Archaeology on British Columbia's coast is never dull. In this instance, the group is following Duncan McLaren, a University of Victoria (UVic) archaeologist preoccupied with the past of this remote and soggy place, costly to reach and formidable to researchers used to milder landscapes. But it's also a rich place, where the buried past presses close to the surface, evidence of a people's home since the end of the last glacial period over 11,000 calendar years ago.
The discipline of archaeology has traditionally viewed the islands and fjords of the Central Coast as a corridor to somewhere else, imagining it as the route out of Asia to the Americas, speeding travelers on their way to what would become California, Texas, and southern Chile—a faceless service area on the turnpike heading south.
McLaren belongs to a group of scientists with a different perspective. Their question is not the familiar "Where did people come from and where did they go?" Rather, it's, "How did the people live here so well?"