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Debert Palaeo-Indian Site

Debert, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1974/11/25

Fluted point artifact found at Debert, N.S.; Courtesy of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq, 2007.
Fluted point artifact
View of the Debert Palaeo-Indian Site, Debert, N.S.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2001.
Debert Site
Scraper found at the Debert Palaeo-Indian Site, Debert, N.S.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2001.
Scraper artifact

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1972/01/01 to 1972/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Debert site, located in central Nova Scotia, is the oldest archaeological site in the province and is recognized as one of the most important prehistoric sites in the province. The artifacts found here date from 10,600 to 13,000 years ago. The site has been designated a Special Place by the Nova Scotia provincial government.

Heritage Value

Debert is valued for its evidence of and association with Nova Scotia’s first peoples. The archaeological evidence found here reveals several living areas and a large number of stone artifacts. The site is the most northeasterly known Palaeo–Indian occupation and is one of only a few Palaeo-Indian sites discovered in a glaciated area. The last of the glacial ice retreated approximately 12,000 years ago. These first people managed to live successfully in a cold and rapidly changing environment.

More than 5000 stone artifacts have been found at Debert, many of which would have been used for hunting and preparing hides. The site is situated in an area that has an excellent view of the Cobequid Basin, giving the occupants an ideal view to be able to intercept herds of migrating animals. The location, along with the surviving stone artifacts suggests that people were there to hunt; the site may have only been used seasonally but over many generations. The artifacts consist of fluted points, knives, scrapers and gravers. Fluted points were made by removing small flakes from the rock to create a concave space at the bottom of the point, which would then most likely be attached to a spear.

The first of the Palaeo-Indian artifacts were found on the grounds of the former RCAF Station Debert, military camp, in 1948. It was not until 1955 that the significance of the site was recognized. The first archaeological testing began in 1962, and a major excavation took place in 1963 and 1964 by the Peabody Foundation for Archaeology, the National Museums of Canada, and the Nova Scotia Museum; research has continued through the decades at Debert.

Sources: Debert Palaeo-Indian Site, Protected Site Case Files and Heritage Site Inventory Case Files, Special Places Program, Heritage Division, Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements of the Debert Palaeo-Indian site include:
-view plane of the Cobequid Basin;
-Palaeo-Indian stone artifacts including fluted points, knives, scrapers, and gravers remaining in situ.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Special Places Protection Act

Recognition Type

Special Place

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Canada's Earliest Inhabitants

Function - Category and Type



Undetermined (archaeological site)
Buried Site
Military Base

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Special Places Files found at Special Places Program, Nova Scotia Heritage Division, 1747 Summer St, Halifax, NS, B3H 3A6

Cross-Reference to Collection

The Canadian Museum of Civilization "Gateway to Aboriginal Heritage" online exhibition shows a collection of more than 300 stone tools and weapons used by the Palaeo-Indian population at Debert.

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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