At the Malthusian ceiling: Subsistence and inequality at Bridge River, British Columbia

Anna Marie Prentiss, Hannah S. Cail, Lisa M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The Bridge River Village, located in the Middle Fraser Canyon of British Columbia, was established and grew to maximum size during the period of ca. 1800-1100. cal. B.P. Village expansion occurred in two distinct stages resulting in a stepped pattern of demographic growth. We suggest that this could reflect two distinctly different periods, the first (Bridge River 2) a relatively comfortable equilibrium with little subsistence stress; the second (Bridge River 3) a truly Malthusian ceiling associated with reduction in critical subsistence resources, social change, and eventual abandonment. In this paper we explore the interactions between resource productivity, food harvest and storage, animal husbandry, demographic growth, and socio-political change in the late Holocene Middle Fraser Canyon. The study provides us with the opportunity to compare and contrast histories of hunter-gatherer-fisher people with that of other complex hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists on similar demographic scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-48
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Animal husbandry (dogs)
  • British Columbia
  • Complex hunter-gatherers
  • Demography
  • Salmon fishing


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