Government of Canada Commemorates the National Historic Significance of Mazinaw Pictographs 

News release

Southern Ontario’s only major pictograph site

August 16, 2019                        Pikwàkanagàn, Ontario                     Parks Canada Agency

Over the years, Indigenous artists left their mark on a rock cliff at Mazinaw Lake using red ochre to create figures of animals, humans, and geometric symbols.

Today, Dr. Richard Alway commemorated the national historic significance of Mazinaw Pictographs with a ceremony to unveil a plaque at the annual Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn traditional pow-wow. The announcement was made on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna.

Mazinaw Pictographs is the largest complex rock art site on the southern Canadian Shield and the only major pictograph site in Southern Ontario. The 260 rock art paintings, spread out over 65 rock faces along a 2.5 km stretch of a great cliff rising out of the water is an awe inspiring site.  

Parks Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that honours the contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationship Indigenous peoples have with traditional lands and waters.

The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant people – including the invaluable contributions of Indigenous people – places and events, that have shaped the  country and it is one way to help Canadians connect with their past.


“The pictographs attest to the traditions and storytelling techniques of the Algonquin and other Indigenous creators, and to their ancestral link to this special place. National historic designations commemorate all aspects of Canada's history. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster better understanding of Canada’s history.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Quick facts

  • Located within Bon Echo Provincial Park, the Mazinaw Pictographs 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.

  • Both Mazinaw Lake and Mazinaw Rock get their name from the Algonquin word “Mazinaw” meaning “picture” or “writing”.

  • Established in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on the historic importance of persons, places, and events that have shaped Canada’s history. 

  • The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has taken steps to increase the number of Indigenous designations under the National Program of Historical Commemoration. To date, there are 144 National Historic Sites that commemorate Indigenous themes, 67 Indigenous persons, and 58 Indigenous events that have been designated as of national historic significance, but more can be done.

  • The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada is celebrating its centennial year in 2019. National historic designations are of profound importance as they illustrate our country's defining moments. Each of these designations contributes its own unique story to the greater story of Canada and helps us better understand our country and our identity. 

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Bruce MacMillan
Public Relations & Communications Officer
Georgian Bay and Ontario East Field Unit
Parks Canada Agency
613-923-5261 extension 122

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

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