How Ancient Dog Remains On Haida Gwaii Changed Our View Of Human History

It’s one of the best dog stories we’ve heard.

Internet Archive Book Images, Wikimedia Commons/ Peter Boome, Stonington Gallery

Shaggy dog stories abound on International Dog Day, which falls on Friday this week. Few tales, however, can top the story of the canine who lived 13,100 years ago on B.C.’s coast.

The dog’s name, appearance, life story, and relationship with humans, is lost to history. But when its remains were found and dated by archaeologists searching caves on Moresby and Huxley islands, and reported last year, that dog changed history.

The find in the south of Haida Gwaii is “the earliest known domestic dog remains reported on in the Americas,” reported a team of researchers last year.


The presence of a domestic dog suggests that people inhabited Haida Gwaii thousands of years earlier than earlier research had suggested. Previous work at other sites had revealed “human and paleontological records for Haida Gwaii back to 10,700 years ago.”

 “Recovery of 13,100-year-old dog remains further infers human presence to at least that time,” said the science report. 

Dogs are “a proxy for the presence of humans,” researcher Quentin Mackie told Devon Bidal of Hakai Magazine, in a piece published last December.

Before the dog arrived in the archipelago, Haida Gwaii was connected to the mainland by a grassy plain, which was flooded nearly 11,000 years ago and became what we now call Hecate Strait.

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