The Peterborough Petroglyphs, a sacred site of global importance, is the largest known concentration of Indigenous rock carvings in Canada. Over a thousand years ago Algonquian-speaking societies that travelled widely throughout the Canadian Shield established this holy place, Kinomagewapkong (The Teaching Rocks) on a worldwide meridian of earth energy, or ley line.
With the creation of a vast visual library, animals, human figures, spirit beings, shapeshifters and other symbols rich with meaning were depicted on a monumental ridge of crystalline limestone. Red ochre was applied to the carvings, an ancient igneous pigment used for illustration purposes and to consecrate sacred space throughout the Americas. It is thought that the visual literacy encoded in the carvings communicated tribal myth and memory, individual dreams and visions, cultural teachings and guidance to the First Nations who traversed great distances to this pristine and magical wilderness place.
On the north shore of Stoney Lake, accessible from Peterborough or Havelock, Petroglyphs Provincial Park is open from mid-May to October for day use only. In addition to viewing the petroglyphs and touring the Visitor Centre, there is much to do and explore for the outdoor and nature enthusiast. Hiking trails meander through the surrounding forests, wetlands and rocky ridges, biking is allowed on the park roads, and there are beautiful woodland spaces for picnics and relaxing. Home to many rare species, sightings of different kinds of wildlife and birds are common in this pristine and magical wilderness.
“The Learning Place," the interpretive and educational centre, is an amazing storehouse of videos, information, hands-on activities and exhibits based on Anishnaabe history and culture. You can browse the Park Store, which offers nature-themed gifts, and books on rock art and First Nations culture. A 20-minute film “The Teaching Rocks” is shown daily upon request, and visitors are encouraged to see the film before visiting the petroglyphs site.
The audible flow of water under the sloping rock indicates this outcropping to be the home of animate earth and water spirits in-situ, and the naturally-occurring fissures in the rock are thought to have been revered as the entrance to these underground springs and lower worlds. Many of these fissures have been enhanced with petroglyph carving and red ochre, such as that of a woman’s womb, breasts and body. To the ancient ones it was obvious that women, with their regenerative cycles, performed the same functions as the earth, which was the source of all nourishment, protection and procreative power.
Stunning in their immediacy and evocative expression, these petroglyph masterworks speak directly to us across time and space. Kinomagewapkong is a mystical place that has deep significance to us today as we renew our connection to the Earth, and as allies to First Nations, recognize their foundational claims to the land.
RESOURCE LINK - Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg: This is Our Territory by Gidigaa Migizi (Doug Williams)
The Teaching Rocks tell us to care for Mother Earth. They teach of coexistence, of harmony. The messages are for all.
The land is filled with places where the Spirit is present. A presence that exists beyond our everyday world. A presence that is sensed as a feeling or atmosphere. Such a place is Kinoomaagewaabkon. The Teaching Rocks are alive. They tell us about ourselves.
Pegi Eyers is the author of "Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community," an award-winning book that explores strategies for intercultural competency, healing our relationships with Turtle Island First Nations, uncolonization, recovering an ecocentric worldview, rewilding, creating a sustainable future and reclaiming peaceful co-existence in Earth Community. Available from Stone Circle Press or Amazon