kitjigattalik - Ramah Chert Quarries National Historic Site of Canada

Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador
Detail of a Ramah chert fragment © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada, Malve Petersmann.Detail of a Ramah chert fragment © Parks Canada Agency | Parks Canada Agency, Malve Petersmann.General view of a part of Kitjigattalik - Ramah Chert Quarries © Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada, Heiko Wittenborn.
Address : Torngat Mountains National Park of Canada, Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 2014-11-21

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Inuits  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Kitjigattalik - Ramah Chert Quarries  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 2013-15

Commemorative Intent

kitjigattalik – Ramah Chert Quarries was designated a national historic site because:
it was actively quarried from 5,000 to 600 years ago for Ramah chert, a visually distinctive and important stone type used by several ancient cultures of the northeast in the manufacture of tools and other objects of material culture. Ramah chert was the most widely traded toolstone known in the Canadian Northeast and was the basis of long-distance exchange networks that extended throughout easternmost Canada and into New England; first discovered by the earliest Archaic settlers of northern Labrador, Ramah chert was the only toolstone of choice at certain periods despite the remote location of the quarries, northern Labrador’s forbidding northern coastline, and the availability of a range of other high-quality local stone types. At certain periods it appears to have been linked to cultural identity. This was the case during the late Archaic period in northern Labrador, the late Dorset period in northern Labrador, and throughout the Late Precontact period for Amerindian groups living along the length of the Labrador coast; Ramah chert is notably linked to early belief systems and burial practices. Ramah chert objects are found in Archaic burial complexes extending from northern Labrador to New England. It is quite likely that the quarries themselves were similarly symbolically imbued.

Source: HSMBC, Minutes, December 2013.