First Nations

The First Nations of the lower Fraser River, known collectively as “Halkomelem” from their shared language, were expert boatmen who since time immemorial have travelled the rivers, creeks and sloughs of what would become the District of Maple Ridge.

They transported temporary shelters like the mat-covered frames shown here as well as their own tools and belongings along with any foodstuffs being harvested.

Central Salish women standing on a low bank outside a mat shelter, 1900.

Halkomelem economy was based on seasonal abundance — wild plants or salmon, in particular — which could be harvested in huge quantities and preserved for other seasons or for trade.  For more information on the annual economic activities of the Halkomelem peoples, see Katzie Seasonal Round.

The canoes of the First Nations people were made of finely finished, hollowed logs in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. They had everything from small craft to navigate small streams and sloughs to large ocean-going canoes.

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