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Lifelines: Canada's East Coast Fisheries

Cross Currents
500 Generations of Aboriginal Fishing 
in Atlantic Canada
Fishing on Rivers and Estuaries
Cross Currents: 
500 Generations of Aboriginal Fishing in Atlantic Canada


Aboriginal peoples depended year-round on the wide range of fish and marine resources found in coastal estuaries and their tributaries. Tidal effects were often felt far inland from the ocean along rivers and saltwater estuaries.

The place where this tidal effect ends is known as the "head-of-tide". For millennia, these spots have been preferred sites for fishing, camping and villages. Some saltwater fish species, such as the striped bass, spawn only as far up an estuary as the head-of-tide.

Protected shallow lagoons, commonly found at the entrances to tidal estuaries, provided aboriginal peoples with easy access to a bountiful supply of many species of saltwater and freshwater fish. Narrow estuary channels also permitted the construction of weirs made of woven branches.

Estuary fishing

Artistic interpretation of estuary fishing
Illustration: Steve Broomer, 1983
(Commissioned by the Canadian Museum of Civilization)



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