Fall Caribou Crossing
Passage de caribous en automne
Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site of Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site of Canada spans a section of the lower Kazan River (Harvaqtuuq) between the Kazan Falls and the narrows in Thirty Mile Lake (Quukilruq) in the Territory of Nunavut. In this area, the river has an east-west orientation, and is relatively narrow with gently sloping shorelines. The entire area is criss-crossed with extensive caribou trails. The designation refers to the entire cultural landscape with its associated resources.
Fall Caribou Crossing was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1995 because:
- the Fall Caribou Crossing hunt on the Kazan River, focusing on the inland or caribou hunt, speaks eloquently to the cultural, spiritual and economic life of the Inuit in the Keewatin region, and stands as a site of particular significance to its community.
The heritage value of Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site of Canada lies in its witness to centuries of inland Inuit caribou hunt in a cultural landscape with particular natural geographic features, abundant evidence of human occupation associated with the caribou hunt, and animated by oral histories, cultural traditions and archaeological patterns related to long term inland Inuit use, maintenance and activity. For centuries, the fall caribou crossing on the Kazan River was essential to the inland Inuit, providing them with the necessities of daily life and the means to survive the long winter. Once in the water, the caribou were vulnerable to hunters in kayaks who caught and lanced as many as possible. The Inuit cherished and cared for the land at the crossing areas in accordance with traditional beliefs and practices to ensure that the caribou returned each year during their southward migration. To inland Inuit, the caribou was the essence of life. All parts were valuable for food, fuel, tools, clothing and shelter.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, July 1995; Commemorative Integrity Statement, 1997.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the integrity of the cultural landscape as a whole, with its continued use as a fall caribou hunting area;
- the continued presence of caribou;
- the east-west orientation of the river and its four main crossing areas;
- the relatively undisturbed nature of the land in the crossing area;
- the location of traditional camp sites down wind, out of sight and on the bank opposite to the area where the caribou traditionally cross the river;
- the integrity of archaeological evidence related to the caribou hunt (including inuksuit, tent rings, quajaq stands, caches, hunting blinds and butchering sites);
- the integrity of archaeological evidence related to inland Inuit occupancy and care of the site (such as burial grounds, fishing areas, waste deposits);
- continued respect for the integrity of associated oral histories, and their links to physical evidence on-site;
- continued respect for the integrity of traditional practices and beliefs related to this site, and their implications concerning proper behaviour on this site;
- unimpeded viewscapes of the river crossing and its surrounding banks;
- the harmonious integration of natural and man-made features.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
- Developing Economies
- Hunting and Gathering
Function - Category and Type
- Food Supply
- Hunting or Resource Harvesting Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec
Cross-Reference to Collection