Peterborough Petroglyphs National Historic Site of Canada

Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Ontario
Detail view of the petroglyphs at Peterborough Petroglyphs National Historic Site of Canada, 1993. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, B. Morin, 1993.
Detail view
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, B. Morin, 1993.
Detail view of the petroglyphs at Peterborough Petroglyphs National Historic Site of Canada, 1993. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, B. Morin, 1993.Detail view of the petroglyphs at Peterborough Petroglyphs National Historic Site of Canada, 1993. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, B. Morin, 1993.Detail view of the petroglyphs at Peterborough Petroglyphs National Historic Site of Canada, 1993. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, B. Morin, 1993.
Address : Woodview, Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1981-01-15

Other Name(s):
  • Peterborough Petroglyphs  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1980-035, 2005-SDC/CED-083

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque: Near Burleigh Falls, Fire Route 34 Fire Route 34, Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Ontario

Situated on an outcrop of white marble on the Canadian Shield, the Peterborough Petroglyphs site is one of the largest known concentrations of prehistoric rock carvings in Canada. Several hundred images comprising a wide variety of realistic animal and human forms, as well as abstract and symbolic representations, give evidence of the spiritual and intellectual life of the Algonkian Indians who carved them between A.D. 900 - 1400. This site is a sacred place.

Description of Historic Place

Located in Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough Petroglyphs National Historic Site of Canada is a broad shelf of exposed marble located in a woodland setting in Peterborough, Ontario. Inscribed across the marble are hundreds of realistic human and animal forms, as well as numerous abstract and symbolic images, which were carved between 900-1400 C.E. The official recognition refers to the Historic Zone of the Provincial Park.

Heritage Value

Peterborough Petroglyphs were designated a national historic site of Canada in 1981 because: it is one of the largest known concentrations of pre-contact rock carvings in Canada.

Situated on an outcrop of white marble on the Canadian Shield, the Peterborough Petroglyphs site is one of the largest known concentrations of pre-contact rock carvings in Canada. Several hundred images comprising a wide variety of realistic animal and human forms, as well as abstract and symbolic representations, give evidence of the spiritual and intellectual life of the Algonkian Indians who carved them between 900 - 1400 C.E. This site is a sacred place and a monument to their artistic ability and sensitivity.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, October 2005; plaque text, November 1984.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: the expanse of exposed rock in its current location in its naturalistic setting of woodland and water; the wide variety of realistic animal and human forms, as well as abstract and symbolic imagery.