Archaeology

Discover Heritage Areas


Where can you see and learn from archaeological resources? Listed below are some of the many Parks Canada heritage areas in Canada where you can find out more about archaeological resources in person or online.



Replica of wooden fence from Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada (N.L.)
Replica of wooden fence from Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada (N.L.)
© Parks Canada / MacKenzie, S. / H.01.11.01.26(07), / 1980

Discover the sod buildings of the Vikings at L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada in Newfoundland. Reproductions have been built some distance away from the original site in order to preserve the integrity of the authentic structures. Archaeological data indicate that this is the oldest known European colony in the New World. Traces of occupation by Aboriginal inhabitants going back 6000 years are also found on this site.

More on archaeology at L'Anse aux Meadows


Howse Pass National Historic Site of Canada in Banff National Park of Canada (Alta) Howse Pass National Historic Site of Canada in Banff National Park of Canada (Alta)
© Parks Canada / Langemann, G / 9002R-7E / 2005

For 10 000 years, the valleys, passes and high alpine areas of Alberta’s Banff National Park of Canada have been occupied by people. These people had a profound knowledge of the resources of the land and hunted and lived there, leaving many sites and objects behind. Over 700 archaeological sites (both pre-contact and historic) have been recorded. These sites contain artifacts, evidence of the presence of Aboriginal campsites, butchering sites, quarries, mining towns and historical dumps.

More on archaeology in Banff


Maquette of the frigate The Machault at the Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site of Canada (Que.) Maquette of the frigate The Machault at the Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site of Canada (Que.)
© Parks Canada / MacKenzie, S. / H.01.11.01.26(07),/ 1980

The Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site of Canada is located at the far end of Chaleur Bay, Quebec. It is the site of the last naval battle between France and England over possession of the North American continent. Vestiges of the frigate The Machault are on display at the site’s interpretation centre. At this National Historic Site, you will discover a splendid collection of archaeological objects retrieved from the wreck and will relive one of the little-known events of the Seven Years' War in North America.

More on archaeology at Restigouche


Milk Can from the Gold Rush at Sheep Camp at Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada (B.C.) Milk can from the Gold Rush at Sheep Camp at Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada (B.C.)
© Parks Canada / Lynch, W. / H.10.99.06.01(60) / 1995

The trade route at Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada in British Columbia and the Yukon was used by coastal Tlingit as a route to the interior. After the arrival of European and North American traders at the end of the 19th century, this trail began to be used extensively. The Chilkoot Trail became a legend during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896–1899. Though there were other routes available, the Chilkoot Trail was shorter and also the cheapest. It became known as the poor man’s route to the Klondike because a man could transport all his supplies without assistance. Tin cans, sleds, boats, bottles, boots, stoves and hundreds of other items litter the trail, bringing to life the story of the Klondike Gold Rush.


Blockhouse at Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site of Canada (Que.) Blockhouse at Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site of Canada (Que.)
© Parks Canada / Cattroll, F. / H.05.60.02.03(05) / 1983

Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site of Canada, approximately 40 kilometres southwest of Montréal, Quebec, is witness to a rich history several thousand years old. At first it was a seasonal portage for Aboriginal peoples and later a bypass for travellers from Great Britain and France. By the late 18th century, the English had constructed a canal with locks, the first work of its kind in North America and direct forerunner of the modern-day St. Lawrence Seaway. The visitor centre at the historic site contains an exhibit highlighting some of the objects discovered during the archaeological excavations of the site.

More on archaeology at Coteau du Lac


Restored fort walls at Fort Beauséjour National Historic Site of Canada (N.B.) Restored fort walls at Fort Beauséjour National Historic Site of Canada (N.B.)
© Parks Canada / Grant, T. / H.04.41.02.06(24) / 1977

At Fort Beauséjour National Historic Site of Canada in New Brunswick, you are taken back to an era when England and France were rivals for the control of Acadia and learn about the origins and fate of the inhabitants of that region. Fort Beauséjour, constructed in the form of a star, was built by the French in the 1750s when the French and English were fighting each another for control of Acadia. You can see the archaeological remains of the fort as well as a visitor's centre with exhibits.


Fort Chambly National Historic Site of Canada (Que.)
Fort Chambly National Historic Site of Canada (Que.)
© Parks Canada / Pratt, B. / H.05.56.06.15(12)/ 1990

Fort Chambly National Historic Site of Canada in Quebec is an imposing stone sentinel that protected New France from British attacks. Dating from the early 18th century, Fort Chambly attests to the history of the French in North America. Objects from archaeological excavations carried out in the 1970s can be found here.


More on archaeology at Fort Chambly


Ruins at Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site of Canada (Ont.)
Ruins at Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site of Canada (Ont.)
© Parks Canada / Vandervlugt, G. / H.06.70.06.19(13) / 2001

Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site of Canada in Ontario symbolizes the commercial and military alliance that existed between the British and the First Nations peoples of the western Great Lakes region after the American Revolutionary War up until the War of 1812. In addition to the fort itself, the site contains a remarkable assembly of archaeological features that, in their unspoiled state, reveal in part the complex pattern of life for military personnel, families and traders — Aboriginal and European — who lived in this remote frontier outpost.

More on archaeology at Fort St. Joseph


North West Mounted police fort at Fort Walsh National Historic Site of Canada (Sask.) North West Mounted police fort at Fort Walsh National Historic Site of Canada (Sask.)

Fort Walsh National Historic Site of Canada in Saskatchewan was the headquarters of the North West Mounted Police from 1878 to 1882. The site commemorates the fort’s key role in imposing Canadian law, implementing Canada’s Indian policy, and overseeing the settlement of Sitting Bull’s Sioux band refugees after the Battle of Little Bighorn. But the site at Fort Walsh also has 7000 years of Aboriginal history. Teepee circles, storage pits for provisions and stone tools scattered around the site or exhibited in the visitor reception centre evoke winter encampments of earlier Aboriginal and Métis communities.


Military remains of fortifications at Fort Wellington National Historic Site of Canada (Ont.) Military remains of fortifications at Fort Wellington National Historic Site of Canada (Ont.)
© Parks Canada / Wyett, W. / H.06.60.02.06(12) / 1972

Fort Wellington National Historic Site of Canada is located in the old town of Prescott, Ontario. It was constructed to defend the border along the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812 and was occupied by British soldiers and Canadian militiamen until 1923. In 1925, the fort was designated a place of national historic importance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Archaeological excavations have been conducted at the fort and in 1990, excavations of the latrines unearthed several thousand objects that had belonged to members of the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment and their families.


Civilian establishments at The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada (N.S.)
Civilian establishments at The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada (N.S.)
© Parks Canada / Barrett & MacKay / H.03.30.01.04(53) / 1995

At the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada, in Nova Scotia, 20 percent of the fortified town could and has been re-created with great authenticity because of the large amount of data collected during the archaeological excavations. Go back to 1744! In the past, the Fortress of Louisbourg was one of the most important ports in North America and one of the military and commercial centres of France in the New World. The themes interpreted there are well worth any detour.


Statue of Evangeline  at Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada  (N.S.)
Statue of Evangeline at Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada (N.S.)
© Parks Canada / Reardon, C. / H.03.36.04.04(11) / 2003

Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada in Nova Scotia commemorates the Grand-Pré area as a centre of Acadian settlement from 1682 to 1755. It also marks the Deportation of the Acadians that began in 1755 and continued until 1762. Archaeologists have discovered ruins of buildings and other objects on this site. Additional information can be found at http://www.grand-pre.com/GrandPreSiteDevelopment/en/TheStory.html


Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site of Canada (B.C.) Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site f Canada (B.C.)
© Parks Canada / Butterill, J. / H.10.106.01.31(11) / 1993

Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site of Canada in British Columbia commemorates the history of Canada’s West Coast fishing industry from the 1870s to the present time. The collection of archaeological objects is composed of approximately 10 000 items, including canning machinery.

More on archaeology at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery


Model of Fort built by the Gitwangak Fort National Historic Site of Canada (B.C.) Model of Fort built by the Gitwangak Fort National Historic Site of Canada (B.C.)
© Parks Canada / H.10.101.06.12(02) / 1982

The Gitwangak Battle Hill Fort National Historic Site of Canada in British Columbia is the first major Aboriginal site in the West to be commemorated by Parks Canada. It is located near a trade route that Aboriginal peoples used between the Nass and Skeena rivers. The Gitwangak Battle Hill is a vibrant expression of the culture and history of the Tsimshian people. The site is formed of a defensive knoll, or Ta'awdzep, on top of which are archaeological remains of fortified residences that were occupied during the historical period. Descriptive panels along the self-guided path tell the history of the site and provide information about the culture of the Tsimshian people.


Southwest Bastion at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site of Canada (Man.) Southwest Bastion at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site of Canada (Man.)
© Parks Canada / Kopelow, G. / H.07.70.02.12(13) / 2003

Treaty #1 between the British Crown and the Ojibway and Swampy Cree of Manitoba was signed at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site of Canada. Lower Fort Garry was also an important agricultural and industrial supply centre for the fur trade in Western Canada. Visit the buildings and grounds of the fort and go back in time. Years of historical and archaeological research allowed the restoration of the Governor's residence, guest lodge, blacksmith's shop, bakery and all the other buildings of the fort. Today, the fort looks and functions as it did in the 1850s.


Coastline where the Dorset Paleoeskimos lived at Port au Choix National Historic Site of Canada (N.L.) Coastline where the Dorset Paleoeskimos lived at Port au Choix National Historic Site of Canada (N.L.)

Port au Choix National Historic Site of Canada, on the west side of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula, has been the subject of many archaeological excavations. Researchers at the Port au Choix have found remains of four ancient cultures (Maritime Archaic Indian, Dorset and Groswater Paleoeskimo, and recent Indians) and have shown that human activity at this site dates back thousands of years.

More on archaeology at Port aux Choix


Earthworks of former British and French forts at Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada (P.E.I.) Earthworks of former British and French forts at Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada (P.E.I.)
© Parks Canada / Cattroll, F. / H.02.20.01.10(12) / 1983

Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada commemorates the first permanent European colony in Prince Edward Island. You can still see the grassy remains of the fort, and the exhibits on site explain its special history.


Centuries-old whale skeleton on Saddle Island at Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada Centuries Old Whale Skeleton on Saddle Islandat Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada
© Parks Canada / McQuarrie, J. / H.01.15.10.10(05) / 2003

If you go to Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada in Labrador, you will discover how more than 25 years of archaeological research has revealed some 20 whaling stations around the harbour of Red Bay that were established by 16th-century fishermen from the Basque country. Marine archaeological excavations resulted in the discovery of three galleons and several small Basque crafts that are remarkably well-preserved examples of 16th-century shipbuilding techniques.

More on archaeology at Red Bay


Reconstructed chimneys at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site of Canada (Alta) Reconstructed chimneys at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site of Canada (Alta)
© Parks Canada / Dahlin, K. / H.09.90.06.03(11) / 2002

At Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site of Canada, Alberta, the visitor reception centre has an educational exhibit area devoted to the fur trade, the exploration of the West and the Aboriginal peoples. From the time the first two fur-trading posts were opened in 1799 until the last post was abandoned in 1875, hundreds of people passed through the different Rocky Mountain  House trading posts. You can walk the short distance to the place where the forts were built during the periods 1835–1861 and 1864–1875; the reconstructed chimneys are in the last fort. A longer walk leads to the place where the first two forts of Rocky Mountain House were built in 1799.


Thule Dwelling at Tuktut Nogait National Park of Canada (N.W.T.)
Thule Dwelling at Tuktut Nogait National Park of Canada (N.W.T.)
© Parks Canada / Savauge S. / 2003

Tuktut Nogait National Park of Canada in the Northwest Territories contains archaeological sites showing evidence of human occupation since AD 1000. The oldest known archaeological sites in the park are most likely Thule or Copper Inuit from the period AD 1200 to 1500. More recent sites are Inuvialuit and possibly early trappers and traders.

More on archaeology at Tuktut Nogait


Hudson's Bay Company fur trading post at York Factory National Historic Site of Canada (Man.) Hudson's Bay Company fur- trading post at York Factory National Historic Site of Canada (Man.)
© Parks Canada / Mercier, F. / H.07.73.09.01(02) / 1990

Strategically located on the Hayes River near Hudson Bay, Manitoba, York Factory National Historic Site of Canada wasan important fur-trading post and warehouse in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Although today the site consists only of two buildings, a cemetery and some other visible ruins, the extreme isolation of the site reinforces the value of the historical interrelationships between individual elements on the site.

More on archaeology at York Factory