Over the Labour Day weekend, one of Canada’s historic landmarks, the Mazinaw Rock, fell victim to vandals who carved their names into its iconic facade. The defacement, an act of desecration, took place on the evening of September 2nd at Bon Echo Provincial Park, approximately 200 kilometres west of Ottawa.
Ontario Parks was informed of the new etchings on the surface of the rock, crudely inscribed using, it’s believed, a stone, in proximity with the ancient Indigenous pictographs. The regrettable episode is under active investigation, with a representative from Ontario Parks condemning the act as “disrespectful” and “destructive.”
The Mazinaw Rock, a revered site among Indigenous people, has always been captivating for its rugged cliffside beauty. “For over a thousand years, people have been drawn to these cliffs,” noted the spokesperson. With the site boasting more than 260 Indigenous pictographs, it undoubtedly possesses profound significance for Indigenous culture, identity, ceremony, and knowledge.
In 1982, Parks Canada officially recognized the Mazinaw Rock’s significance, designating it a historical site. The landmark, named ‘Mazinaw’ after the Algonquin word for ‘picture’ or ‘writing’, is the most significant rock art site within the southern Canadian Shield and is the sole major pictograph site in southern Ontario.
Instances of vandalism and graffiti at Bon Echo Provincial Park are few and far between, according to Ontario Parks, making this blatant act of disregard all the more disheartening. This unfortunate incident comes on the heel of similar defacements at famous landmarks across the globe.
In July, tourists etched their names into Rome’s centuries-old Colosseum, marking the second such violation within a two-month span. A Canadian teenager was also questioned for allegedly defacing the UNESCO-listed Toshodaiji Kondo temple complex in Nara, Japan earlier in the same month.
Due to varying factors attached to the site, methods of non-disruptive restoration can be utilised to rehabilitate the Mazinaw Rock, as indicated by Ontario Parks. Procedures could involve employing biodegradable paint removers, capture absorbents, and professional graffiti removal and restoration services.
Ontario Parks emphasised their commitment to maintaining the integrity and preservation of the site, ensuring that the staff at Bon Echo would be armed with in-depth education and awareness about the site and undergo regular patrols. “Park wardens provide education, conduct regular enforcement patrols, and issue provincial offence notice fines,” the spokesperson added.
The investigation is still underway to uncover more details. However, Ontario Parks has voiced a resolute stance against this type of disheartening behaviour and pledged steadfast efforts to protect the Mazinaw Rock and Bon Echo Provincial Park. “We have a zero-tolerance approach to offences like this,” asserted the spokesperson.
Ontario Parks are appealing to the public for any information regarding these incidents to help maintain the sanctity of these sites. Tips, which can be furnished anonymously, are appreciated and can be directed to Bon Echo Provincial Park at 613 336-2228.