13,000-Year-Old Clovis Artifacts Unearthed in B.C.

13,000-Year-Old Clovis Artifacts Unearthed in B.C.

Collaboration with First Nations vital in discovery
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Clovis Point artifact: Found at Lily Lake, B.C.

Unearthing history: Searching for artifacts at the Lily Lake, B.C. site.

Monday, March 21, 2016 - 7:00am

CAMPAIGN: TransCanada Natural Gas Pipelines


Collaboration with First Nations vital in discovery

A rare find of prehistoric artifacts in remote backcountry B.C. has been unearthed through cooperative efforts between First Nations communities and TransCanada.

The artifacts might not have been unearthed without the pre-scouting work associated with the North Montney project

A Saulteau First Nations’ resident uncovered the base of a Clovis Point used to hunt mammoths and other big game over 13,000 years ago near Lily Lake, B.C., while helping to conduct an archeological survey for TransCanada’s North Montney Pipeline.

“Everyone was shocked and there was lots of excitement,” said John Wozniak, an archaeologist with CH2M Hill consulting firm and the survey supervisor when the artifact was discovered.

“Clovis artifacts are very rare, but easily distinguishable so we knew immediately the significance of what we had.

“The rare find suggested that people were using the Lily Lake area as early as 13,500 years ago.”

The excitement didn’t end there. After additional shoveling and excavations, the team discovered another 236 prehistoric stone artifacts.

B.C. First Nations involved in site preservation and research

Subsequently, the Saulteau, West Moberly, Doig River, Prophet River, Blueberry River and Halfway River First Nations communities are now working with the B.C. Archaeology Branch, environmental consultants and TransCanada to study and protect the site.

Considered by many pre-historians to be the earliest culture in North America, the Clovis people are best known for a distinctive spear point used in hunting big game — referred to as a Clovis Point.

On its website, the B.C. Archaeology Branch says reporting discoveries such as these “can make a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of our province and prevent the destruction of important cultural resources.”

Protecting important cultural resources

“The greatest benefit of this dig was the opportunity to work closely with local First Nations and to come to a mutual agreement on how to protect important cultural resources,” said Nancy Porter, TransCanada’s Senior Environmental Planner.

The find was so remote, Wozniak noted, that the artifacts would have probably never been unearthed without the pre-scouting work associated with the North Montney project.

As part of the TransCanada’s standard approach to building pipelines across North America, scientists and trained field technicians conduct archaeological studies and environmental field studies programs that focus on fisheries and aquatics, wildlife, soil, vegetation, wetlands, geology and hydrology.

Learn more about TransCanada's relationship with Indigenous peoples.