Rocks that Teach – Canada Adventure Day 4

Family picture at another beautiful lake nearby. On Tuesday of our trip, we took a morning outing to see the local Petroglyphs near Peterborough, Ontario. What I had expected to be only interesting turned out to be downright inspiring!

This must be the place! The petroglyphs are ancient carvings in rock, estimated to be between 500 and 1100 years old. Their origin is debated, but generally accepted to be from the native Algonquian Indians, who call them Kinomagewapkong, or “the Teaching Rocks”. At first glance they appear to be a confusing jumble of shapes, lines, and figures that one would suppose to be based on superstition. But thinking of the effort that one would have to take to deeply etch something in stone makes me think that it may be something more. Mom pointed something out to me that I had not noticed. There was a carving of a boat with eight figures in it, one was very large, three were shorter, and four were smaller yet. “Wow” I thought, “The flood in ancient records once again!”

There were also carvings of snakes, which are thought of as evil enemies Tim holding a snake we found. coming from beneath. That obviously reminded me of Satan and those that belong to him. As Jesus said, “Ye are from beneath… of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” (John 8:23 and 44 and also 1 Peter 5:8). The powerful thunderbird is thought of as the guardian of the people, creating lightning and thunder and wind. The fog is said to be his clothing, and when the fog is very thick, Thunderbird has come down to consume the enemy. In Scripture, David wrote of Jehovah being his fortress, deliver, refuge, and savior who came down from above with thunder and lightning, wrapped in dark waters and thick clouds of the skies, delivering him from his enemy that was too strong for him (2 Samuel 22:1-28). Jehovah also came down with lightning, thunder and smoke on Mount Sinai to deliver His law (Ex. 20:18).

Then there was the “Nanabush”. I read about it quickly and moved on. Later Daniel excitedly told me what I had not noticed. Why had I not seen it?! He is a respected “spirit” who taught the Algonquian people to hunt and fish. Wasn’t it Jesus who said follow Me and I will make you fishers of men? He possesses supernatural power, and his greatest gift was showing them how to use plants for medicine. Wasn’t Christ not only the healer, but the giver of both eternal life and access to the tree of life? (Rev. 22:1 and 14) He was said to have a human mother and a spirit father – the virgin birth! He also has the power of transformation, accepting the limitations of the form it takes. It was Jesus Christ who “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, event the death of the cross” Phil. 2:7-8. See also Hebrews 4:15. Furthermore, some have even called “Nanabush” a trickster, just as the Lord Jesus was and is falsely accused – Mark 3:22 and Matthew 28:11-15.

A higher perspectiveSearching for answers It was amazing to see remnants of the gospel right  there, coarsely portrayed in the stone and in the unwritten Algonquian teachings handed down through the generations. It makes me wonder: could Ontario’s native people have known the gospel in the past? Was that the important thing they wanted to pass on to their descendants? Could it be that their ancient wisdom knew what was needed for the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life, and could they have been looking for Christ to be the fulfillment of it? If the carvings are European then perhaps the good news had come to them and they had attempted to record it for their children. Some day, I believe, we will know; perhaps when the glory and honor of the nations is brought into the holy Jerusalem (Rev. 21:26). This we know for certain, that Jehovah is God, and He offers eternal salvation to all people through the gift of His only begotten Son.Pickerel Frog! Mushrooms everywhere  :)A great game with great families later that day.


  1. Cathy Van Essen August 27, 2008 at 7:33 am #

    Wow! Your family does a great job with this website. It’s been a pleasure reading each day’s account of your visit with us. Thanks, Michael, for the refreshing insight about the Petroglyphs. What a great witness we can have here. James, you take excellent pictures! especially of mushrooms!:) By the way, Donna, WE are the ones who were so spiritually refreshed! Your family’s influence will stay with us for a long time inspiring us to make personal commitments to such things as “no negative comments or complaints”, “use your time wisely (Roberts favorite saying”:), etc.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. James August 27, 2008 at 10:12 am #

    Very well put, Michael. It was exciting to see a deeper meanings in the petroglyphs. I wonder how many other symbols had Scriptural meaning behind them that we knew not of?

  3. Crystal August 27, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    Oh how neat! It’s good that y’all could make out what some of the symbols were.
    Somewhere in W.Va. there are some rocks with the 10 Commandments carved on them from some ancient indians. I don’t remember the time frame, however I do remember that it was before Columbas “discovered America”.
    When my mom & I were in Arizona I saw petroglyphs. The way they were positioned I couldn’t make out what they were very well.

  4. James August 31, 2008 at 7:38 pm #

    Mrs. Van Essen
    Yeah, it was so much fun taking pictures around y’alls place. Remember though, it was you and Timothy who showed me where the mushrooms where, 🙂 and it was Michael who identified the uncommon Pickerel Frog, and Robert was the one who took the picture of me looking over the lake, and it was Maranda who took our family portrait!
    So, covering an event is never done singlehandedly; it is the result of many people working together!

  5. Robert September 2, 2008 at 10:16 pm #

    Very well written and thought provoking, Mike!

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