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Gray Burial Site National Historic Site of Canada

Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1973/11/15

Image not available.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2011.
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Other Name(s)

Gray Burial Site National Historic Site of Canada
Gray Burial Site
Site de sépulture Gray

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2017/01/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Gray Burial Site National Historic Site of Canada is located on a farm north-west of the town of Swift Current, Saskatchewan. At the site numerous ancient human burials are concentrated in a small area on a hillside, the slope of which gradually becomes a ravine south of the site. The area surrounding the Gray Burial Site comprises moderately rolling hills composed of Aeolian sand covered with short grass vegetation. Official recognition refers to the site at the time of designation.

Heritage Value

Gray Burial Site was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1973 because:
— it is a very rare example of an Aboriginal burial ground on the Canadian prairies and one of the oldest such sites to be found, dating from the third millennium B. C.

The heritage value of Gray Burial Site National Historic Site of Canada lies in its association with it being one of the oldest burial sites in the Canadian Prairies. This outstanding example of a mortuary site is determined to have been established in 3000 B.C. Gray Burial Site appears to house archaeological and technological remains associated with the Oxbow Complex. The Gray Site constitutes a unique window on the human occupants of the Canadian prairies in the third millennium B.C. Gray Burial Site is associated with a hunter-gatherer group whose members primarily hunted bison herds, other mammals and birds, and who were seasonal gatherers. They regularly returned to this location to bury their dead over an extended period of time. To date approximately 87 burials containing the remains of about 154 individuals have been identified. The individual burials display a remarkable degree of variation in burial techniques.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1973, March 2012.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
— the location in the grassy hillside of Saskatchewan in the Canadian Prairies;
— the current setting within cultivated farmland near Swift Current;
— the integrity and materials of the site’s extensive surviving remains;
— the integrity of the components associated with the Oxbow Complex period;
— the viewscapes to and from the site and the immediate surroundings.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Philosophy and Spirituality
Peopling the Land
Canada's Earliest Inhabitants

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate, Documentation Centre, 3rd Floor, Room 366, 30 Victoria St, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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