Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites In Ontario

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Some Major Ontario Pictograph Locations

Some Major Ontario Pictograph Locations

Any of the following Ontario locations would provide a great introduction to Anishinaabe  rock paintings:

Quetico Provincial Park

Lake of the Woods/Rainy Lake region 

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) 

Click on any of the above locations in blue to access the related post.

Ojibwe-controlled land in the early 1800's

N.B. The terms Ojibway, Ojibwe, and Chippewa all refer to the same First Nations culture belonging to the larger Algonquian-speaking people who know themselves as Anishinaabe.  You will note a variety of spellings for all these names as you check out other sources!

the front cover of a classic

Selwyn Dewdney is the man most responsible for the systematic tracking down, recording, and analysing the Anishinaabe pictographs of Ontario. By 1967 and the second edition of his book Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes  he had recorded 264 different sites, many in Ontario with the most of the others  in Manitoba and Minnesota. (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.

Since the first edition covers only the first 102 sites Dewdney visited, it does not include his return to the Bloodvein River system or his discovery of the Cliff Lake site on the Pikitigushi (formerly the Mud) River system.  However, it is still a great introduction to his work. Hard copies of the book are difficult to come by so an easily available first edition is great news.   

The following fifty-year-old Dewdney maps show clearly that the heart of Ontario 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 Creat Lakes map – east section

Indian Rock Paintings of the Canadian Shield map - west part

Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes map – west part

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 Conway and his wife Julie began their study of traditional Ojibwa culture, and specifically the rock paintings found in the Ontario part of the boreal Shield country.  Over the years they have published a number of articles and books on their archeological work.

Recently (fall 2016) an updated edition of Discovering Rock Art: A Personal Journey With Tribal Elders was released.  It provides excellent detail on a dozen different 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.  He summarizes his approach this way in the preface –

The voices of the Ojibwa elders illuminate 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).  See here for a list of the chapter headings  and the specific sites he examines.


To make sites a bit easier to find, I  have divided the province into the five following regions, with  Highway 17 the northern limit of 1 and 2.  Quetico got the #1 spot given its early importance in Dewdney’s two-decade-long quest!

major-ontario-pictograph-locations

Please note – While I have visited a few of the sites mentioned in this post, for the most part I am drawing from fairly meagre sources (online and at the Toronto Reference Library), as well as 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   


1. Quetico Area

Quetico Master Map with forty sites indicated – kml file in my Dropbox folder here. It can be opened by the free Google Earth application installed on your computer.

The best single book on the Quetico pictographs – location, meaning, cultural context – is Michael Furtman’s Magic On The Rocks. (Click on 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

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

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

Basswood River 

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

Beaverhouse Lake 

Burt Lake

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

Cirrus Lake

Cypress Lake

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

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

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

Darky Lake – see Darkwater Lake

Doré Lake 

Kahshahpiwi Lake  – larger scale map here

Kawnipi Lake 

Keewatin Lake

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

Mckenzie Lake – location of two sites here

Montgomery Creek

McAlpine Lake

Namakan Lake (Narrows)

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

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

Painted Rock Lake - See here for source

Painted Rock Lake – See here for image source

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

Quetico Lake  – three different sites – two pix here

Saganaga Lake

Shade Lake

Swartman Lake 

Ted Lake 

Trant Lake

Wolseley Lake

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 brief discussion of the pictograph –pp.14, 57,92,137 of Reading Rock Art

Blindfold Lake Pictographs

Blindfold Lake Pictograph

Blindfold Lake – Lake of the Woods (12 km SE of Kenora).  See here in my  1.3 Mb pdf file with basic information and map

Burditt Lake (aka Clearwater)  –  see here … Rajnovich pp. 92-97 for discussion –  location unknown. See here for brief Dewdney discussion of site and examples of images.

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. Exact location not yet determined  –   western end on south side of island seems most likely.  A rabbit man, an animal figure, and other images and markings. Dewdney also mentions a petroglyph site 1/2 mile to the east of the rock painting site.

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

Cuttle Lake Pictographs - a sample

Cuttle Lake Pictographs

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

Devil’s Gap Lake in  Turtle Lake Provincial Park – and 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.

Dryberry Lake 

Ignace-area  unnamed lake – the Smyk site and another. See  here for Ontario Archaeological Society’ Arch Notes Sept/Oct 2014 pp 10-11 for Dennis Smyk’s brief report and included photo.  Google map of Ignace area and its 1000 lakes here!  Not too helpful!  Smyk has apparently located some 150 pictograph sites in the Ignace area over the years.

Jackfish Lake – 1:50000 topo map of lake here;  picto on one of the lake’s islands. See here for a 2.5 mb pdf file with images. For Dewdney text see here.

Lower Manitou Narrows (Lower Manitou Lake)

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

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!  The name he gives is Picture Rock Point, one that does not appear on the topos.  The pictographs, he writes, are “painted on a thick, rough encrustation of lime, and, with the exception of the human figure, are obscure.” Location – undetermined!

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.

Pukamo Island (Rainy Lake) Rajnovitch paper p. 26-31 with drawings; map here;  also pic.  Article no longer accessible- but see here for cached copy.

Sabaskong Bay

Silver Lake

Dewdney. Site #28. Whitefish Bay

Teggau Lake (Kenora) – some pix here

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

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.   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.

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

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.

I had never heard of White Otter as a pictograph site before finding her study; I  used it to locate the 24 White aOtter Lake sites she mentions on the above Garmin Topo Canada map. Correspondence with someone who spent some time looking for these sites prompted me to reduce the sites to two on Anne Bay, supposedly two of the best, and a number of sites 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  (p.8) refers to Rusak’s study when it notes that ” Turtle River–White Otter Lake Provincial Park has documented 39 archaeological sites, 37 pictograph sites (Rusak 1992)”

3. Northwestern Region

Albany River (Petawanga Lake) – see Dewdney, p. 124 for photo – no exact location given

Allanwater River (N of Termite Lake)  (Wabakimi) – reported site/could not find

Artery Lake shaman pictograph

Artery Lake shaman – at the main site

Artery Lake – see also Bloodvein River System. 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. Pictographs On The Bloodvein: The Artery Lake Site

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

Bloodvein River - drawing of pictographs on rock face

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

Bloodvein River system (at least 16 sites) – see here for a 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. Having paddled the Bloodvein River system,  my brother and I were able to visit a number of the sites.  You can see pictographs of the two major sites by clicking on the following titles –

Pictographs On The Bloodvein: The Murdock-Larus Site

Pictographs On The Bloodvein: The Artery Lake Site

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

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

pictographs from Site #262 Cliff Lake south end

pictographs from Site #262 Pikitigushi River system’s Cliff Lake south end

Cliff Lake (Pikitigushi River) – see here for my post on a few dozen pix of the pictographs; do not confuse this Cliff lake for the Cliff Lake in Kenora District, something that Dewdney did for a decade before realizing his mistake.  Click here (pp. 135-141) for Dewdney’s discussion & drawings; see also here .  Also check out my two posts on the Cliff Lake Pictographs elsewhere in this blog.

Cochrane River (north of Deer Lake) –

Deer Lake (McIntosh Bay) – rabbit (?) pict and “a number of weathered abstractions”

Devil’s Warehouse Island (Lake Superior) – a major source of red ochre (hematite)

Dog River (mouth of)  (Lake Superior)

Donald Lake-Hammerhead Lake

Donnelly River – 2 sites     Dewdney:  ”  a major group of paintings…with a smaller site less   than a mile away. On both sites the paintings appear at the foot of modest rock walls…”

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

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

Frances Lake (Dogskin River system) – click on the blue for location and Dewdney references

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

Hanson Lake (Woodland Caribou PP)

Harmon Lake Pictographs drawing

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 the second edition (1967) of his book. No info yet on the site indicated on the opposite shore.

Heathcote Lake (Wabakimi) – exact location not known

Lake Nipigon (Echo Rock) – overview here and 1:5000 here; photo of rock face here;

scroll to  Dewdney p 78 here for discussion and sketch

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

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

precise location yet to be determined

Mackay Lake– mentioned by Dewdney as a possibility – no confirmation as of yet

Mameigwess Lake

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

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

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 located – 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.

Musclow Lake (off Bloodvein River system via Barclay Bay)

Nipigon Bay – on east point across from Red Rock – map here

Northern Twin Lake

Palisade River (Wabakimi) – where the Slim River joins. We paddled right by three times not knowing that there was something to be seen!

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

Dewdney sketch of Pine Needle Lake Rock Face

Dewdney sketch of Pine Needle Lake Rock Face

Pine Needle Lake–  location and Dewdney reference; see here for a couple of pix

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

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

Sharpstone Lake

Shikag River Pictograph Site -

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

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

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

Terrier Lake – exact location unknown;  map and image (scroll through to June 25)

Wabaskang Lake -just west of Perrault Falls on road to Red Lake. exact location of pictograph(s) not indicated

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

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

Wunnummin Lake – article on archeological work on the lake here

4. Northeastern Region

Agawa Rock –   Canadian Encyclopedia article on Agawa Rock

some pix of the trail to the pictographs and some pix of the rock art

I recently uploaded a post on Agawa Rock after our second visit to the site.  Click on the following title – Anishinaabe Rock Paintings of Agawa Rock – A Quick Guide

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

The ultimate guide to the pictographs of Agawa Rock and the Lake Superior area in general is the following book by Thor Conway – (click on his name to access his site)http://thorconway.com/ThorConoway_SpiritsHome.html A Youtube poster, John Wanserski, has a very well done nine-minute video of the Agawa Rock pictographs, complete with the visuals of the trail to get there from the highway and great shots of the pictographs and of the lake.  He introduces images of the actual pictographs 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.

Anima-Nipissing Lake (Temagami) – four different sites identified

Chiniguchi Lake

Collins Inlet Picto Site

Collins Inlet (Phillip Edward Island) – two thunderbirds, a war canoe, and a couple more.  In June 2016 we visited the site. See my post Paddling Around Philip Edward Island – Part Two for more pix, another map, and discussion.

Diamond Lake Pictograph Site

Diamond Lake Pictograph Site

Diamond Lake map here  In October of 2014 my brother and I revisited the site.

Revisiting Temagami’s Diamond Lake Pictograph Site has lots of pix and discussion.

Dog Lake (near Missanabie)

Ferris Lake – mentioned in a post on the Little Hawk Portages- located at SE corner of lake – location on map here

Kennedy Island Pictograph Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

French River (Kennedy Island) – see here for early 1980’s paper by Nick Adams and site drawing source.   Dewdney has a brief paragraph on the French River sites here .  He visited the Recollet Falls site in 1958 and the two upper French sites the following year. Thor Conway’s Discovering Rock Art has a chapter on the Kennedy island pictographs (pp. 103-126) with lots of detail. See also here for my annotated version of Dewdney, pp. 92-94.

French River (Keso Point) – see this pdf file for more info and sources on the site.

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

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

Killarney Bay – see here for the story of the  pictographs’ recent origins.  I include quotes from Dewdney (1962) and an Ontario Government Geological Survey (early 1980’s). See the image to the right for a pictograph panel which Dewdney says is a “site near Killarney Bay”. It is not clear if this is the one he and the Ontario Government Survey are referring to.

 

Lake Temagami – numerous sites indicated on the Friends of Temagami map.  Jeff’s Temagami maps also indicate the various sites.

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!

Little Missinabi Lake Picto Site #1 - the Pothole

Little Missinabi Lake Picto Site #1 – the Pothole

Little Missinaibi Lake – 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. See my post The Pictographs of Little Missinaibi Lake for an in-depth look with maps and  references to Selwyn Dewdney’s late 1950’s and Thor Conway’s mid-1980’s work on the sites.  A  visit by my brother and I in mid-June 2017 visit resulted in lots of photos. While the Grave Bay site remains unconfirmed, thanks to directions given to me 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.

Matagamasi Lake – map of lake here; an excellent Ottertooth map here; article here

Matabichuan River Pictograph

Matabichuan River Pictograph

Matabitchuan River   Thor Conway paper with illustrations pages 35-37 –  if article not accessible- see here for cached copy. Jeff’s Temagami map (Central) has the site indicated.

Mattawa River (Porte de l”enfer) – cave site with exposed hematite veins.

Fairy Point’s most well-known pictograph panel

Missinaibi Lake (Fairy Point) – 4 pix by canoe tripper L. Kovac here; map with 3 sites here including Reva Point and Whitefish Bay sites. 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). Our June 2017 visit to the three Missinaibi Lake sites resulted in the following post –

The Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of Missinaibi Lake.

Moose and Stars Panel at Fairy Point

Moose and Stars Panel at Fairy Point

Mica Bay (south of Agawa)

Ninth Lake – see Spanish River

Obabika Lake – in-depth report by Thor & Julie Conway here – numerous sites discussed

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

Scotia Lake

Serpent River – 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 article here in Arch Notes 1985 (March/April issue).

Stoffer Lake (Temagami) – one or two sites on the east side of the lake. See here for the Ottertooth map which locates a site tot he 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.

Upper Grassy Lake

Spanish River (Ninth Lake) pictographs

Spanish River (Ninth Lake) pictographs

Spanish River (Ninth Lake) – pictos  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 pictured above 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.

Stouffer Lake (Temagami) – ottertooth.com map here

Wakimika Lake – petroglyph site on island – Bill Steer article here

Wizard Lake – “near Gogama, a km drive off highway 144 and 2 km paddle”

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

5. Southern Region

Bon Echo – see under Mazinaw Lake

Brockville – two very minor sites, one in Brockville – the Fulford Site –  and the other 7 km up the St. Lawrence 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.

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

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

Mazinaw Rock - Dewdney's Face II

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

Mazinaw  Lake  (Bon Echo)  –  See pp 95-100 of Selwyn Dewdney here for description.  A pdf file just of the five pages can be downloaded here.

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

See also Lower Mazinaw Lake and its four faces.  Click here for a few pix and a map.

Petroglyph Provincial Park – not pictographs, but ON’s largest indigenous rock carvings’ site. See here for a surprising assessment of the efforts made 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

 

rock lake - Nanabush figure?

perhaps a Nanabush figure at Rock Lake

 

Rock Lake (Algonquin Provincial Park)–  A 720kb pdf file with maps and info from various sources can be accessed here.  For a Bill Mason painting of the pictograph site cliffs see here.

St. Lawrence River (see Brockville above)


As you’ve noticed, there is a lot of work yet to be done – and sites to be located – before this is something 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. Just email me at  true_north@mac.com ______________________________________________________________

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

Google Books has almost an entire chapter from Bob Henderson’s Every Trail has A Story: Heritage Travel in Canada. It’s 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. ______________________________________________________________

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 of pictographs based on the following Ontario sites stretching from Lake Nipigon to the Quebec/Ontario border – 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 useful bibliography which could serve as a checklist of some of the best material in print. You will either be reading the article in French and/or making use of Google’s translate feature! One new word in my vocabulary after working my way through is the word rupestre, which turns out to be the word used in French in lieu of the English “pictograph” or “rock painting”.  The Google translator confusingly translates it as “cave”. ______________________________________________________________

The Quetico Foundation  website (before its redesign in 2014) had a page entitled About Quetico Park – Native Pictographs”. Among other facts found there was the number of sites – 28 – in the park. Another interesting 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 seems to have 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 also the 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.

The misguided Quetico Foundation approach is based on the same attitude that would have shut Norval Morrisseau down before he was able to develop into one of Canada’s great artists by drawing from his Anishinaabe cultural heritage. You’ve just got to laugh when you realize that it was for the Quetico Foundation that University of Toronto Press published Dewdney’s book which established the systematic study of those pictographs!

We would know very little of these entry points to Anishinaabe culture were it not for the efforts to catalogue and analyze 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. In a few generations these images will be all that is left to  contemplate as the already-smeared and fading pictographs are gone forever.

I recently upped a post entitled Selwyn Dewdney, Norval Morrisseau and the Ojibway Pictograph Tradition. You may find it of interest in relation to the debate about whether pictographs – or aspects of Anishinaabe culture in general – should be shared with outsiders.

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25 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!

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