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Published: January 25th 2019
Petroglyph Visitor Centre
Informative story telling
Today was oddly interesting, although several times we were lost in Ontario lake country. We left about 10:30 in heavy rain, consoling ourselves that we were only on the 401 Highway anyway. As we drove north through light industrial commerce, the rain lightened and gradually the view was of farms in their light green spring hues. We were successful in navigating around Peterborough
without going through the centre. The tree-lined fields gave a pleasant soft look to the countryside. With lighter rain we could see successive hills into the photogenic distance.
At the town of Lakefield
we actually took all the correct turns in spite of road names that did not correspond to the map and Water Street transforming into George Street that transformed into Lakefield Road. Fields and woods returned to the fore, conducive to chatting and philosophy. Suddenly, Elizabeth made a sharp left turn in response to a tiny sign saying, “Petrogylphs”.
We entered the Petroglyphs Provincial Park
Visitor Centre to buy our permit from a charming man who was quite happy to explain the set-up. The site itself was part of the Ojibwe
culture and was cared for by the Curve Lake First Nation
. The Centre functioned as an interpretive museum to
educate visitors about the spiritual significance and history of the petroglyphs as a whole, as well as the individual carvings of special significance. The actual petroglyphs were a short distance away (through light showers) in a specially designed glass building. Over hundreds of years moss and debris preserved the carvings, but with its uncovering for research and tourism, the site now had to be protected from the elements. The soaring all-glass structure gave the feel of an outdoor site because lights were unnecessary.
Another friendly and knowledgeable fellow filled us in on the history and use of the site. When we said hello, he was making a tough string from the “Leatherwood Bush
”. He told us all about how he was testing the estimates in official books of how much string could be made from one bush. As is traditional, he cut off one of two stems and removed the bark in strips, which dried into a great soft tangle. He used four strips in a counter-twist method to create a very tough string, currently already longer than the academic estimate of 30 feet. He estimated a final string of almost 100 feet in length, which could be used for
Wood in spring
Petrogylphs Provincial Park
snowshoes, bows and tents, virtually without breaking.
We learned that originally at least some of the petroglyphs were almost 3 inches in depth, but erosion of the rock has reduced that to less than half an inch for most carvings. The site was regarded as the Learning Place, as it is now in a different way. Several times a year Ojibwe people come to hold ceremonies and can smudge
any time; it remains a sacred space. The interpretive signs were helpful because the figures were fairly abstract (with smooth elongated lines), and I needed to be told what to see, although the animal and human shapes were then quite obvious. The messenger turtle was clear in its depiction, with bubbles showing its movement through water and sky.
By now it was lunch time, and we had to settle on snacks bought from the gift store, since we hadn’t seen any cafes or restaurants near the turnoff. While we munched potato chips and trail mix, we watched the video to better understand what we had seen. Even though the rain continued, we drove a short way Minnow Lake, a meromictic
lake, in which the layers of water do not
Not even inches below the soil
mix, a result here of the retreat of the glaciers. Fresh woodland smells kept us walking, with umbrellas, to the end of a short path around part of the lake. Silver birches wove dramatic white and black strands through the glowing soft green groves.
Exiting the Park, Elizabeth turned right and found Highway 28. The now familiar scenes of farms and fields were relaxing as we headed towards Curve Lake. Except the scenes weren’t entirely familiar. After almost an hour, Elizabeth saw a sign for Bancroft that she knew was all wrong! Somehow, we had taken a different turn or exit from the Park, plus we came on Highway 6. Even so, I enjoyed the damp green views in reverse and Highway 28 actually provided more views of the nearby lakes. Unfortunately, time had expired for visiting Curve Lake.
Of course, when we came into Lakefield, we were turned around. Even after an injection of caffeine and sugar at Tim Horton’s, we found ourselves on an unfamiliar road. Seeking help at a still open landscaping shop, we were given explicit simple instructions, which in fact led us through the charming old centre of Peterborough and onto the rain-soaked
Elizabeth and Judith
The rain wasn't too bad.
401. In passing we discussed steak and kidney pie, which Elizabeth miraculously later pulled out of her freezer for dinner.
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