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Lifelines: Canada's East Coast Fisheries

Cross Currents
500 Generations of Aboriginal Fishing 
in Atlantic Canada
10,000 Years Ago: An Ancient Landscape
Cross Currents: 
500 Generations of Aboriginal Fishing in Atlantic Canada


By 10,000 years ago, most of the glacial ice had melted from Atlantic Canada. The northern tip of Newfoundland and all of Anticosti Island were under water. The offshore banks of early Atlantic Canada formed coastal lowlands, fronted by sandy barrier beaches and lagoons. It is even possible that people inhabited the area.

During this period, the present-day Magdalene Islands were surrounded by a large expanse of dry land, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel. Prince Edward Island was attached to the mainland at this time, forming part of an ancient landscape called "Northumbria". These lowlands were once abundant in fauna and flora, and were also home to people. As sea levels rose, lowland areas began to disappear, and by about 5,000 years ago they were completely submerged.

Jones Site - 
Photograph: David Keenlyside

Jones Site, St. Peter's Bay, Prince Edward Island
Excavations at the Jones archaeological site, on the northeastern coast of Prince Edward Island, have produced evidence of over 10,000 years of human habitation at this strategic fishing location.
(Photo: David Keenlyside,
Canadian Museum of Civilization)




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