Established as a historic-class park, Petroglyphs Provincial Park (established 1976, 1643 ha) is located 55 km northeast of Peterborough, Ontario. It is located on the southern edge of the Canadian SHIELD
and in a transition zone between the Shield and the Great Lakes-St Lawrence Lowland area. Rocky ridges covered with thin soil are interspersed with low-lying wetlands.
Petroglyphs Provincial Park is the site of one of Canada's archaeological and cultural treasures. On a flat expanse of rock are some 900 carvings or PETROGLYPHS
of symbolic shapes and figures, likely carved by Algonquian-speaking people. The carvings are thought to range in age from 600 to 1100 years old. Depicting turtles, snakes, humans and other beings and objects, the petroglyphs form the largest known single concentration of aboriginal rock art in Canada.
The petroglyphs were carved in a roughly rectangular area about 60 m by 35 m on a gently sloping, flat marble surface. Thirty-one hammerstones made of gneiss (a harder rock) were found in crevices nearby. Today the site is considered sacred by people such as the Anishinaabe, who call it Kinoomaagewaapkong, meaning "the rocks that teach."
There is a wide diversity of trees and plant life, including large stands of red and white pine interspersed with pockets of spruce and mixed hardwoods such as white birch, sugar maple, and red oak. The park is home to a large population of white-tailed deer, as well as smaller mammals such as beaver, fisher, chipmunk, and squirrel. Many birdwatchers visit the park to see grey jays. These birds are more typically seen in areas to the north. Visitors may also see pileated woodpeckers, various warblers, northern flickers, and ruffed grouse. Bald and golden eagles can sometimes be seen in the winter.
Four trails provide an opportunity to experience and explore the rich diversity of the park: pine stands, areas of oak and birch, open areas with grasses, ferns, and exposed rock outcrops, and an ancient streambed made thousands of years ago by glacial meltwater.
In 1984, a specially designed building was constructed over the main body of the petroglyphs. This mostly glass enclosure protects the images from the effects of ACID RAIN
, algae, frost, and vandals. In 2002 a visitor centre opened. Its exhibit area features some native beliefs and their thoughts on the petroglyphs. There is also a section showing other rock art sites in the world.
Peterorough Petroglyph Site
The Peterorough Petroglyph Site, located in Southern Ontario. The Petroglyphs were carved by the Algonquian-speaking people (courtesy Serge Lemaître).
NANCY RAHTZ Rev: LISA ROACH
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Petroglyphs Provincial Park
Official website of Petroglyphs Provincial Park in Ontario.
Carved in Stone: Mi'kmaw Petroglyphs
View a fascinating collection of George Creed's tracings of Mi'kmaw petroglyphs. From the Nova Scotia Museum of Cultural History.