Great Canadian Parks / British Columbia

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The Parks / British Columbia / Gwaii Haanas National Park



 

According to the oral tradition, Haida have lived here since the land was all grass and through the times of great flood. Archaeological research is now providing the evidence that substantiates that claim.

 

Excavations along the shoreline revealed habitation dating back 2000-3000 years, but recently sites much higher up the mountains indicate these areas were used as long as 9,200 years ago. The reason for the different locations became clear. The shoreline had, in fact, been much higher during that time. Core samples taken from the ocean floor beneath Hecate Strait, piece together a picture of the shape and climate of the Queen Charlotte Islands more than 12 000 years ago when at least half of the strait was a dry plain of grass and shrubs. The core samples contain pollen and seeds of land species. A great deal of water was locked in the glacial field that covered half of North America and sea levels were at least 100 metres below present levels. You might have been able to walk to the Queen Charlottes from the mainland. The intense weight of the glaciers depressed the mainland areas which caused the edge of the plate to tilt up, raising the islands even further. As the glaciers melted, an enormous amount of water flowed into the ocean, and the weight on the continent decreased. Between 9,000 and 3,000 years ago, the continental plate went from bowl shaped to flat, raising the sea levels around Gwaii Haanas to at least 15 metres above present levels.

 

Unfortunately, village sites older than 10,000 years are likely submerged by as much as 140 metres in Hecate Strait. Scientists have found they have much to learn from the Haida history of two great floods.

 

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