a great archeological argument about this corridor – its extent and when it was open,” he said. Fladmark said the significance of his team’s findings this summer is so great that he will recommend to Hydro that further research work be done in this area.