Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques

Extinct Bison of Manitoba

Extinct Bison of Manitoba
Installed 1989
Binscarth Museum
2nd Avenue, Binscarth

The most ancient form of bison dates back about 1.5 million years. By 2500 B.C., it had evolved into the modern variety familiar to us today. The local species developed from at least two now-extinct predecessors that were larger in size and had straighter horns than do their modern counterparts. These ancestral populations first entered the province from the High Plains to the south and west some 10,000 years ago as the last of the glaciers retreated.

With the warming trend which caused glacial Lake Agassiz to drain and grasslands to replace forest, the bison herds expanded over much of the province. This substantial animal population attracted peoples whose livelihood was based on the hunting of big game with spears and lances. The bones of these ancient bison have been discovered as far afield as Lake of the Woods and Southern Indian Lake, but they are particularly numerous along the banks of the Assiniboine River.