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HETHERINGTON ERRATICS FIELD

Near Fort MacLeod, Alberta, T0L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1978/09/15

Hetherington Erratics Field, near Fort Macleod (2008); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch
Erratics looking east
Hetherington Erratics Field, near Fort Macleod (2008); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch
Striations
Hetherington Erratics Field, near Fort Macleod (2008); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch
Quartzite blocks

Other Name(s)

HETHERINGTON ERRATICS FIELD
Chester's Field Erratic

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/02

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Hetherington Erratics Field is situated roughly 17 kilometres south-west of Fort Macleod. The site comprises roughly 58 hectares of land and features a collection of large and small glacial erratics scattered over the summit and eastern slope of a hillside.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Hetherington Erratics Field lies in the insights it provides into prehistoric glacial flows and the migrations of the early inhabitants of North America.

The Hetherington Erratics Field is one of several major sites located within the Foothills Erratics Train, a long, narrow chain of erratics (glacially-transported rocks) stretching from Jasper south to Montana. Geologists believe that a rockslide in the mountains of the Jasper area dropped large quartzite boulders onto the surface of the passing Athabasca valley glacier during the last ice age. The glacier initially moved eastward before being deflected to the south by the massive Laurentide Ice Sheet. As the glacier flowed south, it deposited a wealth of boulders along its path, including the mammoth "Big Rock" Erratic at Okotoks. The Hetherington Erratics Field is situated at a point in the Foothills Erratics Train where the belt of glacially transported rocks bottlenecks, narrowing from several kilometres to a single kilometre wide. It appears that a steep hillside prevented the boulders from being distributed further west. The site contains roughly twelve large erratics plus dozens of smaller glacially-transported rocks. The larger erratics feature polished corners and substantial surrounding depressions, evidence of their use as rubbing stones by buffalo and, more recently, by cattle. The site offers vital insights into the direction of the glacial flows of the Cordilleran and Laurentide Ice Sheets. It also provides compelling evidence about the period in which an ice-free corridor appeared on the eastern slopes of the Rockies and in the Foothills. Emerging at the end of the last ice age, roughly 10,000 years ago, this corridor is believed to have been one of the primary passageways used by the earliest inhabitants of North America to penetrate the interior of the continent.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 793)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Hetherington Erratics Field include such features as:
- mass, form, and scale of the erratics;
- cracks in the erratics;
- spatial arrangement of the erratics;
- polished surfaces of the erratics and surrounding depressions;
- distinctive circular depressions under larger, exposed erratics;
- stony soil in the vicinity of the erratics;
- information potential for further insights into glacial flows and the migrations of early North Americans.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

1978/09/15

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Peopling the Land
People and the Environment
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Science

Function - Category and Type

Current

Environment
Nature Element

Historic

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 793)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0117

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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