With the retreat of the ice, animals such as caribou, moved into the newly opened landscape grazing on the emerging vegetation. Waterfowl took advantage of the abundant wetlands. The environment around Bancroft would have been very similar to arctic and sub-artic conditions for thousands of years!
Small groups of highly mobile and adaptive indigenous hunters who were exploring these newly opened lands and in pursuit of game, moved from areas to the south approximately 11,500 years ago. Imagine a group of hunters pursuing herds of caribou in the valley below!
These first people tended to congregate near landscape features that provided the best access to animal and plant resources, ones that attracted wildlife, were good for hunting, and provided vantage points. As you look around and out across the valley, can you find some of the landscape features that would have attracted the first peoples?
Hunters travelled far and light, carrying only the few tools and necessities they needed. Stone tools and shelters, etc. were constructed when and where they were needed. The earliest people hunted with hand-held spears and atlatls (spear throwers). The bow and arrow were developed much later.
Shelters were simple structures made from rock, poles, and covered with animal hides. Think of the old growth forest that provided everything the Algonquin people needed to travel, camp, trap and fish, celebrate their culture and sustain their families and villages.
To the Algonquin, these forests were their home. They knew everything about them. They knew that in late summer, game would be attracted to the oak stands that were ripe with acorns. They knew where the moose browsed in the maple forests, and where the deer sheltered in cedar stands in winter. Where forest fires had burned, they knew they would find strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to harvest. Survival depended on this knowledge and their ability to adapt. The forest was a great provider of materials used in everyday life of the Algonquin people.
The Algonquin cultural world was filled with legends of the forest passed down orally generation to generation. The forest itself was alive with the spirits of the trees, the rocks and the animals.
While the forests of Algonquin Territory have changed significantly over the course of history, the forests here at Eagles Nest Park remain integral to carrying on the cultural traditions of the Algonquin people