Discovering Rock Art – A Personal Journey with Tribal Elders


Ancient images intrigue us across northern Ontario—at Fairy Point on Missinaibi Lake, the Peterborough Petroglyphs Teaching Rock, Kennedy Island on the French River, Collins Inlet on Lake Huron, Ninth Lake on the Spanish River, Artery Lake in northwestern Ontario, Agawa Rock on Lake Superior, Diamond Lake in the Temagami wilderness, Quetico’s Darkwater Lake and the Pothole site on Little Missinaibi Lake. These ancient pictograph and petroglyphs are well known and accessible in provincial parks. What do these red ochre images mean?

“One word on the rocks is a heck of a lot of meaning. It’s like shorthand. It’s an effort on your soul by spirits. You become uncontrolled.” – Fred Pine, Lake Superior Ojibwa shaman (1897 to 1992)

In Discovering Rock Art, the voices of elders reveal Ojibwa family traditions, legends and oral histories to bring ancient rock art to life. We learn about shamanic activities, vision quests, the spirit world, the fairy folk and tribal warfare as the basis of many pictographs.

Thor Conway shares rare oral histories, legends and personal experiences collected during 45 years of working with Ojibwa, Odawa, and Algonkian tribal elders. Discovering Rock Art presents the voices of shamans, healers and visionaries who retained vital knowledge about the mysterious images preserved on cliffs and wanted this knowledge available to future generations.