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Wanipigow Lake Archaeological Site

Division No. 19, Unorganized, Manitoba, R0E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1980/06/19

Contextual view of the Wanipigow Lake Archaeological Site, Wanipigow Lake, 1989; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 1989
Contextual View
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Other Name(s)

Wanipigow Lake Archaeological Site

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/03/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Wanipigow Lake Archaeological Site, consisting of archaeological artifacts and features, is situated on well-forested, low-lying ground on the rocky southeastern shore of Wanipigow Lake in eastern Manitoba. The provincial designation applies to the approximately 50,000-square-metre parcel of land, including a short peninsula and an area adjacent to a small bay, and excluding a block of centrally located cottages.

Heritage Value

The Wanipigow Lake Archaeological Site, one of the most significant in Manitoba, is valued for the wealth of information it contains about indigenous habitation over the past six millennia in the boreal forest east of Lake Winnipeg. Archaeological recoveries indicate the most intensive use of the site began about 2000 years ago with the Laurel people (named for their distinctive pottery, the oldest identified in Manitoba), followed successively by other groups, as revealed by Blackduck, Selkirk and Sandy Lake pottery types, among other artifacts. The Laurel presence, along with evidence of local harvesting of wild rice and goosefoot, are especially notable. They represent important shifts in Aboriginal lifeways from reliance on grassland resources to forest and aquatic resources, and from subsistence strategies based on small nomadic groups toward larger, more socially complex and seasonally sedentary concentrations of people. The natural advantages which made the Wanipigow site attractive, such as many nearby water bodies and a seasonal abundance and diversity of flora and fauna, are still apparent. This extensively researched site has contributed much to the field of archaeology in Manitoba and to the understanding of the province's early boreal forest inhabitants.

Source: Minister in Charge of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, June 19, 1980

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the locational character of the Wanipigow Lake Archaeological Site include:
- the natural and original setting on the southeastern shore of Wanipigow Lake, part of the Canadian Shield lying east of Lake Winnipeg that contains boreal forest, numerous rivers, creeks, lakes and marshes, etc.
- the natural terrestrial vegetation and proximity to aquatic resources

Key elements that define the site's physical and cultural character include:
- the elements that reflect precontact use, including the undisturbed cultural stratigraphy and numerous archaeological remains, such as artifacts, bone, hearths, stone constructions and other cultural features, especially any material in its original context
- the sequence of natural soil layers with their contained organic remains that are evidence of the site's past environments
- the use of the name Wanipigow, a Cree word for 'hollow water' or 'hole in the water', which corresponds to a local legend




Recognition Authority

Province of Manitoba

Recognition Statute

Manitoba Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Heritage Site

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
People and the Environment
Peopling the Land
Canada's Earliest Inhabitants

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Undetermined (archaeological site)
Buried Site
Food Supply
Hunting or Resource Harvesting Site

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Main Floor, 213 Notre Dame Avenue Winnipeg MB R3B 1N3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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