It turns out Canada’s very first farmers definitely weren’t the people historians thought they were.
A team of archaeologists working on the banks of the Red River have uncovered what is believed to be the earliest farm in the country, dating all the way back to 1200 A.D. This discovery’s significant because it revealed that an Indigenous tribe, long believed to be nomadic, actually settled in an area loaded with fertile land. A five-week dig has already yielded artifacts such as pottery, bone and tools.
“[The site] roughly dates to the time of the Vikings,” said University of Manitoba archaeology professor Robert Beardsell.
This time is often referred to as the “medieval warming period,” as global temperatures were on the rise. This meant that tribes who would traditionally follow bison herds to survive instead settled down and started growing crops. The site in Lockport could be the earliest example we have of this settlement process.
“[The settlers] were certainly involved with corn and beans — probably squash and probably sunflowers as well,” said Leigh Syms, a former curator at the Manitoba Museum.
These discoveries are still brand new, so more work is needed to understand their full significance. The artifacts collected so far will be sent to labs across Canada and the U.S. for further testing.
It’s certainly a good thing they were found though, because land around the Red River is quickly eroding.
You can learn more about Canada’s earliest farm in the video above.