The Debert archaeological site was discovered near the city of Debert in north-central Nova Scotia in 1948, and excavated between 1962 and 1964. It is the oldest and best recorded Palaeoindian site found in Atlantic Canada to this day. It is around 11 000 years old.
About 4 500 stone artifacts were collected at Debert. Among them are distinctive fluted lanceolate spearpoints resembling those of the Clovis Big-Game Hunting tradition in western North America. Similar items were also found at other sites in the eastern US, suggesting that people spread rapidly into the Maritimes region following the last glaciation.
Many of the tools found at Debert were used to hunt and butcher animals. Although no bone remains were preserved, the site probably served as a hunting encampment, strategically located to intercept herds of Woodland caribou then abundant in the region. The study of palaeoecological (ie, fossil) data revealed that, at the time, the region was characterized by a forest-tundra environment.
In 1989, two other Palaeoindian camps, known as Belmont I and Belmont II, were discovered within a kilometre from Debert. Archaeologists found 700 stone artifacts that are almost identical to the tools collected at Debert, indicating that the sites were occupied during the same period.
The importance of Debert in Canadian history was recognized in 1972, when it was declared a National Historic Site. In 1992, the designated place was broadened to include the Belmont Palaeoindian sites. The Debert and Belmont sites have also been designated as a "special place" under the Nova Scotia Special Places Protection Act.