Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of Manitoba

Previous Post: Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of Ontario.

Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of The Canadian Shield is my introduction to a series of posts, each dealing with a Canadian province or U.S. area where Indigenous Peoples’ (Algonkin, Ojibwe, Cree, Dene) rock paintings are found.

This work in progress needs more research and the help of interested readers and fellow canoe trippers to develop into something more comprehensive.


This map from a 1965 Selwyn Dewdney report makes clear that Manitoba pictograph country lies to the east and north of Lake Winnipeg:

pictograph country on the Canadian Shield – from the Bloodvein to the Churchill


Atik Bay – see Sasaginnigak Lake


Berens River (just above Manito Rapids and Fishing Lake) …Dewdney writes in Stone Age Paintings (1965), published by the Government of Manitoba’s Dep’t. of Mines and Natural Resources (Parks Branch) –

Of the two sites found on fingers of the southeast arm of Fishing Lake only a couple of miles apart, one is small and badly obscured by lichen….The other, consisting of a single face some four feet square that is reproduced in figure 13, has a remarkable ruddy appearance, contrasting strongly with the surrounding rock…(p.28)




Download here the section of Stone Age Paintings dealing with the two Fishing Lake sites and the one below Bushey Lake (Bloodvein River system)


Berens River

Horseshoe Lake below Manitou Rapids


Big Moose Falls


Bigshell Lake


Bloodvein River

The most impressive Bloodvein sites are in the Ontario section of the river – especially the Artery Lake site and the one between Murdock and Larus Lakes. Still, there are a half-dozen sites to see as you make your way downriver to Lake Winnipeg from Artery Lake.


(below Bushey Lake –  click here to see my post on canoeing the Bloodvein for images and discussion of the site just below the rapids from Bushey Lake and on Stonehouse Lake.

Bloodvein rock paintings below Bushey Lake

Bloodvein rock paintings below Bushey Lake – see here for more discussion


Stonehouse Lake – two sites

Bloodvein Pictograph Site about 1.7 km up from Stonehouse Lake

Bloodvein Pictograph Site about 1.7 km up from Stonehouse Lake – different angle


Kautunigan Lake –  We paddled by the site on Day 11 of our trip down the Bloodvein. See here for pix and a discussion of the site.

barely discernible Kautunigan pictos


Meekisiwi Rapids site

Dewdney in his mid-1970s report wrote this about the Meekisiwi site –

Bloodvein Pictograph just south of the new bridge crossing the Bloodvein

Bloodvein Pictograph just south of the new bridge crossing the Bloodvein

We saw more graffiti – both painted and scratched into the lichen – near this pictograph site and in the stretch of the Bloodvein below the new bridge than almost anywhere we have paddled in Ontario. It is not a great look for Pimachiowin Aki.

Chubby, Vern, and Chester’s middle finger salute  to UNESCO  by the new Bloodvein Bridge

yet more graffiti near the end of the Bloodvein below the new Bridge



Kasoos Site – the Bull Moose Picto.

the moose pictograph documented by Steinbring in the 1960s. Apparently, it is a half-actual size depiction so presumably unmissable.  We did not see it!

To the right is a Selwyn Dewdney drawing and below is the illustration from a report by Steinbring and Elias.

Here is Dewdney’s account of the Bull Moose at the Kasoos site –

See Day 16- From Lagoon Run To a Campsite Below Kasoos Rapids for more on the last two sites on the Bloodvein.


Churchill River

an estimated 25 sites in the Manitoba stretch of the river

Opachuanau Lake – Oil Drum Site)

Opachuanau Lake – Face Site)

Opachuanau Lake  – Caribou Nest Site)   –  about 6 km  downstream  from Leaf Rapids


Grass River

Tramping Lake –  more info here and exact location here.

Milosivic Northern_Manitoba_53_Tramping_Lake_Pictographs_20

Stan Milosevic photo of Tramping Lake  site – see here for  his close-up photos of specific pictographs

Dewdney’s Stone Age Paintings, his report on Manitoba pictograph sites, was published in 1965. It covers the Tramping Lake site with discussion and drawings. He writes:

One of the two heaviest concentrations of petrographs so far found in northern Manitoba is about eighty air miles northeast of The Pas, in the first narrows of Tramping Lake, only a few miles off the Snow Lake highway. Here, a substantial outcrop of granite dominates the shore, made more prominent by a recent burn. Glacial action has sheared and rounded the massive blocks and smoothed some of the vertical faces in the pro- cess to make ideal “canvases” for the aboriginal artist.

Of the fourteen faces designated nearly half are badly weathered and difficult to make out.

Two images below  – an overview and a closeup of what Dewdney labels Face C.


Hayes River

Knee Lake – location near this lodge


High Rock Narrows – and here for Site #2


North Oxford Lake


Lenallen Lake


Manigotagan River (Long Lake) –

brief Canadian Canoe Routes forum thread. Essential reading:  pp. 9-21 of Steinbring. Aboriginal Rock Painting Sites in Manitoba. 1998 in Manitoba Archaeological Journal (Volume 8. Nos 1-2)


Molson Lake (see Paimusk Creek)


Nelson River

Cross Lake –  Devil’s Staircase Site,( Location: 54°30 ’20″ N 97°54’130’”W approx.)

Description of paintings:  There are 3 paintings on a fairly high vertical face of biotite-granodiorite-gneiss outcrop:

  • a man with 3 legs,
  • an unidentified 4- footed animal and 
  • a double set of “tally marks”

*info from Tim Jones report – see below for a pdf download of his mid-197-s report.

Cross LakeKapitopiskak Site, Location: 54°48’20’N. 97°19115 W.(approx.

Description: 3 small marks on medium-high, highly rounded biotite-granodiorite- gneiss cliff face, the only identifiable mark being a small vertical cross


Paimusk Creek (Molson Lake inflow)  –

Selwyn Dewdney in his 1965 report describes the Paismusk Creek site like this –

(It) exceeds in the number of paintings even the Tramping Lake site, which it resembles as to setting; a beautiful granite outcrop facing south, with many smooth, glaciated lichen-free faces. Some of these are convenient to the water, but the site takes its character from a “gallery” of paintings done from a narrow ledge from which there is a sheer drop of a dozen feet or more to the lake below.

Bob Henderson mentions 100 images.  His text has the creek spelled both as  Paimish and Paimisk.

 Robert Bell in his 1880 progress Report explains

paimusk pictographs-2

See here for some excellent research on the northern Ojibwe migration to the Norway House area.


Poplar River

Dewdney’s mid-1970s report identified three of the numerous sites on the Poplar River system, first photographed by Dennis Allan. No locations were given but the following names –

  • Fire Camp Site FdLc-P1
  • Broken Paddle Site FdLc-P2
  • Round Reef site FdLc-P3

Three Poplar River picto sites – Dewdney

For Dewdney’s full description of each site see this pdf file – Dewdney Report-Poplar River Sites.


Sasaginnigak Lake –

Of the main site (see map) Steinbring writes that it is likely  “the largest single rock painting site in Manitoba.”  He identifies nine panels stretching out over 200 meters (with a 75-meter gap between Panels VIII and IX).  See pp. 21-51 of his Aboriginal Rock Painting Sites in Manitoba in the Manitoba Archaeological Journal (1998-Volume 8. Nos 1-2)) for a fascinating examination of the site and parallels with images from other sites in Manitoba and beyond.

There are two other sites on Sasaginnigak Lake; one is on Atik Bay, just to the west of the major site described above. See here for a topo map view – the exact location is still not determined. The third site is unknown…

Milosivic Northern_Manitoba_53_Tramping_Lake_Pictographs_20

Stan Milosevic photo of Tramping Lake  site – see here for  Stan’s close-up photos of specific pictographs


Upper Molson River – no info at present


Further Resources:

Selwyn Dewdney

In  1965 a report titled Stone Age Paintings was published by the Department of Mines and Resources of the Province of Manitoba. The writer/ illustrator was  Selwyn Dewdney. The following sites are covered in the report:

  • Moose Lake
  • Tramping Lake
  • Molson Lake
  • Upper Nelson Fairy creek site
  • Minago Lake
  • south of the High Rock nelson
  • Fishing Lake – 2 sites
  • Bushey Lake on the Bloodvein

Access it at the site here

Note: Most of the digital download formats of the booklet only have the text of the original publication. The pdf format reproduces the entire booklet, images and all.  It has Dewdney’s drawings and descriptions of 10 sites he visited in 1963 and 1964. Access it at the site here.

a drawing from Dewdney’s Stone Age Painting (1965)


Papers In Manitoba Archaeology: Miscellaneous Papers #8 – Studies In Manitoba Rock Art -II. Rock Paintings. 1978.

The collection of reports can be found at the site. A simple sign-up gives you access for one hour at a time.  The last report (p.105-133) is by Selwyn Dewdney. Titled “Aboriginal Rock Paintings In Manitoba: A Preliminary Description of 27 Sites East and Northeast of Lake Winnipeg,”  it covers 27 sites he visited in 1965, 1966, and 1972. He notes that his work was complemented by that done by Steinbring, Elias, and others. 

See here for a 3.6 Mb pdf file of this mid-1970s Dewdney report.


 Jack Steinbring: 

Aboriginal Rock Painting Sites in Manitoba.1998.

In late April 2017, I came across a reference to this –

  • a  Jack Steinbring piece titled Aboriginal Rock Painting Sites in Manitoba in the 1998 volume of Manitoba Archaeological Journal (Volume 8. Nos 1-2)

I had read a brief article of his on the massive and impossible-to-miss Bloodvein moose – the one we somehow paddled right by at the end of our trip down the Bloodvien without even seeing!

On finding a copy of the Journal at the Toronto Reference Library in April 2017,  I was amazed to find that the Steinbring “article” actually makes up the entire contents of the Journal for that year!  I started reading and after an hour decided to photocopy the entire article so I could bring it home with me.  It took a half-hour and $13. to get the job done!

Article?  It really should be a book and more widely known and available. It is the best single thing I have found on pictographs in Manitoba!

  • 134 pages of text, drawings, and b&w images  dealing with a half-dozen sites,
  • an extensive bibliography,
  • and 35 colour plates.

I’ll have to return to the library to see those plates in full colour!

Its 1998 publishing date also makes it more up-to-date than anything else out there (at least that I am aware of).  Here is a list of the specific sites covered –

  • The Rice Lake Pictograph – pp. 1-9
  • The Long Lake (Manigotogan River system) Pictograph Site – pp. 9-21
  • The Sasaginnigak Lake Rock Painting Site – pp. 21- 51
  • The Tramping Lake Rock Painting Site – pp. 52-72
  • The Paimusk Creek Rock Painting Site – pp. 73-94
  • The Leaf Rapids Rock Painting Site –   pp.94-123

Not only does Steinbring do a masterful job of describing the images at the various sites; but he also makes use of other pictographs from across the Canadian Shield to explain or expand on the issue at hand.

Along the way, he never fails to acknowledge and describe the work and contributions of those academic researchers and Anishinaabeg who laid the foundation of our understanding of pictographs of the Canadian Shield.

Good luck in tracking down your own copy!


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