The Glenrose Cannery site, which lies on the Fraser River near the Alex Fraser bridge, is one of the mose significant archaeological sites in BC. The human figure on the left, above, dates to the ‘St Mungo” phase, putting it at between 3500 and 5000 years old. It might be the oldest known representation of a human being in British Columbia – well, to my knowledge, it is. Yet, you can already see elements of the formline art appearing – look at the eyebrows, for example. More importantly, look at the beard. Look at the hair, pulled into a bun. This is a portrait of an individual. The artifact, which is probably a small handle for a chisel, is a masterpiece of Canadian art. The site in which it was found shows continuous occupation from the present to about 9,000 years ago and spans up to eight metres of vertical deposits.
So it is disturbing to think that Glenrose might be further affected by development, in this case, road building associated with the “Gateway Project”, a transportation infrastructure megathrust to get stuff to and from the Ports of Vancouver faster. There is a short article in The Province yesterday (archive) in which UBC Professor Emeritus RG Matson, one of the key figures in BC Archaeology, visits the site. We can’t preserve everything from the past, clearly, or all cultures at all times would have been glued to the footprints of their forebears. But a site of such demonstrated significance as Glenrose should probably be completely off limits.