Brockinton National Historic Site of Canada

Melita, Manitoba
General location of Brockinton in southwestern Manitoba (© Upper image: Atlas of Canada, Topographical Maps)
General location
(© Upper image: Atlas of Canada, Topographical Maps)
Address : Melita, Manitoba

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1973-11-15

Other Name(s):
  • Brockinton  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1973-017, 2006-CED-SDC-038, 2011-CED-SDC-006

Description of Historic Place

Brockinton National Historic Site of Canada is a stratified archaeological site located on the east bank of the Souris River, near Melita, Manitoba. Located on a steep slope between the flood plain and the prairie the site consists of a thin crescent-shaped strip of low-lying land that has yielded evidence of three distinct periods of occupation, dating from 800 to 1650 A.D. The landward side of the site is wooded. The site includes remains of a bison drive, remains from the Duck Bay cultural tradition, and also traces of occupation from an unidentified Plains people. It is bounded on the west by the low-water mark of the river and by a 30-metre perimeter to the north, south and east.

Heritage Value

Brockinton was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1973 because: it provides excellent examples of three successive habitations by Plains, Woodland and again Plains peoples between 800 and 1650 A.D., demonstrating the dynamic cultural changes that occurred in this region before contact with Europeans; the lowest level of the site was used as a bison pound and processing camp by an unknown Plains group; the middle level was used by a Woodland group who migrated west onto the plains, adopting bison hunting; and, the upper level features a distinctive mixture of Plains ceramic styles indicating that the people who lived here had extensive interaction with Missouri river peoples to the south.

Brockinton is a multi-component archaeological site that includes three main layers of occupation dating to the Late Pre-Contact Period from 800 to 1650 A.D. The oldest level, dating from c.800 A.D., contains the remains of an abandoned bison drive. This level contains an astonishing number of bones and tools, including a large quantity of small Prairie side-notched arrowheads. The second layer, dating from 1100 to 1300 A.D., was home to the Duck Bay culture, a regional variant of the Blackduck complex found in northern Ontario. This tradition is not usually found on the plains, but rather has a widespread distribution in the wooded portion of south-eastern Manitoba and the adjacent regions of Minnesota. The uppermost level, dating from c.1650 A.D., contains evidence of an unidentified Plains people from the Dakotas. This appears to be the only occurrence of these peoples in Canada, who are represented by a uniquely decorated, rich and varied ceramic assemblage.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include: - its location on the east bank of the Souris River, six kilometres southwest of Melita, Manitoba; - its siting on a thin strip of low-lying land between the east bank of the Souris River and the steep incline to the prairie above and to the east, and with its western boundary defined by the low watermark point of the river; - any archaeological remains relating to the bison drive, including bones, tools, butchering implements and the large deposit of small Prairie side-notched arrowheads; - any archaeological remains relating to the Duck Bay cultural tradition, including arrow heads and bones; - any archaeological remains relating to the occupation of the unidentified Plains people, including pottery and ceramic artifacts; - the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent; - the retention of all knowledge associated with all First Nations artefacts associated with the site; - the relationship between the site and the neighbouring Linear Mounds National Historic Site of Canada; - the viewscapes overlooking Souris River.