Archaeological Sites in Bergeronnes

Archaeology in Bergeronnes

Over thirty archaeological sites have been listed in all Bergeronnes. Among those sites, three are classified by the Ministry of Culture. Historically, they testify of an important occupation from the First Nations in Quebec. As far as paleohistory to the period of contact with the Europeans, to the French regime and then English one, this territory is rich. Its archaeological potential has been known since the beginning of last century. The arrival of the first anthropologists has shone a bright light on those artefacts. Since the late 1960's, archaeology has become more and more important in Quebec and numerous excavations campaigns will take place in Bergeronnes.

Archaeological research has shown that from the prehistoric to the contemporary era, humans occupied Bergeronnes in a temporary or permanent way, using the territory's resources to develop social, economic or artistic activities.

The oldest site in the Upper North Coast is located in Cap-de-Bon-Désir, counting 8500 years.

Why stay here? Which resources were used and how? Archaeologists have asked the soil for over 40 years and have discovered many artefacts that brought our past to the light using diverse techniques.


Archaeological Field School in Grandes-Bergeronnes Activities 1984-85 (french only)

Excavation site "la falaise 1" (french only)

Excavation site "la falaise 2" (french only)

The three classified sites...

The Lavoie Site

In Bergeronnes, the Lavoie site tells a tale of an old occupation, about 5000 years before today. Thousands of lithic tools have been found, proving a history of seal hunting. From gathering the bones, the recollection says a hundred seals could have been slaughtered and butchered in one season only, possibly feeding a population of a hundred.

Knowing harp seals, grey seals, and harbour seals only go on the shore at the beginning of spring, all through the end of autumn, we can guess the First Nations were occupying the coast until winter pushed them back inland with its strong winds.

Among other things, they hunt belugas, birds like the common loon and gather clams in the coastal mudflat. Other animal remains identified on the site were beavers, bears, foxes, domestic dogs, etc.

Site La falaise

The Cliff site holds a trace of 2 occupations, one 2000 years ago and another only 200 years ago. One or more families of hunter-gatherers used to live there in spring or autumn.

The pottery fragment remains were covered with patterns known throughout North-Eastern America in this era. These potteries were exchanged and travelled from groups likely living in the south. It is possible to trace the clay’s origin with neutron activation analysis.

The sandy cliff is exposed to bad weather—the high tides, torrential rains and earthquakes all threaten the coastline’s configuration. Shores fall apart, roads are swept away, and landslides are frequent.

Site de l’Anse à la Cave

The Basque, Spanish and French fishermen beat Cartier over the St-Lawrence river. In the 16th century, over a dozen ships a year left Europe to hunt whales all over the world. It was from hunting right whales they reached the St-Lawrence golf and estuary.

Remains of their presence were frequent along the North Shore and Labrador. Still, they were predominant in the Strait of Belle Isle and at the mouth of the Saguenay river. Archaeologists found ruined hunting establishments in Cap de Bon Désir and on the isle across ( Ile aux Basques) from the late 16th century.

The “Anse-à-la-Cave” was a spectator to these whalers for many years. The remains found were well preserved, like an oven made to melt whale fat and the foundation of a house, perhaps a forge. Many artifacts were discovered: forged nails, lead bullets, gunflint fragments, knife and vase fragments.

LIEN UTILE : Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec

Most Ancient Site (8500 years before today)

8000 years ago, the North Shore hosted First Nations as glaciers still melted, only 300 kilometres away, just by reservoir Manicouagan. These nomadic populations roamed this territory according to the seasons, going from the coast of the St-Lawrence River to inland territories, borrowing the rivers as natural pathways. With carbon-14 dating, carbonized seal bones were, on average, 8113 years old.

Il y a 8000 ans, des peuples amérindiens habitent déjà la région de la Haute-Côte-Nord. Et pourtant, à tout juste 300 kilomètres plus au nord, aux limites du réservoir Manicouagan, les grands glaciers poursuivent toujours leur lent retrait. Les populations nomades occupent alors ce territoire, se déplaçant au gré des saisons entre la rive du Saint-Laurent et l’intérieur des terres. Ils utilisent les voies naturelles que sont les grandes rivières et parcourent ainsi les forêts, pour y chasser le gibier comme le castor, l’ours et l’orignal, et le littoral où viennent s’accoupler les phoques gris au printemps.

The most ancient traces of native occupation on the Upper North Coast have been found on the Cap-de-Bon-Désir plateau. It is 959 found pieces that have permitted us to establish a part of their daily equipment. The tools (scrapers, knives, adzes, gouges) were mostly made of quartz and then of shale and chert. The hardness of quartz allowed the natives to carve tools and weapons to hunt from wood, ivory or bones. The quality of this quartz brings us southwest of the Saint-Jean Lake and the Appalachians, letting us assume they travelled across vast territories and encountered other nations from the south shore of the St-Lawrence River.

Nowadays, the archaeological site Cap-de-Bon-Désir is part of the Cap-de-Bon-Déir Interpretation and Observation Center run by Park Canada.

RÉFÉRENCE : Parcs Canada


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