Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

Archaeology in north delta

Recent coverage - October 1, 2010 - The Province - Brian Lewis writes about visiting the Glenrose site with Professor RG Matson.

Global TV also covered the issue on Sept 30, 10

The Glenrose cannery site has had 10,000 years of human occupation and is an internationally renowned wet site. It is well documented in RG Matson’s book, The Glenrose Cannery Site and is featured at the Royal BC Museum with an extensive display and collections as well as at the Museum of Anthropology at U.B.C. who are the stewards of the site. Dg Rr-006 as it is known in the scientific community, has been showcased at a national festival in Edinborough, Scotland and a world exposition in Paris, France, both of which highlighted the Glenrose site as “an example of B.C. native history of world calibre”. Collections from our Provincial museum had people lined up around the block waiting to see the native history of British Columbia, of which the Glenrose site was a large part.

In 1981, Colin Hanson pressed the Government of the day to protect “The last remaining archaeology sites in the Fraser Valley; The Glenrose site, the St. Mungo site and the Spetifore lands. The Spetifore lands are now covered with condominiums, and the last two sites “of great local heritage value and international heritage value…” are still unprotected. The St. Mungo site was deemed important enough to force the footing for the Alex Fraser Bridge to be moved at a significant cost. We believe that since the Glenrose site is the more important of the two in terms of a world heritage scale, that it should force the movement of the SFPR.

Excavations were carried out at the Glenrose Cannery Site during 1973 and 1974.The site consists of three components: the Old Cordilleran (8150 - 5700 B.P.); the St. Mungo era (4300 - 3300 B.P.); and the Marpole (2300 - ca. 2000 B.P.).

Well preserved faunal material found throughout most of the site provides a good picture of the prehistoric subsistence patterns. Five thousand years of continuous deposition shows a slowly increasing adaptation to riverine and foreshore resources. Analysis of the mammalian fauna showed stability throughout the midden. Fish remains also showed stability with salmon dominant throughout, while avian material was concentrated in the upper two components. Summer indicators were found in the lower portions, and herring, a winter indicator, was found only in the Marpole Component. Shellfish remains occurred primarily in the upper two components, and appear to have had dietary significance equal to all mammals combined.

It was concluded that the Old Cordilleran Component was occupied during the summer, and was dominated by land mammal hunting. The St. Mungo Component was occupied at various seasons, but was dominated by riverine and foreshore resources. Occupation in the Marpole Component was during the winter, and the same resources were found as in the St. Mungo Component. These findings indicate how early man developed from a hunter gatherer with a nomadic lifestyle and little or no difference in family or community status…to a society that learned advanced tool making, storage and preservation of foods, and  community minded living in more permanent villages.

The reason archaeological sites greater than 10,000 yrs.B.P. are not found, is because the ocean levels were much lower then. After the melting of the last ice age the oceans rose to their current levels and covered any previous shore sites, making the Glenrose site one of the oldest available sites in the world.

In British Columbia, we utilize and promote native symbols, design, art and history, and we are happy to bundle them up and send them off around the world to showcase what the great academics and professors of the world say is unrivalled.  Yet, here at home, we don’t protect them.  If the Glenrose site is not protected, in the future they will look back and say what fools we were!

There are many questions that need to be addressed in regards to the current SFPR plans.

o       Do the plans call for bridging over the cannery site or fill in? Site capping is acceptable only when it can be shown that deposits are not comprised by compaction, accelerated decomposition, horizontal displacement, or possible deleterious changes in soil chemistry. Has this been addressed?

o       What price are we putting on our internationally acclaimed heritage?

o       A recent report states “some form of archaeological mitigation will be required” for both the St. Mungo Site and the Glenrose Cannery Site.  What form of mitigation will take place?

o       Has the Heritage Advisory Association ‘advised council on the development issue relating to the history, heritage, conservation, and preservation’ of this extremely important example of an internationally renowned archaeological site?

The residents of Delta want our archaeological history protected for future scientific and educational reasons and we look forward to working with you in pressing the Provincial Government for protection of this internationally important site.

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PDF Version of this report

Vancouver Sun - April 24, 2008 - Highway would cut key archaeological Sites