At Petroglyphs Provincial Park you see one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in North America, and a few look an awful lot like a Viking vessels!

Petroglyphs Provincial Park - Boat © Lucy Izon

Petroglyphs Provincial Park – Boat © Lucy Izon

Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes, Ontario – Shortly after I arrived at Petroglyphs Provincial Park, on June 21, 2013, I walked a forested path 300 metres from the Visitor Centre to a large glass building set over a great mound of white marble. A sign had informed me that this area was a ‘Spiritual Site for Native People’, and as I entered the building the scent of sage hung in the air. There on the marble mound, surrounded by images etched into the stone, was a small rock alter. On it sat a copper pot and offerings, from herbs to a bright red strawberry. “No Photographs in here please” the staff person explained .”This site is still used for ceremonies.” Just minutes before a small group had gathered to acknowledge the summer solstice and National Aboriginal Day. The scent of the ceremony still drifted around the great glass room.

Petroglyphs Provincial Park - Boat © Lucy Izon

Petroglyphs Provincial Park © Lucy Izon

Petroglyphs Provincial Park, which is 55 km northeast of Peterbrough, Ontario, features one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs (rock carvings) in North America. At the park’s Visitor Centre there are replicas of the petroglyphs that could be photographed. This site, known as Kinoomaagewapkong “The Teaching Rocks”, has a total of about 900 symbols thought to be 600 to 1,100 years old. The rock carvings were not commonly known about until 1954, and this building was erected to protect them in  1984, with humidity is one of the important factors that needing to be controlled.

Itʼs still not known completely why the symbols (tools, boats, people, animals) were created here. Water rushes along a crevice through part of it, and some think that the noise created by this was interpreted to be the voices of spirits, and that perhaps this was a site for vision quests.

Petroglyphs © Lucy Izon

Petroglyphs © Lucy Izon

“The canoe of the Anishinabe is a symbol of belonging and of travel. A person can travel anywhere if the will is there. Rivers represent a choice that one has in life. One may need to travel for a while on many rivers. “


The day-use park and petroglyph site is managed by Ontario Parks and the local Curve Lake First Nation. A 20-minute film at visitor center gives more details, and occasionally in the summer there are special evening events, with nighttime illumination of the carvings. If you want to experience more of the local 1st Nations culture, just 35 km northwest of Peterborough is the Curve Lake First Nations Reserve, where there is a small cultural centre, and where a Pow Wow is held each September. Nearby is the Whetung Ojibwa Centre, with at museum/store/gallery.

Petroglyphs Sign © Lucy Izon

Petroglyphs Sign © Lucy Izon

Peterborough is on the Trent Severn Waterway, a 386 km water route with 45 locks (Lock 21 is a National Historic Site right in Peterborough.) The city of Peterborough is in the scenic Kawartha Lake region, just 90 minutes east of Toronto. It has hundreds of shops and services, more than 60 restaurants, and accommodation ranging from bed and breakfasts to hotels. Each summer you can enjoy more than 300 festivals and events in Peterborough & the Kawarthas region. The region of Peterborough and the Kawarthas, which has more than 134 lakes, is the historical home of wooden canoe craftsmanship, offering everything from the Canadian Canoe Museum, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, boating and swimming, and cruises on the Trent-Severn Waterway.  Elmhirst Resort on Rice Lake, family-run for over a century, is a comfy place to enjoy a lakeside meal or setting in for a few days and enjoy the water, spa, etc.


Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Woodview (Peterborough region) Ontario, Canada


2 thoughts on “At Petroglyphs Provincial Park you see one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in North America, and a few look an awful lot like a Viking vessels!

  1. We will definitely be visiting Petroglyph ‘ s National Park this summer when we are up staying at my sister’s cottage. I have seen the sign for years just before we turn off for the cottage and never thought much about it. My son had to do a Native American project for school this year and along with that we have an interest in fossils and special rocks. We’re looking forward to our excursion this summer#

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