We acknowledge that we live and work on unceded Indigenous territories and we thank the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations for their hospitality.

CURRENT FINDINGS IN BC: Low Stakes, High Drama

CURRENT FINDINGS IN BC: Low Stakes, High Drama

February 12, 2016

In late June 2013 Graeme Wynn and I had the pleasure of leading an international group of students participating in the Canadian History and Environment Summer School (CHESS), sponsored by NiCHE (Network in Canadian History & Environment / Nouvelle initiative canadienne en histoire de l’environnement) to Vancouver Island. Among the many memorable sites we visited was Comox Harbour, at the northwest end of the Strait of Georgia, where we were fortunate to be given a tour by Nancy Greene and David McGee, shown above at right with BC Studies editor Graeme Wynn at left.

They took us out on the windy flats at low tide. There we found hundreds of small neon-coloured flags that Nancy and David had earlier placed in the sand. As we stood enthralled, our guides drew us into a giant game of “connect the dots,” to show that the flags, placed each and every one at or atop a barely visible vertical wooden stake, formed large fish traps built centuries ago by local First Nations. Nancy and David gave these poetic names: “Winged Heart” and “Winged Chevron.” Somehow, some 13,602 stakes that once supported and surrounded the fish traps survived unremarked during 150 years of settlement and industrial activity in this large tidal estuary. They were first noticed by Nancy in 2002.

We are delighted that Nancy and David, along with Roderick Heitzmann, have now published their stunning research in the latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Archaeology, as “The Comox Harbour Fish Trap Complex: A Large-Scale, Technologically Sophisticated Intertidal Fishery from British Columbia.” The stakes, which have been radiocarbon dated to between 100 and 1300 years in age, indicate “a large-scale, technologically sophisticated Aboriginal trap fishery.” They (literally) raise the stakes when it comes to understanding the scale and sophistication of the indigenous presence in British Columbia.

– Richard Mackie
BC Studies Associate Editor

An abstract of the article is available here:
The full article is available on academia.edu
It is also the subject of a story in the Vancouver Sun by Stephen Hume:
Here is a 2013 blog post by Sean Kheraj: