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
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.