Pictographs & Petroglyphs of the Shuswap, Kootenay & Vancouver Island BC

Pictographs & Petroglyphs of the Shuswap, Kootenay & Vancouver Island BC, an account of visits to various sites in British Columbia’s Shuswap, Kootenay and Vancouver Island regions. In BC, more than 500 examples of either pictographs or petroglyphs (ancient rock paintings or carvings) have been discovered. This is more than any other province in Canada.

Many of the pictograph sites in the Shuswap are found on large rock walls above water and are therefore not easily accessible to everyone. Given how well known some of these sites are to locals and summer tourists boating on the lakes in the region, they are in remarkable good conditions. 

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The Kootenay’s Slocan Lake features more than one dozen sites along is vast rocky shorelines. In the past, there have been reports of some vandalism by a teenage party at Slocan Lake but little information is available on the web about the incident.

Petroglyphs, rock carvings are much more resilient to the impacts of ageing, erosion, weather and people’s activities. On Vancouver Island, a great site is found in Petroglyph Provincial Park, located at the south end of Nanaimo featuring a high concentration of 1,000 year old prehistoric rock carvings. 

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Sproat Lake Provincial Park – One of the finest panels of petroglyphs to be seen in British Columbia is located at the east end of Sproat Lake on central Vancouver Island. One of the park’s most significant features is a panel of petroglyphs called “K’ak’awin” on lakeshore rocks depicting mythological figures.

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A number of well known books have been published on the subject of Pictographs & Petroglyphs of the Shuswap, Kootenay & Vancouver Island BC. In 1968, John Corner, a  Vernon resident wrote Pictographs (Indian Rock Paintings) in the Interior of British Columbia  followed by Annie York, Richard Daly and Chris Arnett in 1993 with They Write Their Dreams on the Rock Forever.

Exploring BC's Pictographs A Guide to Native Rock Art in the British Columbia Interior In 2003 “Exploring BC’s Pictographs” by Simon Nankivell and David Wyse was published by Russel Mussio of Mussio Ventures Ltd. (Backroad Mapbooks). This pictographs book, described as “An explorer’s guide to one of BC’s best kept secrets in the mysterious world of Indian rock paintings” has been apart from other publications as site locations are described in great detail including geographic coordinate information. Sources tell the publication of this book caused discomfort with First Nations peoples in the Interior of BC and that Mussio Ventures, under political pressure sought not to pursue a planned re-print.