Paleo-Indian Period (9500-7900 B.C.)
The first known human occupation in the Bothwell area occurred
9500 B.C., following the retreat of the Wisconsin glacier. During this period,
the environment in southern Ontario was characterized by a cool climate. The
vegetation, in transition from spruce to pine dominated forests, would have
resembled the modern sub-arctic.
The initial occupation of southern Ontario by Paleo-Indian peoples took place
toward the end of a period of high water levels in the Great Lakes, including
Lake Algonquin in the Lake Huron Basin and early Lake Erie to the south. That
ended when the North Bay outlet opened ca. 8500-8000 B.C., draining Lake
Algonquin eastward. The result created Lake Stanley in the Lake Huron Basin,
Lake Hough in the Georgian Bay Basin and what were in effect a series of large
ponds in the Lake Erie Basin. What are now Pelee Island and Middle Island were
hills in an otherwise dry west end of the Lake Erie Basin.
Paleo-Indian sites in the Great Lakes region are presumed to relate to a focal adaptation based primarily upon the communal hunting of seasonally migrating herds of woodland caribou. In general, favourite Paleo-Indian site locations include areas adjacent to glacial spillways and kettle lakes, often near present-day swamps on loam soils proximal to muck soils representing the margins of relic pro-glacial or post-glacial lakes. The most diagnostic Paleo-Indian artifacts consist of various types of Early Paleo-Indian fluted projectile points (ca. 9500 - 8500 B.C.) and of projectile points of the Late Paleo-Indian Hi-Lo type (ca. 8300 - 7900 B.C.) and Holcombe type (ca. 8400 B.C.).
Water levels continued to rise throughout this period, but in the earlier millennia vast areas in the Lake Erie and Lake Huron basins were dry and habitable. Indeed, research suggests that these lake plains would have represented the richest environment for prehistoric hunters and gatherers in the entire Lower Great Lakes region, and that they probably contained a wealth of early camp sites and other archaeological resources that were later flooded.
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