Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites In Ontario

The Previous Post – Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of the Canadian Shield – provides an overview. This post looks specifically at sites located in Ontario.

See the Anishinaabe Rock Images folder for more posts on various provinces and states. Note that Anishinaabe (one of many spellings when transliterated into English using Roman letters) is the name by which the Algonkian-speaking Peoples know themselves. It includes the Innu, the Algonquin, the Ojibwe (aka Chippewa in the USA), and the Cree peoples. [See here for an intro to the Anishinaabe.]

Any of the following Ontario locations would provide a great introduction to Anishinaabe rock paintings. The sites I have visited and posted a report on are those with hot links.

Quetico Provincial Park

Lake of the Woods/Rainy Lake region 

Mooseland Lake 

The Bloodvein River in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

Cliff Lake on the Pikitigushi River system

Agawa Rock

Missinaibi Lake

Little Missinaibi Lake

Diamond Lake (Temagami)

Mazinaw Lake (Bon Echo) 

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The province has been divided into the following regions, with  Highway 17 as the northern limit of 1 and 2. To directly access a particular area,  just click on its name below:

  1. Quetico Area

  2. Lake of the Woods/Rainy Lake

  3. Northwest (N of Hwy 17)

  4. Northeast

  5. South (of French/Mattawa Rivers)

also, see  Three Essential Sources of Information

Please note – While I have visited a few of the sites mentioned in this post, for the most part I am drawing from the book sources mentioned below, other material found online or at the Toronto Reference Library,  and the occasional email contact. 

Some site locations that you will find here are vague and, I am sure, completely wrong!  It may be the nature of the source I used; it may be my bad interpretation of that source.  Over time I hope to eliminate most of the inaccurate information. 

Any specific location info – GPS co-ordinates or map-indicated  – you can provide to improve this post would be appreciated.   So too would any jpg images you would be willing to make available to others who share your passion and interest.  You can email me at  true_north@mac.com   

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Essential Sources:

Selwyn Dewdney. Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes. 1962 (First Ed.) and 1967 (2nd Ed.)

the front cover of a classic

Selwyn Dewdney is the man most responsible for systematically tracking down, recording, and analyzing the Anishinaabe pictographs of Ontario. By 1967 and the second edition of his book Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes, he recorded 264 different sites, most in Ontario, with the others in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. (See here for a pdf list of those 264 sites.)

Click on the book title to see a copy of the 1962 first edition of the book, which the Royal Ontario Museum contributed to the digital Internet Archive in 2014. The first edition is available in various formats on the Amazon.ca website. See here for details. 

Since the first edition covers only the first 102 of the 264 sites Dewdney eventually visited, many significant locations are not included. However, it is still a great introduction to his work. Note that the 57 pages of additional material from the 1967 second edition of the book can be accessed here as a 7 Mb pdf file.

The following fifty-year-old Dewdney maps show clearly that the heart of Ontario’s pictograph country lies from Lake Nipigon to the Manitoba border, with Quetico and Lake of the Woods being the primary locations.

Dewdney Indian Rock Paintings of the Canadian Shield map - east section

Dewdney Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes map – east section

Indian Rock Paintings of the Canadian Shield map - west part

Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes map – west part

Grace Rajnovich. Reading Rock Art: Interpreting the Indian Rock Paintings Of The Canadian Shield. 1994.

Dewdney spent his formative years in Kenora. Grace Rajnovich also has a Kenora connection; she worked there for fourteen years as a field archaeologist for the Ontario government. Clearly inspired by Dewdney’s example,  she writes in the foreword to Reading Rock Art that her study was meant as “a complement to that classic work.”

She provides a thematic organization to the subject matter and deepens the discussion by using the birchbark scrolls and their imagery to interpret the pictographs. (Dewdney’s work on the scrolls only happened in the late ’60s and early 1970s after his pictograph study was published.)

Rajnovich’s book also has ink illustrations of the pictographs by Ojibway artist Wayne Yerxa. In contrast to Rajnovich’s thematic arrangement, Dewdney’s discussion of the various sites is based on their geographical location. Given that he was primarily an artist, he also provided many sketches made from the side of his canoe and some photographs.

Her book is available on Amazon in both hard copy ($30, Cdn)  and a Kindle download ($8.).

Thor Conway. Discovering Rock Art.2016.

discovering-rock-art-cover_300x454

Another insightful introduction to Ojibwa pictographs in Ontario is the book, whose cover is pictured here. In the 1970’s Thor and Julie Conway began their study of traditional Ojibwa culture, specifically the rock paintings found in the Ontario part of the boreal Shield country. Over the years, they have published several articles and books on their archeological work.

Recently (fall 2016), an updated edition of Discovering Rock Art: A Personal Journey With Tribal Elders. It details a dozen sites across Ontario – from Mazinaw Rock in Bon Echo Provincial Park in eastern Ontario to Artery Lake in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park not far from the Manitoba border. His approach is explained in the preface –

The voices of the Ojibwa elders islluminate these rock sites. By recalling oral history and legends, their knowledge helps us to understand the meanings behind the ancient carvings and paintings.

You can get a copy directly from Thor Conway or from Amazon. This Table of Contents lists the specific sites dealt with.

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1. Quetico Area

Quetico Master Map with forty sites indicated – kml file in my Dropbox folder. It can be opened by the Google Earth application in Chrome or Safari.

The best single book on the Quetico pictographs – location, meaning, cultural context – is Michael Furtman’s Magic On The Rocks. (Click on the title for more info.) When I get to Quetico, the book will definitely be coming along. I’ve used the Furtman book for most of the locations in this section.

Magic On the Rocks - Michael Furtman

The  Northwoods Memories website has “bulletins” of many Quetico and nearby BWCA pictograph sites. Each sheet includes the location and a brief write-up of the various images at the particular site.

northwoods memories website

Agnes Lake  –  see here for detailed maps & discussion of 7 different sites. Dewdney recorded his first two sites on this Lake in 1957 to begin his pictograph quest.

Agnes Lake Site 2 - canoe with two human figures

Agnes Lake Site 2 (island) – canoe with two human figures

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“Ahsin” Lake – Dewdney’s name for Payne Lake in Quetico Provincial Park

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Basswood River

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Beatty Portage – Lac la Croix west end on the Minnesota side  < 1 km N of  portage

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Beaverhouse Lake

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Burt Lake

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Cache Bay   pix and map at Jack’s Outdoor Adventure blog

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Cirrus Lake

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Cypress Lake

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Darkwater Lake (formerly Darky Lake) in Quetico – map here. Conway’s Discovering Rock Art (2016) includes a chapter on this site.

a 1957 Dewdney sketch of a couple of the Darky Lake Pictographs

a 1957 Dewdney sketch of a couple of the Darky Lake Pictographs

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Darky Lake – see Darkwater Lake.

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Doré Lake 

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Kahshahpiwi Lake  – larger scale map here

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Kawnipi Lake

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Keewatin Lake

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Lac La Croix  – three sites, one at the west end (Beatty Portage) + two at the east

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Mckenzie Lake – the locations of two sites here

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Montgomery Creek

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McAlpine Lake

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Namakan Lake (Narrows)

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Northern Light Lake (Trafalgar Bay) – image here and here; 1:30,000 topo here

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Payne Lake – the location of Dewdney’s “Ahsin” Lake, the 3rd of his picto site finds

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Pictured Lake – also see the front cover of Dewdney’s book!

Painted Rock Lake - See here for source

Painted Rock Lake – See here for the image source

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Quetico Lake  – three different sites – two pix here

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Saganaga Lake

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Shade Lake

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Swartman Lake

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Ted Lake

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Trant Lake

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Wolseley Lake

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2. Lake of the Woods/Rainy Lake

Lake of the Woods:Rainy Lake

Annie Island –  Lake of the Woods (Whitefish Bay). There is a lone human figure described by Dewdney this way – “the sole but fascinating pictograph on a beautiful granite wall: a vertical zigzag of finger-width colour that ended in the head of a Maymaygwayshi.” See Rajnovich for a brief discussion of the pictograph –pp.14, 57,92,137 of Reading Rock Art

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Blindfold Lake – Lake of the Woods (12 km SE of Kenora). See this 1.3 Mb pdf file for basic information and a map.

Blindfold Lake Pictographs

Blindfold Lake Pictograph

Dewdney photo from 1958 – p. 27 of 1st Ed._

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Burditt Lake (aka Clearwater)  –  see Rajnovich pp. 92-97 for discussion. The exact location yet to be determined.  See here for a brief Dewdney discussion of the site and examples of images.

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Cliff Island. Sunset Channel. Lake of the Woods Pictos

Cliff Island (Lake of the Woods) – north side of Sunset Channel/about 30 kilometers from Sioux Narrows. The exact location has not yet been determined  – the western end on the south side of the island seems most likely.  A rabbit man, an animal figure, and other images and markings. Dewdney also mentions a petroglyph site 1/2 mile east of the rock painting site.

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Crowrock Inlet – 25 meters of pictographs, mostly smears along a rock face. More info here

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Cuttle Lake:  two sites – a larger one and a small one about 300 m south  Ontario Archaeology Arch Notes article (pages 6 to 9 ) accessible here has a detailed discussion by Rajnovich.

Cuttle Lake Pictographs - a sample

Cuttle Lake Pictographs

Dewdney photo from 1958  p.61 of IRPGL

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Devil’s Gap Lake in  Turtle Lake Provincial Park – a part of the Turtle River canoe route –  has a “great set of pictographs,” according to Backroads Bill (Bill Steer).  While the lake name does not appear in Federal Government topos or on the Ontario Gov’t topo site,  it may be a name used by locals.  Nearby is what Steer calls a dolmen stone.  See his article here.

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Dryberry Lake  Dewdney recorded two sites on the Lake. Dewdney devotes a page of Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes to a discussion and drawing of what he found.

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Ignace-area:  unnamed Lake – the Smyk site and another. See here for Ontario Archaeological Society’s Arch Notes Sept/Oct 2014 pp 10-11 for Dennis Smyk’s brief report and photo  Google map of the Ignace area and its 1000 lakes here.  Smyk has apparently located some 150 pictograph sites in the Ignace area over the years.

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Jackfish Lake – 1:50,000 topo map of the Lake here;  picto on one of the Lake’s islands. See here for a 2.5 Mb pdf file with images.  For Dewdney’s text, see here.

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Lower Manitou Narrows (Lower Manitou Lake)

Dewdney photo from 1958

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Painted Rock Island – Google map showing where it is in relation to Sioux Narrows  here; also more on location and pic  herealso here

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Picture Rock Point/Western Peninsula (Lake of the Woods) – Dewdney mentions a humble rock painting site found on one of the 100+ points of the Western Peninsula.  His name is Picture Rock Point, which does not appear on the topos.  The pictographs, he writes, are “painted on a thick, rough encrustation of lime, and, except for the human figure, are obscure.” Location – undetermined!

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Portage Bay (Lake of the Woods) – site briefly mentioned by Dewdney -“the equally modest site at Portage Bay, a few miles west of Western Peninsula].” There is another Portage Bay at the north end of the Lake at Keewatin.

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Pukamo Island (Rainy Lake) Rajnovich paper p. 26-31 with drawings; map here;  also a photo.  

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Sabaskong Bay

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Silver Lake

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Teggau Lake (Kenora) – some pix here

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Whitefish Bay – At least a half-dozen sites are recorded in this area. Dewdney’s Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes (pp. 40-53) provides some detail on them and the ones just to the west and north of the Aulneau Peninsula. See here for the Dewdney text.

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Whitefish Bay “Hula-Girl” Island Site – Identified as the “Sioux Narrows” site by Dewdney,  it faces west at the northern end of an unnamed island locally called Hula-Girl about two miles south of Sioux Point. See here for Dewdney’s discussion of the site he listed as #28.

Dewdney. Site #28. Whitefish Bay

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Hula-Girl Island Pictograph Site

See here for the image source at the Tomahawk Resort website

Also, see this Tomahawk Resort post for a couple of pix of the site in wintertime. A reader sent in the exact GPS coordinates – see the Google map here.

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Winnipeg River (near Eagle Bay Road in Kenora) – location here.

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White Otter Lake -See here for the Natural Resources Canada 1:50000 topo 052G04 White Otter Lake.

The Toronto Public Library system’s Central Reference Library has one copy of Jaqueline Rusak’s brief study titled “ThWhitOtter LakPictograph Project:1991 Results”.

A positive review of Rusak’s work in Ontario Archaeology Notes  (1993-1) by Andrew Hinchelwood is accessible online here.

An email from someone who attempted to locate the various sites using the study was much less enthusiastic.  Locations, distances, and site descriptions were apparently often unreliable.

Before finding her study, I had never heard of White Otter as a pictograph site; I  used it to locate the 24 White Otter Lake sites she mentions on the above Garmin Topo Canada map. The email correspondence mentioned above prompted me to reduce the sites to two on Anne Bay, supposedly two of the best, and several on the west side of Big Island. Also noted was his opinion that the Turtle River Park pictograph sites not on the Lake were more impressive.

The 2012 Turtle River-White Otter Lake Park Management Plan refers to Rusak’s study when noting that the park “has documented 39 archaeological sites, 37 pictograph sites (Rusak 1992)”.

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3  Northwestern Region

the lakes and river north of Highway 17 from the Manitoba border to Wawa.

Albany River (Petawanga Lake) – see here for Dewdney, p. 124 for a photo – no exact location is given. We paddled down the long Lake, unaware of the site’s existence and which side it was on.

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Allanwater River (N of Termite Lake)  (Wabakimi) –  see here for a map with the location.

Allanwater River pictograph – caribou

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Barbara Lake – see Dewdney analysis and sketches here (scroll to p. 141-143)

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Bloodvein River – 16 sites in Ontario and Manitoba

Artery Lake – Conway’s Discovering Rock Art (2016) includes a chapter on the main Artery Lake site.

See the following post for lots of images and discussion.  We visited in 2014.

Pictographs On The Bloodvein: The Artery Lake Site

Artery Lake shaman pictograph

Artery Lake shaman – at the main site

Bloodvein River - drawing of pictographs on rock face

Bloodvein River – Dewdney drawings of pictographs at main Artery Lake site

A Google Books chapter (pp.127-133,  with one page missing)  from Hap Wilson’s Trails and Tribulations in which he provides a true believer’s approach to the pictographs.

a minor unrecorded picto site on Artery Lake

The two major Bloodvein sites in Ontario are covered in the two following posts –

Pictographs On The Bloodvein: The Murdock-Larus Site

Pictographs On The Bloodvein: The Artery Lake Site

Bloodvein River (sites from Barclay Lake to Artery Lake) – a map with six sites

Artery Lake (North Arm) – a minor site with a couple of fading pictographs. Dewdney notes this about the site –

pictograph site on Artery Lake – north arm

We did not see the “black sauromorph nearby”!

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shaman holding infant (or medicine bag?)

Bloodvein River between Murdock and Larus …shaman holding infant (or medicine bag?)

Murdock Lake – a part of the Bloodvein River system. Two sites – one at the east end of the Lake, the other about 1.5 km  West from the north end of the Lake on the way to Larus Lake. See here for the minor site and here for the very large one. A fellow blogger also has a couple of pix here.

Minor Murdock Lake picto site – four images: slash marks, canoe, stick figure animal, fish.

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Bluffy Lake – Dewdney: “…includes a turtle, a partly disfigured deer, and two tally marks.”

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Cliff Lake (Pikitigushi River) –

Do not confuse this Cliff lake for the Cliff Lake in Kenora District, something Dewdney did for a decade before realizing his mistake.

See here (pp. 135-141) for Dewdney’s discussion & drawings.

Cliff Lake is also mentioned in this myccr post on Wabakimi pictograph locations.

See my posts on the Cliff Lake Pictographs – two from 2013 and two from 2018.

pictographs from Site #262 Cliff Lake south end

Dewdney's site 119 - the moose image and smudges

Dewdney’s site 119 on Cliff Lake  – the moose image and smudges

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Cochrane River (north of Deer Lake) –

Dewdney discussed his findings here. He includes these two images –

 

 

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Deer Lake (McIntosh Bay) – rabbit (?) picto and “several weathered abstractions.”

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Devil’s Warehouse Island (Lake Superior) –

was a significant source of red ochre (iron oxide or hematite). It became the “paint” used to draw the pictographs when made into a powder mixed with fish oil.

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Dog River (mouth of)  (Lake Superior)

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Donald Lake-Hammerhead Lake

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Donnelly River– 2 sites.

Dewdney: “a major group of paintings…with a smaller site less than a mile away. The paintings appear at the foot of modest rock walls…”

See here for nearby North Caribou Lake cultural landmarks

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Echo Rock (Lake Nipigon) – see below for Lake Nipigon.

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English River (north of Arabi Creek) – See here for the location and drawing of the site.

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Frances Lake (Dogskin River system) – Dewdney discussion and 1964 photo from Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes

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Hansen Lake (Woodland Caribou PP):

Dewdney’s write-up on the site includes sketches and the following 1964 overview photo of the site –

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Harmon Lake (Wabakimi) Brightsand River system  See here for source & location info of the above site on the north side of the bay.  Dewdney would later visit the site and include it (site #151)  in his book’s second edition (1967). No info yet on the site indicated on the opposite shore.

Harmon Lake Pictographs drawing

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Heathcote Lake (Wabakimi) – exact location not known

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Indian Lake: Just east of Mameigwess Lake. See Dewdney’s brief mention and drawings here.

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Lake Nipigon:

Echo Rock – the site is just north of Gull or Kaiashk Bay on the west side of the Lake. It is a towering rock face visible from some distance away.

Echo Rock from the northern tip of Kelvin Island

an overview map and a 1:50000 topo view  This aerial photo of the rock face includes the surrounding Undercliff Mountain that it is a part of.

Scroll to  Dewdney p 78 for an account of his visit to the Echo Rock site/

We paddled by Echo Rock in September of 2018. The following post describes our time looking for pictographs. We saw lots of lichen and graffiti but no pictographs on Echo Rock!

Paddling From Lake Nipigon’s Echo Rock To Waweig Lake

grafitti on Echo Rock face

graffiti at Echo Rock on Lake Nipigon – but no sign of the pictograph!

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Gull (or Kaiashk) Bay see Dewdney p. 78-79 here and map here

In a Down the Gull River Canoe Trip report, Vern Fish mentions visiting one of the sites in Kaiashk Bay and finding graffiti marring the site. He included the following image –

We had a similar experience at the Echo Rock site just north of Kaiashk Bay.

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Orient Bay – see here for the pdf file with a  map and quotes from Dewdney and Morrisseau about the site.

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(Lake Superior) Nipigon Bay  – on the east point across from Red Rock – map here.

Memekweshik. Norval Morrisseau  1974

maymaygweshi image –

 

 

 

 

Maymaygweshiwuk – mythical creatures (small and hairy) associated with rock painting sites and credited for the actual paintings by some Anishinaabe elders. They were believed to live within the rock face itself, and shamans would petition them for requests of medicine, special knowledge,  or other favours  See here for more information.

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Lac Seul

With the construction of the Ear Falls hydro dam (1929-1933), the Lake became a reservoir, and the 700 or so Treaty #3 Ojibwe inhabitants of the Reserve saw a fifth of their lands flooded  (Toronto Star article 2021).

Dewdney includes this paragraph in his Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes

Before it was flooded Lac Seul was one of the paradise lakes of the north, with countless sandy beaches, great stands of white pine, winding creeks, and lush swamps where the wild rice grew thick and thousands of ducks bred. Here were endless miles of browsing for moose, and latterly deer, with depths where great sturgeon and fat lake trout lurked. With the flooding at least five pictograph sites disappeared; and the only clue to what they were like is in the peripheral ones. The Old Copper people were here, and who knows what other wanderers before them. Archaeologically the surface has barely been scratched. (p.66. 1st Ed.)

In 1991 the Lac Seul First Nation was granted $30,000,000  in compensation after taking the government to court.  The F.N. demand for what it considers a more equitable settlement remains an issue in 2021.

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Lake Superior (Worthington Bay) – pictograph image here -trail info here

Lower Wabakimi Lake – site mentioned in Reid/Grand Canoeing Ontario’s Rivers

precise location yet to be determined

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Mackay Lake– top of the Little Steel River system  mentioned by Dewdney as a possibility – no confirmation as of yet

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Mameigwess Lake: The Lake’s name is one of many transliterations of the Ojibwe meymeygweshi, the fairy-like beings who live in the rock face frequented by the shamans. Selwyn Dewdney discusses the Lake on pg 67-69 of his book Indian Rock Paintings. The pictographs are on a small point in the southwest bay of the Lake.

[Note: there is another Kenora District Mameigwess Lake which feeds into the Winisk River system.] On some 1970s MNR material, the name Orangatang is included in brackets. Dewdney mentions the lake name Rangatang in connection with Mameigwess.

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Mooseland Lake: Bill Steer has the definitive article  – All about a bush-whacking, canoe-dragging, fifth-time’s-a-charm back waterway journey. Included is a Google interactive map which shows you how to get there and where to look.   Some 24 different sites or panels were originally recorded by Dennis Smyk.

Along with Cliff Lake on the Pikitigushi River system, it is the most impressive of the rock painting locations in northern Ontario. Fairy Point on Lake Missinaibi is another site that rates a mention as a major site.

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Misehkow River – one site mentioned but location unknown. We looked but didn’t find it!

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Moberley Lake (Brightsand River system) – See here for info source and drawing

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Musclow Lake (off the Bloodvein River system via Barclay Bay)  The Dewdney sketch of the one pictograph at the site is from his Indian Rock Paintings. [2nd. Ed. p.121]

 

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Northern Twin Lake

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Palisade River (Wabakimi) – where the Slim River joins. There is indeed a rock face there, but we paddled right by three times in 2012, not even knowing there was a pictograph or two. The experience was one of my motivations for starting this series of pictograph posts the next year!

See here for a map of four reported pictograph sites near the mouth of the river.

If you find the images on that rock face, send me a jpg of what we missed, and I’ll post it here (if you don’t mind!)  Maybe that orange on the rock face on the left side of the image below is iron oxide!

paddling past the stretch of vertical rock on one side of the Palisade River

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Picture Paint Lake (Kenora) – Dewdney: “only a few smearings and vestigial abstractions”

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Pine Needle Lake –  see here for a couple of pix. Dewdney describes his attempt to find this site in the 1967 2nd edition of Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes (See here for his account).

Pine Needle Lake Pictograph panel

Dewdney sketch of Pine Needle Lake Rock Face

Dewdney sketch of Pine Needle Lake Rock Face

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Red Lake – click on the title for map view; see here for my brief write-up and some photos.

Red Lake picto site

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Rex Lake ( site on a little sliver of a lake west of it)

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Sharpstone Lake –

map here. Dewdney discusses the site here.

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Shikag River

see here for David P. Rogers/Ontario Archaeology source of info.

Shikag River Pictograph Site -

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Roderick Lake – two sites with six small pictos (See Dewdney 115 for details & sketches)

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Telescope Lake – Onnie Lake (nameless Lake in between the two)

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Terrier Lake – exact location unknown; map and Dewdney’s comment

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Wabaskang Lake is just west of Perrault Falls on the road to Red Lake. The precise location of pictograph(s) is not indicated.

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Winnipeg River (near Eagle Bay Road in Kenora) – location here

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Worthington Bay – see Lake Superior (Worthington Bay for info and map)

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Wunnummin Lake – article on archeological work on the Lake here

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4  Northeastern Region

Agawa Rock

I recently uploaded a post on Agawa Rock after our second visit to the site. It has lots of images and some historical background on the various images.

The Anishinaabe Rock Paintings of Agawa Rock

a Parks guard sits by The Agawa Rock Site in Lake Superior Provncial Park

a Parks guard sits by The Agawa Rock Site in Lake Superior Provincial Park

Agawa Rock Panel 3 – “The Wolf’s War Party” Paintings

Mishipizheu pictograph at Agawa Rock

A detailed guide to the pictographs of Agawa Rock and the north shore of Lake Superior is the following book by Thor Conway:

http://thorconway.com/ThorConoway_SpiritsHome.html

A YouTube poster, John Wanserski, has a very well-done nine-minute video of the Agawa Rock pictographs.  It shows the trail to get there from the highway and has great shots of the pictographs and of the Lake. Images of the actual pictographs are introduced by showing drawings of the same images first.  It certainly makes clear the fragile and fading glory of the rock paintings. You can see the YouTube video here.

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Alma Lake – Algoma District – see map hereThe exact location is not determined but is most likely at the west end of the Lake. One pictograph is of a crane footprint, a symbol for one of the five major doodems (totems) or kinship groupings in Ojibwe society.

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Anima-Nipissing Lake (Temagami) – six sites in all. Four sites are identified on Jeff’s Temagami map.

From north to south, they are named:

  1. Anima-Nipissing (ChGx-1) – 3 separate faces or panels, canoe image among them
  2. Shady Grove Picto Site (ChGx-2)
  3. Whitewater Portage (ChGx-3). Zawadska:

    The dome -shaped cliff stands out sharply from the surrounding shore, which is overgrown by trees and bushes. Here as well the images are painted on a lighter -coloured cliff that is streaked with white precipitate deposits.

  4. Greyrock (ChGx-4)

Also, sites reported in

  • 5  Crow Rock Bay, N of Site #1, discovered in 2009
  • 6  Windy Arm, N of Site #3…Zawadska notes that “four oblique lines are depicted.”

The exact locations of 5 and 6 have not yet been confirmed.

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Bigfour Lake – a reported site but exact location not yet determined

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Bolkow Lake (Missinaibi area) – See the Minisaabik website for more context, the roughly indicated location,  and eight images.

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Chiblow Lake – Algoma District – see here for a map of the Lake and its surroundings. Exact location(s) to be determined – lots of vertical shoreline rock to check out!

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Chiniguchi Lakemap; Ottertooth map reference- “rediscovered in 2008.”

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Collins Inlet (Phillip Edward Island) – two Thunderbirds, a war canoe, and more  In June 2016, we visited the site.

See The Ojibwe Rock Paintings of Killarney’s Collins Inlet for more pix, another map, and detailed discussion.

Collins Inlet Picto Site

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Diamond Lake

  • the largest pictograph site in Temagami country.

In October of 2014, my brother and I revisited the site. The following report has some historical background and analysis, as well as lots of photos.

Revisiting Temagami’s Diamond Lake Pictograph Site 

Diamond Lake Pictograph Site

Diamond Lake Pictograph Site

Diamond Lake – moose and vertical lines

Diamond Lake Pictographs – northernmost grouping

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Dog Lake (near Missanabie) –

26 symbols, some very faint,  on 8 panels: many “tally marks,” thunderbirds, crosses, moose, canoe, and figures with bowed legs.

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Ferris Lake 

(formerly known as Little Hawk Lake) –  brief mention by Dewdney. Also mentioned in a post on the Little Hawk Portages. The site is located at the SE corner of the Lake – see the map here.

one of the Ferris Lake pictograph panels

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French River

Selwyn Dewdney (the late 1950s) knew about three sites on the French River – the “Gibraltar” site, the Kennedy Island site, and the site by Recollect Falls. Thor Conway (mid-1980s) has the number at eight.

From north to south, these are the ones I know about –

  1. Gibraltar Point – looked but did not see anything
  2. Kennedy Island – see below for more
  3. Cradle Rapids/aka Keso Point – see below
  4. river right just before Hwy 69 bridge
  5. river right above Recollet Falls

Of the various sites, the Kennedy island site is by far the most impressive. Most of the other sites host a solitary almost-gone drawing.

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French River – Gibraltar Point.

Dewdney writes this about the site:

The paintings on “Gibraltar,” as it is called locally, are badly weathered, and little can be deciphered but a few canoes.

In a mid-80s paper, Nick Adams noted that the site had been defaced by graffiti. Once visible were four canoe images, a stick figure, and other undecipherable and weathered morphs. We looked but did not see what Dewdney saw some 60 years ago. The video below is a short clip of us paddling past “Gibraltar”…

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French River – Kennedy Island 

See here for an early 1980s paper by Nick Adams and the source of the drawing below.

Kennedy Island Pictograph Site

Dewdney drawing of the Kennedy I pictos

Dewdney has a short summary of the Kennedy Island site:

 Site #80, a bare half mile west of Keystone Lodge, is in clear, strong pigment. Only the thunderbird, turned on its side, is somewhat obscured by lichen. The stick figures remind us of those at Diamond and Scotia Lakes. Among the others are a canoe, a pig-like bear, and a likely fish.

He visited the Recollet Falls site in 1958 and the two upper French sites the following year  See here for my annotated version of Dewdney, pp. 92-94.

Thor Conway’s Discovering Rock Art has a chapter on the Kennedy island pictographs (pp. 103-126).

We visited the site in 2019 – the following post has maps and images –

Canoeing The French River From Top To Bottom: Day 3 – From Canoe Pass To Below The Portage Channel Dam

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French River (Cradle Rapids/Keso Point)

See this pdf file for more info and sources on the site.

Thanks to the picto site’s Keso Point name, we assumed the rock painting site was on river left and paddled down on that side – and, of course, found nothing. Apparently, a second pictograph has recently been discovered nearby.

Cradle Rapids pictograph site – indeterminant figure & round smudge – photo courtesy of Paul Kirtley

See here for a map of the exact location on river right.

Our canoe trip post – French River Top To Bottom: Day 3 – has more discussion of the site and the various interpretations of the images.

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French River – just above the Highway 69 bridge on the north side of the river – a human figure, perhaps an animal image, and a couple of lines. The exact location is not confirmed yet.  “Just above” makes it sound closer to the road than to the cove and marina.

As we paddled down the river, the current carried us at a 15 km/hr. clip.  There was no chance of stopping above Hwy 69 or before Recollet Falls to look for almost-gone pictographs! A wintertime visit on snowshoes might be the answer for this site and the one below near Recollet Falls.

I do wonder if the site was impacted by the recent bridge construction.

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French River – Recollet Falls – just above the falls on the north side, about 1 km from the highway bridge  Dewdney notes the faint painting of “a small human figure and one other vague mark.”

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Granary Lake – Algoma District – see here for general location. The site’s location is not yet determined, but the Lake’s west shore is the most likely.

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Killarney Bay – see here for the story of the pictographs’ recent origins. I include quotes from Dewdney (1962) and an Ontario Government Geological Survey (the early 1980s). See the image to the right for a pictograph panel which Dewdney says is a “site near Killarney Bay.” It is unclear if this is the one he and the Ontario Government Survey are referring to.

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Lake Superior – Worthington Bay  A few images, including the Thunderbird below.

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Lake Temagami

From 3 to 13 to 22!

  • Selwyn Dewdney, relying on local informants like George Turner of Bear Island, visited three sites on Lake Temagami sites on his 1959 visit: the Bear Island site and the site on the NW arm. At the third site on an island, the pictograph was apparently no longer there!
  • In the 1980s, Thor and Julie Conway were able to increase the total to 13.
  • In 2013, Dagmara Zawadzka (see below for her report) listed 22 pictograph sites on Lake Temagami.

The 22 sites are numbered from north to south on the following two maps:

The map above is a section of the Friends of Temagami Planning Map  Jeff’s Temagami Map also shows the site locations; He probably transferred the info from the Planning Map.

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The Pictograph Study To Read: 

A detailed study entitled “Beyond the Sacred: Temagami Area Rock Art and Indigenous Routes in Ontario Archaeology (2013) by Dagmara Zawadzka is the best single source of information about pictograph sites in the Temagami area. A map with site locations, specific site overviews, and Borden numbers add to the paper’s usefulness. If the above link is dead, try here.  

Zawadzka lists the 22 sites by their Borden numbers  [ See here ]. I’ve put them in alphabetical order; I was unable to identify the locations of 6 of the sites. More research on nearby archaeological sites with almost-similar Borden numbers may help me fill in the missing data.  Check back in a month or two!

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Lake Temagami – Baie JeanneJeff’s map has one location; Zawadska lists two sites.

Lake Temagami – Bear IslandJeff’s Temagami Map has two locations. Dewdney gives this account in Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes –

George Turner’s Bear Island site
revealed only a barely discernible
triangle and a few tally marks. (92)

Lake Temagami – Deer Island  Zawadska writes:

The site is easily spotted thanks to the widespread white precipitate on the rock. The images, which consist of crosses and smears, are barely visible against the background.

Lake Temagami – Doorstep …unclear which site is being referred to

Lake Temagami – Granny Bay …unclear which site is being referred to

Lake Temagami – Little Bear …unclear which site is being referred to

Lake Temagami – Low Rock …unclear which site is being referred to

Lake Temagami – North Arm  Jeff’s map shows two sites at the south end of the arm across from Racoon Point.

Lake Temagami (North West Arm) – See here for a brief Dewdney description along with the relevant bit of Jeff’s Temagami map. There are two sites just before the narrows to Obabika Inlet. We camped there one rainy night in October and could not find anything. Send me a jpg if you do!

Lake Temagami (Mattias) – a site recently (1998) pointed out by Alex Mattias to Serge Lamaitre and discussed in this Serge Lemaitre report – Des peintures et des offrandes:Recherches récentes en art rupestre de l’Ontario (2008)

Lake Temagami – Obabika Inlet  Jeff’s map does not have this one; it appears on Zawadska’s list.

Lake Temagami – Portage Bay  Jeff’s map indicates two sites in the vicinity of the Bay.

Lake Temagami – Racoon Bay …two sites on the Zawadska list, but unclear which are being referred to

Lake Temagami – Sealrock Point  – Jeff’s map locates a site just south of the point.

Lake Temagami – Sharp Rock Inlet –  one site indicated on Jeff’s map.

Lake Temagami – Shoal Bay …unclear which site is being referred to

Lake Temagami – Turtleshell …unclear which site is being referred to

Lake Temagami – Water’s Bay area. two sites indicated on Jeff’s map

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Little Missinaibi Lake

Little Missinaibi Lake – a map with four sites here. The Chrismar map Missinaibi 1 indicates the location of the sites, as does Hap Wilson’s canoe tripper’s guide to the Missinaibi River.

Little Missinabi Lake Picto Site #1 - the Pothole

Little Missinaibi Lake Pictograph Site #1 – the Pothole

Little Missinaibi Lake – Picto Site #3 – one of the many panels

See my post, The Pictographs of Little Missinaibi Lake, for an in-depth look with maps and references to Selwyn Dewdney’s late 1950s and Thor Conway’s mid-1980s work on the sites. A  June 2017 visit by my brother and me resulted in lots of photos. While the Grave Bay site remains unconfirmed, thanks to directions provided by a reader of this post, we did see another minor site on the way to Eagle Island from Grave Bay. The above post has all the details.

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Longpoint Lake ( about 14 km east of Gowganda) – 2 sites recorded, exact locations unconfirmed  One image is of a standing human.

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Mannajigama Lake (Temagami) – site confirmed but not the location  NRC topo of the Lake here

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Matachewan LakeDewdney’s account here

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Matagamasi Lake – is the “second-largest site in Temagami,” according to an Ottertooth map note. This  Sudbury Star article by Jim Moodie has some detail.  [The Diamond Lake site is the largest site.]

If this site is the second largest, that would make all other “sites” in the area single or two-image sites, However, the Matabitchuan site (if one includes the images on the salvaged rock slab) has at least a half-dozen ochre marks and images.

Matagamasi pictographs

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Matabitchuan River  The image below shows the most recognizable pictograph at the site these days. There are also three possibly human-shaped figures and some other indecipherable ones.

Matabichuan River Pictograph

Also, this Thor Conway article – Temagami Rock Art rescued – in Ontario Archaeology’s Arch Notes (1980-2) recounts the discovery of the pictographs and the decision to remove the salvaged piece of rock from the site.

A series of red ochre pictographs on the Matabitchuan River in the Temagami district of northern Ontario was rediscovered in 1976. John Kendrick, a Ministry of Natural Resources planner, saw a brightly coloured rock painting while studying the Matabitchuan River’s resources. His report brought the author to the site for preliminary recording.

Also found was a rock slab which had broken off from the rock face. As Conway writes:

Included in Conway’s brief report was an illustration of the three images on the salvaged slab,  which is now on display on Lake Temagami’s Bear Island.

Matabitchuan pictographs on a slab now on display on Bear Island

This 2021 CBC article describes its return “home” after being missing all these years!

The site is not one that Selwyn Dewdney was informed about on his visit to the Lake Temagami area.  While George Turner of Bear Island did take Dewdney to three sites he knew of on Lake Temagami – the Bear Island site and the NW Arm site, and one island site at which the pictograph had surprisingly been removed – he was unaware of the other twenty sites on the lake or those on nearby lakes like Obabika and Anima-Nipissing and rivers like the Matabitchuan.

Ernest Voorhis researched and wrote the  Canadian Government publication Historic Forts and Trading Posts of the French Regime and of the English Fur Trading Companies (1930) (p.274). He was also a cottager on Lake Temagami. He would have heard the then-current local explanation for the origin of the pictographs in the region – i.e. that they were done by an invading Iroquois war party in the 1660s. Second Chief Alec Paul provided G.F. Speck with the same explanation of the pictographs’ origins in 1913 during Speck’s Bear Island visit.

Jeff’s Temagami map has the site indicated.

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Mattawa River (Porte de l “Enfer) – cave site with exposed hematite veins. One of the two major ochre sites mined by the Anishinaabe to make their pictograph “paint.” The other significant site was Devil’s Warehouse Island on Lake Superior.

Porte de L’Enfer on the Mattawa River – Wikipedia-sourced image here

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Missinaibi Lake:

Our June 2017 visit to three of the four confirmed Missinaibi Lake sites resulted in the following post –

The Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of Missinaibi Lake.

Missinaibi Lake (Fairy Point) –  The six pages from Dewdney’s Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes dealing with Missinaibi can be accessed here in pdf format (1.9Mb). Fairy Point is the premier pictograph site in all of NE Ontario.

See the Minisaabik website for yet more context and a dozen images from the site.

Fairy Point’s most well-known pictograph panel

Selwyn Dewdney  Drawing of Fairy Point’s Main Panel (Face iX)

Fairy Point’s second major pictograph panel – Moose and White Crosses

Moose and Stars Panel at Fairy Point

evening light on one section of Fairy Point’s vertical rock face.

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Missinaibi Lake (Whitefish Bay) – See The Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of Missinaibi Lake for details and images. The Minisaabik websitealso provides more context and a few images.

Missinaibi Lake’s Whitefish Bay pictograph rock face

Whitefish Bay – animal figure and canoe

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Missinaibi Lake (Reva Point) – see The Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of Missinaibi Lake for more information and more images. See also the Minisaabik website for more context and five images.

the Reva Point Pictograph Site on Lake Missinaibi

Reva Point pictograph panel

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Missinaibi Lake (Mary Island) – the site was discovered in 2015, but I don’t have the exact location  See here for a map of the general location and access from Barclay Bay. See also the Minisaabik website for more context and five images, one an overview of the site and five which focus on specific images.

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Mica Bay (south of Agawa)map and  Dewdney write-up

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Ninth Lake – see Spanish River.

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Obabika Lake

An Ethno-Archaeological Study of Algonkian Rock Art in Northeastern Ontario, Canada by Thor Conway and Julie Conway… a 25-page report published in Ontario Archaeology in 1989 and based on research done in 1981 and 1984. They note that –

Nearly one-third of the 77 Obabika Lake pictographs are too faint to categorize. The majority of the 50 preserved paintings show a variety of motifs with many abstract designs (Table 6). Human forms and canoes are rare, but animals are more common.

Their study includes an overview map which locates five sites. While the Conways’ accounts of each site follow, the report has much more detail and b&w images.

From north to south, the sites are –

North Rock

A single painting was discovered on a medium-sized cliff situated on the northeast end of Obibaka Lake (Table 5) (Fig. 17). It is difficult to observe the pictograph, which is not protected by an over-hang. Very close examination reveals an animal, apparently an abstractly depicted cervid, such as a moose or caribou (Fig. 18). The two short lines emanating from its chest are unusual attributes.

Mystery Rock

A few rock paintings occur on a cliff near the north end of Obabika Lake on its eastern shore. The Mystery Rock site is located just north of a series of small islands and a gravel point (Fig. 13). Four panels are present and they are concentrated toward the north end of the cliff (Table 4).

Obabika Lake pictograph sites – south end

Devil’s Ledge:

A very unusual rock art site is situated at the north end of a small cove, half a kilometre north of the Shining Rock site. The Devil’s Ledge pictograph site is located on the ceiling of a small rock shelter found near the shoreline (Fig. 10). The ceiling lies 3.3 metres above the water. Ten of the 17 paintings at Devil’s Ledge are well preserved (Table 3). The ceiling group includes a rare painting of a possible flying human figure portrayed in X-ray style (Fig. 11). I

Shining Rock:

The outcrop starts at a northward point of land and extends south for 70 metres (Fig. 2). There are four painted rock panels containing 30 pictographs (Table 1), many of which are faint and difficult to observe in bright light due to the white colour of the rock. Various panels hold a canoe, a thunderbird, tally marks, and other abstract motifs.

Obabika Lake:

A small rock art site is located just over half a kilometre south of the Shining Rock site on the west shore of Obabika Lake. A series of clearly preserved paintings and smeared red ochre designs occur under a protective overhang at the base of a cliff and large talus slope (Fig. 8). This site is located on the largest rock exposure on the lake. Despite the huge blocks of rock talus, only one panel of art was discovered. Although deliberately protected by an overhang, many of the 11 paintings are poorly preserved

Obabika Inlet 2 site – noted by Zawadska with Obabika Lake given as the location while Obabika Inlet 1 Pictograph site is located in the Inlet on the other side of the portage from Obabika Lake.

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Quirke Lake, Algoma District– map here and related quote on Rooster Rock & Thunder Mountain here

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Scotia Lake:

The Lake is the headwaters of the Wanapitei river system, a tributary of the French River  Dewdney’s Indian Rock Paintings has some details on the pictographs. See here for the text. Included is this image of one of the pictographs:

a possible human figure with what Dewdney calls a “rayed head”

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Serpent River – the mouth of.  Not a pictograph site but two-horned serpent figures created by scratching away the black lichen. First reported in 1800 by fur trader Daniel Harmon.  See Thor Conway’s article here in Arch Notes 1985 (March/April issue).

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Spanish River (Ninth Lake) – pictographs here  Thor Conway’s Discovering Rock Art (2016) has a chapter on this site. He discusses 17 images in three different groupings, including the central panel with its Thunderbird, vertical line, series of five dots, snake, and perhaps an animal image above the canoe with the unusual Y-shaped figure in the middle.

Spanish River (Ninth Lake) pictographs

Spanish River (Ninth Lake) pictographs

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Stouffer Lake (Temagami) – one or two sites on the east side of the Lake.

  • See here for the Ottertooth map, which locates a site to the south of the large island;
  • Brian Back write-up of the site here.
  • See here for Jeff’s Map site situated across from the northern tip of the large island.

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Upper Grassy Lake – See here for the Dewdney account of his visit to two sites on the Lake.

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Wabus Creek – site reported by Luke Dalla Bona in 2001. The exact location is not yet confirmed.

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Wakimika Lake – N of Obabika Lake

Petroglyph site on an island – a Bill Steer article Petroglyphs – Temagami’s Rare Works of Art on Northern Ontario Travel website  A couple of images are included in the write-up. This is one of them –  a standing human figure, a Thunderbird, a turtle?

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Wizard Lake – “near Gogama, a km drive off highway 144 and 2 km paddle.” The Minissabik website, an excellent source for pictographs in NE Ontario,  has 10 photographs of various rock images at the site, including the following panel, which is also on the cover of a Thor Conway book:

the middle section of the main panel – Thunderbirds done in two different styles

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Yorston River (Temagami) – also see here for access info.

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5  Southern Region

Bon Echo – see under Mazinaw Lake

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Brockville – two very minor sites, one in Brockville – the Fulford Site –  and the other 7 km up the St. Lawrence River at Brockville Narrows/Hillcrest. See here for Herb Sheridan’s brief article on the Brockville pictographs. He is the one who showed Dewdney the Brockville Narrows site back in 1964.

 

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Grand Lake (Algonquin Park) – also here for an image and discussion. The site is sometimes referred to as Carcajou Bay. Check out the  Topo Map view or a Jeff’s Map view.

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Mazinaw Lake:

Upper Mazinaw Lake: the location of the majority of the pictograph panels. See my post –  The Pictographs of Mazinaw Rock: Listening For Algonquian Echoes – for a map of the Lake – Upper and Lower – and the location of the pictograph panels.

Mazinaw Rock - Dewdney's Face II

Mazinaw Rock – Dewdney’s Face II – canoe and a Mishipeshu figure or two?

Pp 95-100 of Selwyn Dewdney’s Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes has a discussion of the site. A pdf file just of these pages can be downloaded here.

In May of 2015, my brother and I spent a couple of days on Mazinaw Lake. We created a post with pix, maps, and included Dewdney’ssketches to create a fairly comprehensive guide to the site. Click here to access The Pictographs of Mazinaw Rock: Listening For Algonquian Echoes.

Mazinaw Rock’s Rabbit man panel

Lower  Mazinaw Lake – Dewdney identified a site with three faces about 1 mile south of the main (Upper) Mazinaw Lake site and its twenty-seven faces and 135 individual morphs or pictographs.

typical Mazinaw pictograph panel

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Petroglyph Provincial Park –

not pictographs, but Ontario’s largest indigenous rock carving site  See here for a surprising negative assessment of the efforts to protect it.

In May of 2015, my brother and I spent a couple of hours at the site. The result was this post –

The Peterborough Petroglyphs – Building Over An Ancient Algonquian Ritual Site

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Rock Lake (Algonquin Provincial Park)

A 720 kb pdf file with maps and info from various sources can be accessed hereFor a Bill Mason painting of the pictograph site cliffs, see here.

rock lake - Nanabush figure?

perhaps a Nanabush figure at Rock Lake

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Sparrow Lake Petroglyph Site

Sparrow Lake (Pope Petroglyph Site) – Borden BeGu-4.  Note: not painted images, but images carved into the rock.  Map here. Access Archaeological Services Inc.(ASI) report from Feb. 1994 hereThe petroglyph site is discussed on pp.36-37. Not stated is where it was relocated to.

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St. Lawrence River (see Brockville above)

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As you’ve noticed,  much more work still needs to be done – and sites to be located – before this is truly comprehensive. Any information – pix, locations, whatever – that you’re willing to share with fellow paddlers via this post would be greatly appreciated  Credit will, of course, be given – or not, depending on your preference.

Email me at  true_north@mac.com

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Grace Rajnovich

To get a handle on the meaning of the pictographs and the motivation of those who drew them on the stone  Reading Rock Art by Grace Rajnovich is your best bet  I ordered my paper copy from Amazon in mid-2013  It is also available as a digital download.

essential reading _____________________________

Thor Conway

Thor Conway’s website has a gallery (here) with pictograph images, mainly from Ontario sites.   Also accessible at the site are sample chapters from his various books. Titles like Discovering Rock ArtSpirits on Stone, and Painted Dreams are clues that you’re in the right place. I got copies of Discovering Rock Art and Spirits On Stone directly from the author using the contact info on the website.

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Bob Henderson

Google Books has almost an entire chapter from Bob Henderson’s Every Trail has A Story: Heritage Travel in Canada  Chapter 10 (Rock Art: A Lifelong Quest and Mystery). Scroll back to p.149 for the beginning of the chapter. Henderson provides detail on three particular sites – the two Ontario sites of McCarthy Bay and Cliff Lake and the Hickson-Maribelli Lakes site in Saskatchewan.

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Serge Lemaitre/Valerie Decart

An 2008 article entitled Des peintures et des offrandes: Recherches récentes en art rupestre de l’Ontario by Serge Lemaitre and Valerie Decart is available on the érudit website.  Click here to read their study based on the following Ontario sites:

  • the Nipigon River;
  • Worthington Bay;
  • Devil’s Warehouse Island;
  • Upper Grassy Lake;
  • Gros Cap;
  • Chiblow Lake;
  • Lake Temagami; and
  • Matachewan Lake.

Click here for a Google map of the various locations.

The article concludes with a helpful bibliography.  You will be reading the article in French or using Google Translate. One new word in my vocabulary is the word rupestre, which turns out to be the word used in French instead of the English “pictograph” or “rock painting.” The Google translator confusingly translates it as “cave.”

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The Quetico Foundation

The Quetico Foundation website (before its redesign in 2014) had a page entitled About Quetico Park – Native Pictographs”.  Among the facts found was the number of sites – 28 – in the Park.  Another noteworthy bit of information was this statement –

In respect of the values and beliefs of the Elders of Lac La Croix First Nation related to the sacred nature of native pictographs, The Quetico Foundation has agreed to remove all photographic images of the pictographs from our Web site. In addition, as Foundation publications such as our Canoe Routes Map and brochure are updated and reprinted pictograph photographs will be removed.        

Check out the new page here.  While there is still mention of the 28 pictograph sites, the paragraph above has disappeared. Here is the toned-down “rewrite” to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary  –

Aboriginal peoples have lived in this region for thousands of years. In fact, 28 Aboriginal pictographs can still be sighted in the Park. For many Anishinaabe at Lac La Croix, these pictographs and their locations are sacred. To protect and respect this land, we’re deeply honored to work with and learn from the Lac La Croix First Nation.

While we are told how honoured the foundation is to work with the La Croix First Nation, the rewrite has deleted the “how.” Note the incorrect reference to 28 pictographs; it should read “28 pictograph sites” since many of the sites have more than one pictograph  And while Aboriginals may well have lived in the area for thousands of years, the consensus is that the Anishinaabe arrived perhaps three to five hundred years ago and displaced people who previously lived there.

This misguided Quetico Foundation approach is based on the same attitude that would have shut Norval Morrisseau down before he could develop into one of Canada’s great artists by drawing from his Anishinaabe cultural heritage.

You’ve just got to laugh when you realize it was for the Quetico Foundation that the University of Toronto Press published Dewdney’s book, which established the systematic study of those pictographs! Clearly, times have changed.

We would know very little of these entry points to Anishinaabe culture were it not for the efforts to catalogue, analyze,e and understand the pictographs by the many people listed here. An essential part of the study involves getting a visual record – i.e. sketching and taking photographs. These images will be all that is left to contemplate in a few generations as the already-smeared and fading pictographs are gone forever.

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Selwyn Dewdney and Norval Morrisseau

I recently upped a post entitled Selwyn Dewdney, Norval Morrisseau, and the Ojibway Pictograph Tradition  Morrisseau himself had to grapple with the issue of whether pictographs – or aspects of Anishinaabe culture in general – should be shared with outsiders.

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My Other Pictograph Posts:

Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of the Canadian Shield

Aboriginal Pictograph Sites In Quebec

Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites In Ontario, as well as specific posts on

Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites In Manitoba

Indigenous Pictograph Sites In Saskatchewan

American Indian Pictograph Sites of the Border States

The above posts deal with pictographs “painted” with a hematite powder/fish oil mix.

The post below details perhaps the Canadian Shield’s most extensive collection of petroglyphs – i.e. images carved into the rock face.

The Peterborough Petroglyphs: Building Over An Algonkian Ritual Site

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28 Responses to Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites In Ontario

  1. Dave Cassibo says:

    I’ve seen the Pics on the shoreline rock at Jackfish Lake, NW of Fort Frances, I was looking for history of the art when I found your page. Beautiful.

    • true_north says:

      Dave, there are so many sites listed that I myself have never been to that I had to check to see if Jackfish Lake was there! I notice that I have not even provided a map of the lake, let alone the location of the pictographs on the lake. I’ll provide a link to a map soon. In the meanwhile, if you’ve got any photos of the pictos you’d like to share, I’d be happy to include them in my post!

      Thanks for looking – it has only been a year since I immersed myself in the topic of the rock paintings. It has provided another motivation to slip that canoe into some river in northern Ontario and see more of the pictographs myself. This summer my bro and I are paddling down the Bloodvein River from Red lake to Lake Winnipeg; one of the highlights will be the dozen Ojibwe rock painting sites we will paddle by.

      • Donny petiquan says:

        Wabauskang Lake in N.W. Ontario has pictographs that aren’t listed and which only a few people probably know about.

      • true_north says:

        Donny, thanks.

        I just did a search for Wabauskang Lake and came up empty.

        I used the following web site – http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/toporama

        I did take the “u” out and came up with Wabaskang Lake, which fits the bill. It is on the road to Red Lake near Perrault Falls. If you have an exact location, let me know and I can add it to the map.

        Thanks again for your interest and for taking the time to share your knowledge.

  2. Loneranger says:

    Have you seen the ones on the Winnipeg River near Eagle Bay Road?

    • true_north says:

      Loneranger, Thanks for the heads up.

      Are you referring to the Kenora area in your reference to the Winnipeg River near Eagle Bay Road? Since I only started obsessing about pictographs about a year ago, I have not really seen all that many of them. Cliff Lake above Lake Nipigon last summer was the most impressive site I have seen so far. This summer my brother and I are paddling the Bloodvein from Red Lake to Lake Winnipeg and expect to visit a dozen pictograph sites. As for the one you mention, if you’ve got a pic you’d be willing to share – or a more exact location – send it this way and I will insert in the post.

      • Kim Loranger says:

        I will email you some pictures we took of the paintings when I return to Kenora ontario in the spring of 2015..Your map doesn’t show the correct location..The paintings are due North of Brown’s island on a protected historical site.

      • true_north says:

        Sounds good. I’ll be happy to post the pix when you email them. I did check out the topo and found brown’s island. Send me the correct location if you want and I’ll correct it.

  3. bill petry says:

    I have a b&w photo from The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto of a pictograph from Burditt Lake and would like to send it to you to see if you have a color pix or know where it is located.

    • true_north says:

      Bill, I looked the Dewdney’s 1962 edition of Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes (https://archive.org/details/indianrockpainti00dewd) and Burditt Lake is not mentioned.

      It is possible that the second edition of his work (1967) includes a description of the site but I do not have a copy of that book available.

      Re: sending the image to me. What you might do is take a digital photo of it and send the jpg file to true_north@mac.com I certainly would like to see it!

      Chances are it is a copy of a photo taken by Dewdney. I will do a bit of research on Burditt lake and see what I can come up with.

      Thanks for the information.

      • ed carlson says:

        I have stopped and looked at this post many times, very interesting

      • true_north says:

        Ed, lots of stuff to see for sure. I am still going through Dewdney’s book and adding sites. Our recent visit to Mazinaw Rock and Petroglyphs Park gave us even more to look at. Hopefully this summer you’ll get a chance to visit one or two of the sites too!

    • bill petry says:

      the image in question is from Rajnovich fig77

      • true_north says:

        Ah – the Rajnovitch book I’ve got!

        I’ll dig it out and take a look. She may also have written an article about the Burditt Lake site which will provide more info.

        Stay tuned!

      • true_north says:

        Bill, I just googled Burditt Lake and got a reference to my own post on the pictographs of Ontario! Huh? So I went back and there it was – clearly I have not had enough coffee yet!

        Burditt Lake is indeed listed and there is a map but no exact location known (to me). I’ll see what else I can find. The lake is about 12 kilometres from end to end – a lot of shoreline!

  4. tom jan and dustin says:

    My wife. my son and myself started collecting photos of pictos a few years back. We’ve been to several lakes and have come across many pics not mentioned anywhere that we can see.

    Two lakes for sure and one that is mentioned but we found several pics not mentioned. One my son spotted about 30 or so feet up a cliff which he climbed and took a fantastic photo of and we’ve been looking and wondering what to do with it (them).

    We’ve respectfully left tobacco at ALL sights and lakes we visit. The one foto my son took would truly make an amazing book cover. It’s a rare one in the fact that it faces north. I could go on and on. Lol

    • true_north says:

      Tom, you’ve had good luck in paddling by these pictographs unknown to others. I am assuming that they are located here in Ontario though you provide no specific lake names or pictograph descriptions! Perhaps you wish to keep the knowledge of the various sites to yourself – nothing wrong with that. This will allow other people in years to come to experience the same thrill of stumbling upon something known to a few.

      If you haven’t already, check out Selwyn Dewdney’s Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes – the second edition – for the most complete treatment of Ontario pictographs. The book is fifty years old but contains most of them. Your picto sites may be included in his list.

      You could do what I have done and create a post with the images and perhaps even the locations so that fellow paddlers will have a heads up on what side of the river or lake to paddle down. You note that you “could go on and on” – creating a post would provide you with the platform to do so!

      If you want to send me the digital images, I could incorporate them into my post on Ontario pictos, with or without the locations and with or without credit being given – your choice. I could even help you set up a WordPress post in your name if you want.

      Thanks – It is always good to hear from someone taken by the Anishinaabe ochre images and marks they paddle by.

  5. Steven Kozma says:

    Thank you for this page! I am happy that I came across it as I have been trying to find some history on the pictographs we’ve found on the Sturgeon River, just west of Sturgeon Lake. Technically, the pictographs in question are between “Threebay Lake” and “Fourbay Lake” on the Sturgeon River. Here is a link to their approximate location (+/- 10 meters on the river): https://www.google.com/maps/dir//50.0889008,-90.9065761/@50.0861774,-90.9067383,14.67z

    They are located on the north side of the river in two sections. For about two decades we always thought it was just a discoloration of the rock, until we got close up and clearly saw the hand print. Keep in mind, a majority of it is heavily chipped, which makes me wonder how old it might be.

    full site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kozmichammer/28992378550/in/album-72157672732582645/

    Close up 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kozmichammer/29280722495/in/album-72157672732582645/

    Color Enhancement: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kozmichammer/29172282082/in/album-72157672732582645/

    Close up 2: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kozmichammer/29246601556/in/album-72157672732582645/

    Directly overhead from the pictograph, you’ll see what is called “Table Rock”, which is a large boulder sitting atop smaller rocks. Most likely having occurred naturally, but interesting nevertheless: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kozmichammer/29280552535/in/album-72157672732582645/

    Possible Second Site (20 meters East of above): https://www.flickr.com/photos/kozmichammer/29172313442/in/album-72157672732582645/

    I’ve tried to find other references to these pictographs and haven’t come across any yet. If you know of anything you can direct me to or their meaning, please let me know. I’m happy to talk further if you’d like also.

    Thanks,
    Steve

  6. Tom Jeffery says:

    Have you seen the pictos at Pictured Lake, outside of Thunder Bay? I would be happy to take you and your brother as thanks for your wonderful trip reports.

    • true_north says:

      Tom, thanks for the offer! I’ve never been to that particular site – or to most of the ones I’ve catalogued! My obsession only dates back four years!

      If you live in or near T’Bay you are on the doorstep of some incredible canoeing possibilities. We’ve done the 18-hour drive up from T.O. five times in the past seven years! Maybe we passed you on the highway as you were driving to Temagami or Algonquin Park for your canoe trip! Our bit of the Canadian Shield does not lack for canoe tripping choice!

      The Pictured Lake site is the one that provided Selwyn Dewdney with the front cover of his book! If you’ve got any photos you’d be willing to let me use in my pictograph post, let me know!

      • Anonymous says:

        I will gladly send you some pictures of the Pictured Lake site as soon as I get out there again. Lake Superior is open, but the inland lakes are still froze solid!

        I’ve been canoe tripping for only a few years and have been lucky to have already done the Steel (twice), Kopka, Black Sturgeon (twice), as well as many smaller, less-known rivers. This year will hopefully have us on the Gull (not in Minden) and the Bloodvein.

        We are definitely very fortunate to have all of these rivers so close to home. It sure makes the shuttling a lot easier.

      • true_north says:

        Some beautiful rivers on your resumé – and a great line-up for this summer too! Re: the Gull. If you haven’t googled your way to Ken Kokanie’s website yet, check out his trip report on the Gull – http://kokanie.ca/gull-river-canoe-route

        It was his excellent write-ups that first got me doing up one of our canoe trips back in 2010 though I still haven’t managed to do them quite like he does!

        Are you going to paddle right into Gull Bay? I ask because I understand that thee some pictograph sites out there – and maybe on the river too. Echo Rock sounds like a dramatic spot to paddle by.

        My bro and I are revisiting the Fairy Point pictographs on Missinaibi Lake after paddling down Little Missinaibi Lake and checking out the rock painting sites there. We figure to spend nine or ten days including the ride up from southern Ontario and back.

        Happy paddling! We’ll compare notes at the end of the season!

  7. Garry Paget says:

    Dear “Ramblin’ Boy”, I only discovered your wonderful site, in the recent past, when I began my research on the pictographs at Fairy Point on Missinaibi Lake in the Chapleau Crown Game Reserve.

    I had spent the summers of 1967-68 with L&F as a JR and SR, on Missinaibi and Wrong Lakes. I also canoed Little “Miss” that first summer as well. Is it possible you might contact me? Thank you. Garry

    • true_north says:

      Garry, your Missinaibi memories go back a bit further than mine – by a decade and more! I hope you have been back for a return visit in the meanwhile. As requested, I’ll send you an email!

      • Garry Paget says:

        I’m just happy that I can remember that far back!! I’ve returned on 3 occasions…1975 & 1976 are two of them…still searching the catacombs for the 3rd date!! lol That was the best summer of my life…bar none!

  8. chamberlin colin says:

    Good day. I would appreciate updates of the Quebec petroglyph sites; an earlier post shows a map and a list but thats it. Very sad about Dr Arsenault.

    • true_north says:

      Colin, I wrote that post on Quebec pictograph sites a few years ago and have updated it on occasion. I think I have noted most of the sites though a few more may have been found since then. The fact is that Quebec is not especially rich in pictograph sites. It is neighbouring Ontario, espcially northwestern Ontario from Lake Nipigon to the Manitoba border, that is the place to go. Instead of Quebec’s 10 or 15 it has 500!

      If you stumble upon information on any more Quebec sites in your research, do let me know and I will update my post.

  9. Pingback: Matthew Thomson | Inarte Journal

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