Over the recent Labour Day weekend, one of Canada’s cherished landmarks fell victim to senseless vandalism. Difficult as it may be to fathom, individuals decided to inscribe their names into the iconic Mazinaw Rock, situated in Bon Echo Provincial Park – a serene oasis roughly 200 kilometres west of Ottawa. The deplorable act occurred as the sun began to set on the evening of Sept. 2.
Upon being alerted to the deep, fresh carvings tarnishing the face of Mazinaw Rock – ostensibly inflicted with a basic stone, it was noted that the transgressions disturbingly were in proximity to eminent ancient Indigenous pictographs.
An agency representative expressed Ontario Parks’ collective abhorrence, denouncing the act as both “disrespectful” and “destructive”. The incident is receiving a thorough investigation. The representative went on to underscore the profound cultural significance of Mazinaw Rock, stating: “For Indigenous communities, this rock holds a sacred aura. Time and again, people have been irresistibly drawn to the rugged beauty of its cliffs. The innumerable (over 260) Indigenous pictographs adorning Mazinaw Rock afford it great importance to knowledge dissemination, ceremonies, spiritual engagements, and the preservation of cultural identity.”
In 1982, Parks Canada fittingly designated Mazinaw Rock a historic site. Mazinaw, an Algonquin term denoting “picture” or “writing”, is the greatest rock art site in the southern ridge of the Canadian Shield and the singular extensive pictograph site in southern Ontario. A nugget of information nestled within Parks Canada’s online repository.
While Ontario Parks does candidly concur that instances of vandalism and graffiti at Bon Echo are considered relatively rare, each occurrence still inflicts a profoundly “extreme disappointment”. This most recent act joins a mounting list of similar acts of vandalism at esteemed international landmarks.
In a spate of similar affronts, two visitors defaced Rome’s iconic Colosseum in July, mere moments after another nearly identical incident. Early on in July’s litany of vandalism, a 17-year-old Canadian found himself under investigation for allegedly vandalizing the UNESCO-endorsed Toshodaiji Kondo temple complex, nestled in Nara, Japan.
Depending upon contributing factors such as the environmental context, graffiti type and incident location, it’s feasible to employ non-invasive removal procedures to restore Mazinaw Rock’s defaced sections to their former glory. Ontario Parks mentions the potential use of biodegradable paint removers, specialised absorbents, plus professional graffiti and restoration services.
As a safeguard against future incidents, Bon Echo personnel intend to bolster the current education and awareness programs detailing the site’s immense history and the necessity for its protection. The spokesperson disclosed that park wardens carry out regular enforcement patrols, deliver informative education, and occasion provincial offence notices should infringements materialise.
Ontario Parks reaffirms that the investigation continues, pledging to acquire greater insight into the situation while maintaining a staunch zero-tolerance stance against any such transgressions to safeguard the hallowed ground of Bon Echo Provincial Park and Mazinaw Rock.