Quirks & Quarks

First Footprints in Canada

Footprints are evidence for first peoples migrating down the western islands of Canada during the last Ice Age.

Archaeologists discover footprints in BC more than 13,000 years old

footprint in waterlogged clay, photo enhanced in blue for better visibility. (Joanne McSporran)
Archaeologists working on islands off the coast of British Columbia have discovered what may be the oldest footprints in North America - dating to just after the peak of the last Ice Age.

Dr. Duncan McLaren of the Hakai Institute and the Anthropology department at the University of Victoria and colleagues excavated the footprints over two seasons in the field. They found twelve footprints sunk into soft clay and likely made by two adults and a child - possibly a family - and a hearth where a fire would have been made. The footprints can't be dated directly, but charcoal in the sand that had filled the first footprint was dated to 13,200 years ago, suggesting the prints are likely to be at least that old.

This find lends support to the idea that the first humans in the Americas entered the continent by coastal migration, since any land route would have been blocked by the continental ice cap

Related Links

- Hakai Institute release 
Hakai Magazine article
CBC News story
Globe and Mail story