First Inhabitants, Prehistory
Pleistocene Ice Age, Pleistocene Epoch, Beringia, Distinct cultures, isthmus
The indigenous peoples say they have been in Canada as long as the landscape itself. Evidence of their presence dates from the time when the land reappeared from under the great ice sheets that covered most of the country during the Pleistocene Ice Age at its peak about 18,000 years ago.
Dry land, largely ice-free, linked Asia and Alaska during the Pleistocene Epoch. Most anthropoligist believe Canada’s first immigrants used this isthmus, a natural land bridge called Beringia, to migrate into North America at least 15,000 years ago. Some scholars believe the earliest migrants arrived much earlier, perhaps 30,000 years ago or longer. These first people seem to have been nomads who hunted mammoth, bison, and caribou. They expanded their range as the ice sheets retreated. As the climate stabilized and northern North America developed its modern ecological zones, such as tundra, forest, and prairie, the hunters adapted to local conditions.
Other migrants from Asia came later, perhaps as recently as 4,000 years ago, bringing new languages and different types of tools and weapons. Distinct cultures and nations developed throughout Canada. They comprised at least 11 separate language groups with hundreds of individual languages and a variety of ways of living.
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