Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Seasons

Information concerning Quadra Island's history is limited due to the fact there has only been one comprehensive archaeological dig on the Island as well as the partial skeleton found at the Cape Mudge Village. The skeletal remains were found when a waterline was installed in 1986 and were of an adult male. Carbon dating places the age of the remains at two thousand years old.

In 1966, Donald Mitchell led an excavation at Rebecca Spit. It was on a rise at the first treeless opening and gave a small view into what life was like for the last people who lived there int he seventeenth century.  It was a place of shelter during war times. There were three or four small houses protected by a trench - 1.3 metres or 4 feet deep - and a partial palisade.

The dig also gave the explorers a look at what the ancient people ate. Rockfish dominated the diet but they also ate salmon and dogfish along with mammals such as deer, harbour seal and raccoon. Stone tools such as spear points, ground slate knives and mortars were unearthed along with wedges, harpoon valves and awls made from bone and antler.  A large clamshell bowl was found and it still contained red ochre - powdered earth, which was combined with oily substances like salmon roe to create paint.

The people who left these tools behind lived within an economy and social structure that dates back eight thousand years or more. They had a deep understanding of the plants, animals and cycles of the coast and that is reflected in every aspect of their lives. 

As spring descended on the area, the large groups that congregated for the winter, divided into extended family groups. They fished for herring on northern Quadra Island and tended clam beds at Waiatt Bay. 

The first residents of this area harpooned seals off the Breton Islands and in late summer they prepared their fish weirs and traps on the streams at Quathiaski Cove, Hyacinthe Bay, Village Bay and Granite Bay. At Village Bay, with its chain of lakes, they harvested cedar trees to make canoes that were later floated down a creek to the ocean. 

In the late fall, after the harvest was complete, the canoes were tied together with housed planks between them to transport smoked salmon, dried berry and seaweed cakes, roots and clams to the winter villages. Winter was the time to mark deaths or other live events.

Thanks to the book, The Quadra Story, A History of Quadra Island by Jeanette Taylor for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill