Ontario Resource Document
The Archaic Period
(9000 - 3000 B.P.)

Over several thousand years, the glaciers in Ontario continued to melt.  People moved farther north as more land was left behind the melting ice.  Different plants and animals lived in the warming and changing environment in southern Ontario. Different tools were made from the ones brought to Ontario earlier (perhaps to kill different kinds of animals; perhaps because different people had moved here). People in southern Ontario lived in camps in small groups and hunted and fished in the forests and lakes.

In northern Ontario, it was still cool from the glaciers.  The animals (like caribou) that liked the cold moved north.  People there hunted the caribou, like the people in southern Ontario had done a long time before.  The difference was that the people in northern Ontario used the same, improved kinds of tools as the people in southern Ontario.  The didn't keep using Clovis points (Clovis was a place in the U.S.A. where this kind of point was firs found.  Archaeologists gave this type a point a different name in Ontario).

The hunting tool that people started to use was called an atlatl. It had a stone point on a stick; together these made up a dart.  The shaft was shorter and thinner than for a spear. The dart fit into a throwing stick.  Sometimes, polished stone weights (that archaeologists have called birdstones or bannerstones) were put on the dart to help it fly further and with more force (though bannerstones were usually found in burials, so may have been used for that only).  The throwing stick helped hunters stand further away from the animals they were killing than if they had used a spear.

The points were different from Clovis points because they had a notched base (called a tang) that made them easier to tie onto the stick - the shaft of the dart.  People also started to make points and jewelry from copper, and stone tools - like gouges for chopping wood. Becaue people in northern Ontario lived differently from people in southern Ontario, people started forming different groups with different habits, words and artifacts.  Perhaps other groups moved north into Ontario from further south at this time also.

Evidence archaeologists have from this period includes:
  • spear points (see projectile point chart)
  • bannerstones
  • campsites at different places for each season
  • burials with skeletons of people and of dogs and personal belongings and red ochre colouring
  • dates from tests on bones and charcoal
A famous Archaic period site in southern Ontario is the Surma site (site 1 on this map) in Fort Erie, near the shore of the lake.


1. What were the dates of the Archaic period in Ontario?

2. What made the Archaic people different from the Palaeo period?

3. What evidence have archaeologists found from this period?

4. How could archaeologists tell which seasons a campsite had been used?

The Palaeo Period
(up till 9000 B. P.)
The Archaic Period
(9000 - 3000 B.P.)
The Woodland Period
(3000 - 300 B.P.)
The Historic or Post-Contact Period
( 300 B.P. - Present)
Archaeology Canada and the Ontario Curriculum
Annotated Resource List