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This Ontario Lake Has Towering Cliffs & You Can Paddle Past Ancient Indigenous Drawings

It's one of the largest collections in Canada!

Ottawa Staff Writer
Canoeing past Mazinaw Rock's Indigenous drawings. Right: Canoe route in Bon Echo park.

Canoeing past Mazinaw Rock's Indigenous drawings. Right: Canoe route in Bon Echo park.

Grab your paddles, a canoe route of scenic waters, towering cliffs and ancient writings awaits you in Ontario.

Bon Echo Provincial Park has a number of sandy beaches, hiking trails and canoe routes, one of which you can see a kilometre-long collection of Indigenous symbols called pictographs.

You can rent a canoe from the park's Paddle Centre or bring your own to launch into the lake and head toward Mazinaw Rock, a 91-metre tall cliffside where you'll spot the Indigenous drawings from the water.

Over 260 Indigenous pictographs were painted on the side of this giant rock face a few feet above the water, many we can still see today. These reddish symbols and writings can only be seen from the lake and you'll spot a number of different images. Look for images of people with canoes, spirits and animals, including turtles.

There are two canoe routes that pass the pictograph writings on the lakeside cliffs. The Mazinaw Lake route is the most direct paddle to the rock, on the eastern part of the lake, in order to see these symbols. The Kishkebus Canoe Route is currently closed due to storm damage, but when reopened, it's a 21-kilometre day paddle that includes a portage section.

In addition to these historic writings, the rock features ancient cedar trees and wildflowers and is also home to birds like the Peregrine Falcon that you may spot while canoeing.

The red and orange pictographs are thought to have been added to the rock over the course of hundreds of years. Some may be from 300 years ago and other symbols as old as 1000 years. This sacred area is believed to be the home of many spirits. The images are thought to be made by spiritual leaders or Indigenous people who had visions here. Each drawing has its own meaning.

The park asks that visitors do not climb the rock and avoid touching the pictographs. This is a sacred Indigenous site and the park asks that respect be shown to the area.

Mazinaw Lake, Bon Echo Provincial Park

Price: $12.25 per vehicle

When: May 13 to October 16, 2022

Address: 16151 Hwy. 41, Cloyne, ON

Why You Need To Go: You can paddle a beautiful lake in this Ontario park, passing massive cliff faces that have one of the largest collections of historic Indigenous pictograph symbols in Canada.

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