Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Bentley Street Archaeological Site is a 5,100 square meter archaeological site situated on a ridge overlooking the harbor at Saint John. This place was associated with an ancient portage route bypassing the treacherous Reversing Falls at the mouth of the Saint John River. The thin soil over bedrock has revealed artifacts possibly spanning the past 10,000 years.
Bentley Street Archaeological Site is designated a Provincial Historic Site for its strategically location at the mouth of the largest river in the Maritimes, and it bears witness to the entire span of human history in this region. The earliest migrants at the end of the ice age left stone tools marking their passage eastward from sites in Maine to the rest of the Maritimes.
From the collection of stone tools that were left at the end of the ice age, to the tools that have been traced to quarries throughout the region and early historical documentation, we know the site was located on an important travel route for several millennia before European arrival. The recovery of rare material culture, such as soap stone bowl fragments, and data recovered from archaeological deposits, such as higher densities of artifacts at elevated promontories revealing the preference of a panoramic view, add to our understanding of the aesthetic, social and cultural values of the users of this historic place. Scientific data recovered from the site, including tools from 4000 years ago, indicate utilization of the location in periods when the climate was warmer than today’s. This place was also associated with an ancient portage route bypassing the treacherous Reversing Falls at the mouth of the Saint John River.
While the site has been impacted by urban activities, there are at least two significant areas of undisturbed soils that contain Aboriginal material culture and archaeological features.
Source: Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport - Heritage Branch, Site File: Vol. VII, 75.
The character-defining elements of the Bentley Street Archaeological Site relating to location and context of the site include:
- location at the mouth of the largest river in the Maritimes;
- setting on an elevated rock promontory and the unimpeded panoramic viewscape.
The character-defining elements of the Bentley Street Archaeological Site relating to its richness and cultural implications include:
- in situ cultural and archaeological resources;
- scientific and archaeological data and collections recovered from the site;
- yet-to-be-uncovered resources relating to future research and interpretation of the historic use of the site by diverse cultures.
Province of New Brunswick
Historic Sites Protection Act, s. 2(2)
Historic Sites Protection Act – Protected
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- People and the Environment
- Peopling the Land
- Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Function - Category and Type
- Undetermined (archaeological site)
- Buried Site
- Traditional Trail or Trading Route
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport - Heritage Branch, Site File: Vol. VII, 75.
Cross-Reference to Collection