Rock arts is generally divided in two categories: carving website (petroglyphs) and paintings sites (pictographs). Pictographs are paintings that to be made by using red ochre or, less commonly, black, white or yellow dye.
Rock arts is generally split in 2 categories: carving website (petroglyphs) and paintings sites (pictographs). Pictographs are paints that to be made by using red ochre or, less commonly, black, white or yellow dye.
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A close up of the caribou, part of the pictograph site on Montgomery Lake in Quetico (photo by Doug Woods and also Valerie Jacobs).

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Petroglyphs on Agnes Lake in Quetico Park. 4 grayish-white caribou or deer on a cliff top top the west coast of the lake. This is the only well-known petroglyph site in Quetico (photo by Doug Woods and Valerie Jacobs).
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Representation that a Solar gift from the Peterborough Petroglyph Site, southerly Ontario (courtesy Serge Lemaître).
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The Peterborough Petroglyphs National historical Site the Canada, situated in southerly Ontario. The Petroglyphs were sculpted by the Algonquian-speaking people.
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Petroglyphs ~ above the massive sandstone cliffs at Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park (photo by Cliff Wallis, courtesy Cottonwood Consultants Ltd.).
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The Montgomery-Cole pictograph cliff top top Montgomery Lake in Quetico Park. This is a seldom-seen pictograph website as it is inaccessible through water and requires a two-hour trek overland through often unfriendly terrain (photo by Doug Woods and also Valerie Jacobs).
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Close up of a section of the pictographs on the eastern shore that the south bay that Darky Lake in Quetico. An additional section that this pictograph reflects a man with a gun, among the couple of pictographs wherein an approximate date can it is in assigned. This is among the most beautiful set of pictographs in Quetico (photo through Doug Woods and also Valerie Jacobs).
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Close increase of a ar of the Agawa only pictographs, believed to celebrate a for sure passage by the Ojibwa throughout Lake remarkable (photo by Doug Woods and Valerie Jacobs).

Pictographs and Petroglyphs

Rock art is generally split in two categories: carving website (petroglyphs) and paintings web page (pictographs). Pictographs are paints that to be made by using red ochre or, much less commonly, black, white or yellow dye. Although the majority of the photos were traced v the finger, some might be executed v brushes do of animal or vegetal fibres. Petroglyphs room carvings that space incised, abraded or soil by method of stone tools top top cliff walls, boulders and also flat bedrock surfaces.

Rock art sites have been found throughout all Canada. In fact, pictographs and also petroglyphs may constitute Canada"s oldest and most widespread imaginative tradition. That is component of a global genre of prehistoric art, which consists of the cave paintings of Spain and France as well as the rock art of Scandinavia, Finland, northeast Asia and Siberia. No foolproof technique for the precise dating of absent art has been discovered, various other than speculative association with stratified, fairly datable archaeological remains. If the legacy of rock arts was no doubt lugged into Canada by its more quickly occupants throughout the last ice cream AGE, the is many unlikely that instances of good antiquity will ever before be found.

Rock arts in lot of Canada is attached with the search for help spirits and also with shamanism - a widespread spiritual tradition in which the SHAMAN"s major tasks are healing and also prophesy, along with the vision quest. Several broad regions the rock art "style areas" have been distinguished, including the Maritimes, the Canadian Shield, the Prairies, british Columbia and the Arctic.

The Maritimes

The maritime provinces count many rock art sites that room usually attributed to the Mi"kmaq (MICMAC). Essentially composed of petroglyphs, this art generally is composed of well incisions make on slate rocks along the shores of lakes and rivers. Some of them are uncovered in KEJIMKUJIK national PARK, in ~ Medway River and also MacGowan Lake, and in southwest Nova Scotia. Photos include animals eg, (caribou, moose, birds, snakes), humanlike figures, hunting and fishing scenes, footprints and also fingerprints, and ornamental designs that are additionally found on these people"s clothes. In enhancement to this timeless iconography, over there are additionally images of europe origin, such as firearms, churches and Christian designs, and beautiful depiction of sailboats.

The Canadian Shield

The Canadian SHIELD, i m sorry extends indigenous Rivière St-Maurice in Québec to northern Saskatchewan, counts much more than 500 pictograph sites, when petroglyph sites space confined to the south. The Peterborough petroglyph site in southern Ontario (see PETROGLYPHS PROVINCIAL PARK) is the most outstanding in every one of Canada through its several hundred pictures of humans, pets (eg, birds, snakes, turtles and also boats), all had on a single rock outcrop of crystalline limestone. Here, there are no pictorial limits such as frames or groundlines, and it appears that there is no deliberate grouping of images. Aesthetic order is in accord with nature, and also images space often incorporated with the countless hollows, crevices and also seams that the rock itself.

It has actually been verified that in painting sites, the arrangement of symbols coincides to the bespeak of the spiritual people in various levels: the THUNDERBIRDS above, humans and other pets in the middle, and also the underworld us (the Horned line or MISHIPESHU, the large lynx) in ~ the worse level. Moreover, the usage of crevices, cracks or mineral seams (mostly quartz) reflects an organization of an are and a ingredient that phase the various mythological elements. Because that instance, the fight between Thunderbird and also the Horned snake is often portrayed as the bird killing the reptile with lightning, i m sorry is manifested in the composition by a seam that quartz. Various other iconographic themes likewise appear regularly: a number with horns or rabbit ears accompanied through a wolf probably represents NANABOZO and his brothers Wolf; and a line or Mishipeshu under a canoe reflects the risk of those terrific beings, which pointer canoes and also drown your passengers.

Pictograph web page in the Canadian Shield are less substantial in scale and contain fewer picture clusters compared to carving sites. Back sites in ~ Bon Echo Provincial Park in southerly Ontario and also at Lake exceptional Provincial Park close to Wawa (Ont) space well known, the majority of pictograph discoveries have to be made in Quetico Park and also at Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. Thousands of pictograph sites and a few petroglyph sites have been discovered in this part of the Canadian Shield, whereby they may have been in production from a very early period. At the site of dirt Portage in the Lake of the Woods area, because that example, petroglyphs have actually been discovered beneath the layers of one Archaic duration archaeological deposit, which have been date by your discoverers to prior to 5000 years ago, making lock the earliest in Canada. Radiocarbon date at the Nisula website along Lac Cassette, Québec, indicated that the paints were made around 2000 years ago. The geographic circulation of rock art sites and also the iconographic themes the are stood for seem to suggest that carvings and also paintings ~ above the rocks the the Canadian Shield were created by the ancestors that Algonquian populaces (eg, OJIBWA, CREE, INNU).

The Prairies

despite the absence of absent surfaces on the Prairies, petroglyphs and pictographs are an important prehistoric art type of southerly Saskatchewan (seeSASKATCHEWAN rock ART) and also Alberta. The Herschel site in Saskatchewan includes petroglyphs that can pertain come the earliest rock art legacy in phibìc America, vice versa, the black paintings of the Swift existing Creek site are distinctive in the country. Numerous pictographs have been discovered on diverted boulders and also rocky outcrops along the foothills near Calgary. At WRITING-ON-STONE Provincial Park in southerly Alberta, over there is one extensive collection of small-scale petroglyphs incised ~ above the sandstone bluffs the the Milk River. Lock depict spiritual symbols such together Thunderbird or shaman figures. Some narratives have additionally been illustrated: this is the case of a complex, four-metre long battle scene showing a camp circle, placed warriors, tipis, guns, and also shot. The petroglyphs sometimes display evidence of call with Europeans, since horses, men bearing guns, and wheeled carts space found.

British Columbia

several of the many intriguing photos of Canadian absent art space painted top top cliffs in interior British Columbia. Those close to Keremeos are probably abstractions of the soul the shaman encountered in his visions. The BC coastline has plenty of petroglyph sites, despite the couple of pictograph sites room probably much more recent. Stylistically, West coastline rock art is distinct in Canada, frequently showing kind and subject-matter linkages through the later historical art the the 19th century and also with the very similar petroglyphs uncovered on the lower Amur river in northeast Asia. Superior sites are situated primarily ~ above Vancouver Island - Nanaimo Petroglyph Park and also Sproat Lake - however sites have actually been discovered as far north as Prince Rupert and along the Nass and also Skeena flow system.

The Arctic

The couple of rock arts sites discovered in the Canadian Arctic are all situated in the Kangirsujuaq area top top Qikirtaaluk Island, Nunavik. Castle contain petroglyphs that only represent complete faces, with human, pet or hybrid features. The piece were more than likely made by the DORSET people, which inhabited the Arctic between 500 BC and 1500 AD. The faces that are uncovered in rock arts sites resemble masks the were sculpted by them. Among the sites videotaped to this day, the most important is no doubt Qajartalik, i beg your pardon is located on the northeast side of the island, close to the ar of Kangirsujuaq. The website contains much more than 170 faces that were incised in an outcrop the soapstone (steatite) around 1500 year ago. Most of the faces are symmetrical and some have feline features and horns. The carvings probably had actually a spiritual meaning for the Dorset. Unfortunately, the Qajartalik petroglyphs have actually been vandalized numerous times.

Research History

Pictographs and also petroglyphs in Canada were mentioned by explorers, travellers, and settlers as early as the so late 18th and also early 19th centuries. But far-ranging records and also studies showed up only after ~ 1850, initially by American scholars. The very first to illustrate and interpret pictographs indigenous the allude of check out of the native world themselves was Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, a united state Indian agent stationed in ~ Sault Ste Marie, Mich, in the at an early stage 19th century. He explained the AGAWA PICTOGRAPHS in ~ Bay near Wawa, Ont, and wrote ~ above the practice and definition of pictography amongst Algonquian speaker of north America in a 6-volume publishing dated 1851-57.

The work of Colonel Garrick Mallery for the Smithsonian Institute, however, was mainly responsible for stimulating scholarly and popular attention in absent art. His still critical survey, Picture-Writing of the American Indians (1893), includes descriptions and also drawings of several Canadian sites in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and also BC. In 1887 and also 1888, Mallery visited and very first recorded few of the considerable Kejimkujik petroglyphs in Nova Scotia.

Discoveries and also accounts that rock arts by Canadian authors appeared sporadically in the 1890s and more abundantly in the early years of the 20th century. In BC, James A. TEIT report on pictographs of internal BC (1896-1930). In Ontario, David BOYLE, among Canada"s pioneer archaeologists, did many of the at an early stage rock art recording. He was especially the first, in 1896, to describe and illustrate the pictographs at Lake Mazinaw.

In these beforehand years, too, Harlan I. Smith, archaeologist with the national Museum, wrote countless of the earliest accounts of petroglyph sites follow me the BC shore (1906-36), complying with upon initial explorations on Vancouver Island through the American anthropologist Franz BOAS (1891). While absent art study abated considerably throughout Canada between 1930 and the early 1950s, BC continued to be a emphasis of activity. In between 1936 and also 1942, for example, Francis J. Barrow surveyed and reported (1942) top top south coastal sites and the Norwegian archaeologist and also rock art authority Gutorm Gjessing released 2 significant studies that BC rock arts (1952, 1958) ~ a cross-Canada survey undertaken in 1946-47.

In 1949 BC novelist and also author Edward Meade began recording coastal petroglyph sites native Alaska come as far south as Puget Sound, the outcomes of which appeared in 1971. Starting in 1960, the exact same territory was thoroughly extended by Beth and Ray Hill, who lavishly illustrated publication (1974) did lot to lure public interest in BC absent art. In the province"s interior, apiarist john Corner ongoing Teit"s research. This work resulted in a popular portrayed survey (1968), which remains a crucial publication because that the region.

The 1960s were specifically rich years for rock art investigation in Canada, culminating with the foundation of the Canadian rock Art research study Association (CRARA) in 1969. This national association the specialists specialized to research, windy education and preservation of pictograph and petroglyph sites in Canada was instrumental in promoting public awareness and increased academic interest across the nation through the biannual conferences and newsletters (1970- ). Selwyn Dewdney (1909-79) to be elected very first senior associate in recognition of his long-standing donation to rock arts recording in the Canadian Shield and to windy education. A advertising artist and art therapist, Dewdney had started recording pictographs and petroglyphs for the imperial ONTARIO MUSEUM in 1957. Aiming for a keep going of Boyle"s pioneering work, Kenneth E. Kidd (1906-1994), then curator that ethnology, had actually sought resources for the systematic documentation of Ontario"s rock arts sites. Through initial support of the Quetico Foundation, Dewdney was selected because that the task of locating and also recording new as well together forgotten website in the rough Shield. From 1957 come his fatality in 1979, Dewdney discovered and also traced hundreds of sites throughout Ontario and also westward come Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The book co-authored by Dewdney and Kidd (1962, rev 1967) has engendered enormous public attention in rock arts of the Canadian Shield.

through the so late 1960s, the scientific study of pictographs and also petroglyphs had come to be widespread throughout Canada. More accurate systems of photographic and other means of recording have actually been applied and experiments have been undertaken, chiefly by researchers of the Canadian conservation Institute, because that the dating and preservation of unprotected rock arts sites. Because the 1970s, a brand-new generation that researchers and also their student have continued to discover new sites and re-investigate known ones, using brand-new methods of record and new theories the interpretation. These incorporate Thor Conway indigenous the Ontario set of Culture; James D. Keyser, who newly retired native the American Forest company in Portland, Oregon; Doris Lundy, at the historical Branch the the BC set of Tourism, Sport and the Arts; Jack Steinbring, who retired from the university of Winnipeg and is now affiliated through the Ripon College and the university of Wisconsin-Oshksoh; Gilles Tassé, retirement from the Université du Québec in Montréal (UQAM) ; Ron and also Joan Vastokas, both professor emeritus at Trent University; Ian Wainwright, that retired indigenous the Canadian Conservation institute in 2004; Michael A. Klassen, heritage consultant in BC; Brian Molyneaux, director of the college of southern Dakota Archaeology Laboratory; grace Rajnovich who worked many years because that the Ontario ministry of Culture; Paul Taçon, professor and also research leader in ~ the Griffith University school of art in Australia; and Daniel Arsenault, professor in ~ UQAM.

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Research has actually tended newly to focus on the interpretation of both the duty and meaning of rock art in the context of native society and top top the relationship of pictographs and also petroglyphs to other forms of aboriginal visual expression. For around the last decade, research has shifted towards the research of the bordering landscape and the integration of rock arts sites in a more comprehensive geographical context (eg, the importance of the area in ~ the lakes or rivers network, the proximity of rapids or falls).