The first inhabitants of a largely glacier-covered North America were hunters. They hunted big game animals like the giant sloth and the mammoth, both of which were much larger than any land mammal of the 20th century.
Canadian Pre-history: The people and their cultures
The weapons hunters used were wooden lances with sharp stone heads, made by painstakingly chipping pieces from flint rock.
Historians studying the prehistoric era speculate that hunters made their attacks at very close range, probably when the animal was mired in a bog.
The Big Game Hunting Culture flourished in Canada’s plains and eastern woodlands until about 8000 B.C. In Canada’s far West there developed a similar ancient hunting and fishing culture known as Old Cordilleran.
When the glaciers began to melt, the gradually warming climate changed the face of the land and dramatically affected the wildlife.
The mammoth soon became extinct. In the forests surrounding the lakes left by retreating glaciers, the people hunted deer, bear, elk and smaller game.
The culture that originated in this moist, forested region has come to be known as Boreal Archaic.
Lasting until about 6000 B.C., it was marked by the use of various wood-working tools, including axes, gouges and adzes (an axe with an inward-turning blade).
With these, the Boreal Archaic peoples were able to make dugout canoes.
By 1000 B.C., the Early Woodland Culture had developed in eastern North America.
During this period, the population became more stable and individual cultures began to crystallize.
New features such as pottery and ceremonial burials were gradually incorporated into the cultures of prehistoric tribes in Canada.