From Time Immemorial:
View of Prince Rupert harbour.
This virtual exhibition presents findings of the North Coast
Prehistory Project, carried out by the Museum to uncover
archaeological information and tie it in with research done earlier
by Harlan Smith, Marius Barbeau and William Beynon. Tsimshian
prehistory is presented in a setting that includes an archaeological
dig (reconstructed from a site near Prince Rupert harbour), an
environment of forest and petroglyphs, and a display area rich in
artifacts from the Tsimshian peoples of the north coast of British
Harlan I. Smith conducted the first archaeological tests in the
Prince Rupert area in 1910. Later, in 1915, Marius Barbeau, along
with William Beynon, a Native scholar, began an ethnological
research project, examining Tsimshian family histories and myths.
Beynon continued his research up to 1957, and Barbeau until his
death in 1967.
This house post figure is called "Whole-Being". He
holds a fish club under his chin. Atop his head the large circular log
once supported the roof structure.
Between 1966 and 1973, several of the roughly one hundred sites in the
immediate area of Prince Rupert harbour were excavated under the leadership
of Dr. George MacDonald.
The primary aim behind the reconstruction of an actual excavation
at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, was to
demonstrate some of the methods and strategies used in field archaeology.
To provide a detailed picture of a prehistoric culture, the
archaeologist must be able to interpret what he has found at the dig.
This process of interpretation involves much more than merely
examining what has been dug from the ground. The archaeologist
reconstructs ancient cultures by interpreting what he has excavated
in terms of what is known about living peoples.
Native oral history, artifacts, historical photos, and the
archaeological excavation are woven together to tell the story of
the Tsimshian people who have occupied Canada's north Pacific
Coast for over 5,000 years.