Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dr. Peter Ramsden




This thesis examines the socio-economic transition from foraging to farming in Bruce County, Ontario which culminates with the appearance of the Nodwell village. the form (settlement pattern) and contents (material culture and subsistence remains) representative of a small-scale farming community, and was therefore distinct from the earlier forager habitations in the region. As recently as AD 1000 this region was occupied by mobile hunter-gatherers who followed an annual cycle, inhabiting numerous small sites, in nuclear family units. This strategy allowed the foragers of Bruce county to exploit various natural resources throughout the region during the course of the year. In contrast, the Nodwell village was occupied by a much more sedentary community of people, living in extended family groups, and producing domesticated crops. This transition occurred in a maximum of 350 years. Until recently, this transition was explained using a migration model which suggested that an intact horticultural community had migrated into Bruce county in the mid-fourteenth century and replaced the indigenous foragers. However, this model has become increasingly controversial. Primarily, the migration model over-simplifies the process of culture change by suggesting that culture change is short-term process, initiated from the outside. As a result, this model fails to explore adequately the complex historical, cultural, regional and ecological context in which this event occurred. Furthermore, by failing to situate the appearance of the Nodwell village into historical context this model was unable to negate the possibility that the transition from foraging to farming was initiated locally. In contrast, this dissertation re-evaluates the transition within a much broader historical and regional framework and demonstrates that the socio-economic transition from foraging to farming in Bruce county was a long-term process influenced by events occurring inernally, at the local level, and externally, through inter-cultural interaction. The process of change from foraging to farming will no doubt vary in other regions, but the historical approach used here provides a valuable explanatory framework which can be applied in other regions and will help to highlight the diversity of cultural behaviour in prehistory

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