Pictograph at Mazinaw Lake

Ancient Pictographs 

Ancient rock art adorns cliff faces throughout Canada. There are several pictographs that can be located here in the Ottawa Valley. Lake Mazinaw is situated a few hours south of Pikwakanagan. The lake is surrounded by cliffs rising straight out of the water. Etched upon this ageless rock are ancient pictographs of red ochre. Those pictographs within unceded Algonquin territory are believed to have been created by Algonquin ancestors.

The pictographs at Lake Mazinaw and Bird Rock were likely sketched from the water using canoes to approach the rock face, while others were painted high up on top of cliffs. There are over 250 pictographs on 65 rock faces at Lake Mazinaw. The pictographs represent both animal and human figures and include abstract and geometric symbols. Their dates cannot be confirmed but Lake Mazinaw may be the oldest rock art site in the Canadian Shield. Picture writing is an Algonquin tradition that has been found on birchbark, copper and stone. The rock paintings were created using red ochre; a mineral, likely mixed with animal oil as a binding agent.

Red ochre is a natural mineral. Many sites have been found to indicate that red ochre was harvested in large amounts and stored for later use. Red ochre pigments have been made into paints by prehistoric peoples reaching as far away as Brazil.

Red ochre consists of silica and clay and its colour comes from the iron oxide in it. Ochre is found throughout the world in many shades, from red to yellow to brown, and even faint blue. Red ochre has excellent permanence in all media.
Pictographs are inherently difficult to date. The red ochre is washed and worn away with time. The red markings that remain are simply a stain of the original red ochre once painted on the rock.

Pictographs range from simple shapes or maps, to entire stories or scenes, utilizing mythological and spiritual figures. Common shapes can be found in pictographs from very distant regions such as the shape painted to depict a canoe.

Many of these treasures have been destroyed. Some have be painted over with graffiti, others carved into. One pictograph was almost broken clean away by enthusiasts hoping to remove it from the site.

The pictographs tell Algonquin stories and they are ancient treasures for all people to enjoy. Please treat any pictograph or rock carving you encounter with respect.

Archaeology Protocol

The Algonquins of Pikwakanagan have received Institutional/Corporate membership in the Ontario Archaeological Society (AOS). Community representatives attended the AOS Symposium in November 2005 and 2004. In 2005 a booth was available at the Symposium displaying Algonquin crafts and providing information to the public. In 2004 they presented the Archaeology Protocol during the AOS Symposium, which was attended by Members of the Eastern States Archaeological Federation.

For Further Information Contact:
Algonquins of Pikwakanagan
1657-A Mishomis Inamo, Pikwakanagan
Via: Golden Lake ON K0J 1X0

Kirby Whiteduck, Chief
tel: 613 625-2800 ext. 229      
fax: 613 625-1149

Ron Bernard, Councillor
tel: 613 625-2800 ext. 230    
fax: 613 625-1149

Danny Sarazin, Associate Lands, Estates and Membership Manager
tel: 613 625-2800 ext. 231    
fax: 613 625-1149