A site that dates back thousands of years
Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site
Following the footprints of the First Inhabitants
Laurentian Archaic, from 10 000 to 5000 B.C.E.
A Seasonal Camp for Nomads
During the spawning season of certain fish species, small groups travelling in dugout canoes settled in Coteau-du-Lac for a few weeks at a time. Pitched here and there across the Point, the cone-shaped tents housed about ten people each.
Men caught fish with harpoons, fishgigs, and trotlines. They also went up the Delisle River to hunt game. Women and children smoked the catch on fireplaces installed outside their tents.
Woodland Period, 1000 B.C.E. to 1500 C.E.
A Point of Passage for the Indigenous
Between the end of the Archaic era, about 3000 years ago, and the arrival of Europeans, in the early 16th century, there was a 2500-year period which experts call the Woodland Period. A forced point of transit due to the presence of rapids, Coteau-du-Lac was still frequently visited for fishing. However, families and hunters who stopped there never stayed more than a few days.
The few ceramic shards found on the site may be linked to the Point Peninsula Complex (Middle Woodland Period) and to the Laurentian Iroquoian culture (Late Woodland Period). Their presence supports the interpretation that Coteau-du-Lac was a point of transit between the Niagara region and the St. Lawrence valley.
Did you know that during an archaeological dig performed at the site in 1969, a pebble bearing a depiction of a face was found in a tomb dating from 3000 years ago? This object was exceptional in more than one way. It was an object of symbolic function whereas many objects left in that tomb were of utilitarian nature. Since the sculpted face was intentionally placed facing down, archaeologists believed it was a particular mark of respect towards the deceased.
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