Petroglyphs Provincial Park

The Trent River flowing through the Canadian Shield near Burleigh Falls, Ontario

Algonkian speaking first nations such as the Algonkin, Cree, Odawa and Ojibwa inhabited the Canadian Shield Region of Ontario and were probably responsible for the rock carvings found in Petroglyphs Provinicial Park. The carvings are approximately 600 - 1100 years old. They are evidence of the relationship between nomadic hunters, gatherers and fishers with the spiritual world. The extent of the carvings at the site in the park suggests that this site had a particularly powerful link with the spirit world and was often visited by tribal shamans or spiritual leaders.

This may be a representation
of a shaman.

The intended meaning of the petroglyphs has been lost with their creators, however this one is believed to a be a shaman holding a ceremonial rattle and wearing a head-dress.

These are supposed to be representations of the Great Spirit,
Nanabush (in the form of a rabbit) and the thunderbird.

Gitchi Manitou is the great spirit who created the world according to some old stories that identify the sun as his home. Nanabush is a trickster spirit who is able to change his form. He is also a teacher who helped some people to obtain food from the land. The mythical thunderbird can be a protective spirit. Thunder is created by the flapping of his wings and lightning is the flash of his eyes.

A representation of the turtle is employed
as the symbol for the provincial park

The turtle symbolizes patience, longevity and fertility. In traditional stories, the turtle offered its back as the foundation for the creation of a new world. The circles around the image of the turtle may be eggs.


Ontario Parks. Petrogyphs The Teaching Rocks. Toronto: Government of Ontario. 2001.

© Grose Educational Media, 2002