An archaeological reconnaissance of the Lake Diefenbaker region in south central Saskatchewan
Himour, Bradley David
In 1958, an initial archaeological assessment of the central portion of the South Saskatchewan River began in anticipation of the construction of two massive rolled earth dams along the South Saskatchewan and Qu'Appelle Rivers. Once completed, the Gardiner and Qu'Appelle Arm dams, respectively, created a vast freshwater reservoir suitable for irrigation, the generation of electric energy, and recreation. At the same time, the formation of Lake Diefenbaker spurred several independent investigations of the region's cultural history and the localized impact of reservoir development on archaeological resources. The 1995-1996 Lake Diefenbaker archaeological project attempted to summarize the results of previous investigations carried out within the region and to provide contemporary data through field research. The project attempted to address three major objectives: to provide a comprehensive analysis of the cultural history of the region; to assess the impact of the development of Lake Diefenbaker on the archaeological resources of the South Saskatchewan River valley; and to provide data and analysis for the ongoing management of heritage resources affected by the reservoir. A thirty-five linear kilometer survey was completed along the eastern margin of Lake Diefenbaker during the 1995-1996 field seasons. Eighteen archaeological sites, representing twelve precontact and six contact period occupations, were recorded. At the same time, the rates of erosion for various landforms along the eastern shoreline of the reservoir were measured at several of the heritage site locales. I determined that monitoring of the full extent of the reservoir is necessary to prevent the undocumented loss of archaeological materials and that salvage excavation is required where partially intact archaeological components are threatened by fluvial erosion. I further suggest that a geoarcharchaeological study of the landforms in the region be carried out in order to provide the data necessary for the interpretation of precontact settlement patterns within the South Saskatchewan River valley.