Mazinaw Pictographs National Historic Site of Canada

Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario
Detail view of the pictographic symbols at Mazinaw Pictographs National Historic Site of Canada, 2008. © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Erica Lenton, 2008.
Detail
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Erica Lenton, 2008.
View of the rock art paintings on the cliff face that rises sheer out of the water at Mazinaw Pictographs National Historic Site of Canada, 2008. © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Erica Lenton, 2008.Detail view of the pictographic symbols at Mazinaw Pictographs National Historic Site of Canada, 2008. © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Erica Lenton, 2008.General view of the Mazinaw Pictographs, showing the views from the far shore towards the cliffs, 2008. © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Erica Lenton, 2008.
Address : Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1982-06-12

Other Name(s):
  • Mazinaw Pictographs  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1982-SUA, 2006 SDC-011

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque:  Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario

Mazinaw, named for an Algonquin word meaning “picture” or “writing,” is the largest rock art site on the southern Canadian Shield and the only major pictograph site in southern Ontario. Along the base of this cliff, more than 260 painted images or pictographs attest to the significance of this place and the storytelling techniques of the ancient Aboriginal peoples who created them. The red ochre images depict human and animal figures, as well as a remarkable number of abstract and geometric symbols. The Algonquin people of today remain proud of their ancestral link to this special place.

Description of Historic Place

Located at the confluence of Upper and Lower Mazinaw Lakes, within Bon Echo Provincial Park, the Mazinaw Pictograph National Historic Site of Canada is a large collection of pictographic symbols applied to a cliff face that rises sheer out of the water. The official recognition refers to a narrow band of 30 meters to the west and to the east of the cliff face.

Heritage Value

Mazinaw Pictographs was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1982 because: it is the largest rock art site on the southern Canadian Shield and the only major pictograph site in Southern Ontario; and, it is a very complex site containing many more abstract and geometric symbols than is normally the case.

Archaeological surveys of this site began as early as 1895, and continued periodically through to the present times. For size and complexity, this site has no rivals; no doubt the dramatic setting of a great cliff rising sheer out of the water was a factor in the choice of this location for pictographic arts.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, April 2006.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: the rock art paintings, spread out over 65 rock faces along a 2.5 kilometre stretch of the cliff face; the relatively natural setting of the paintings in relation to the cliff, the lake, and the surrounding provincial park; views from the far shore, or from the water, towards the cliffs.