The Painted Rock Nature Reserve

The Thunder Bay Field Naturalists purchased the Painted Rock Nature Reserve in 2008.

The Reserve consists of 108 acres of land southwest of the City of Thunder Bay. The property completely surrounds a 32 acre lake. This is a site with unique biological and cultural features including several pictographs. The lake is surrounded by high rock cliffs and some wetlands, with two inflow and one outflow creeks, all with beaver dams. The property is mostly mature forest with many large white pines. The Ministry of Natural Resource's NHIC database also records the presence of a provincially rare violet, Viola epipsila, growing at this lake.

The rock paintings are both famous and unusual. They are pictured on the cover of the book, Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes by Selwyn Dewdney and Kenneth Kidd. The culture responsible for the rock art has not been identified but the drawings have been determined to be several hundred years old. They are acknowledged in research documented at the Royal Ontario Museum to be some of the most striking, detailed and well preserved pictographs that have been found in Northwestern Ontario. The pictographs are of national significance.

The most famous pictograph on the Painted Rock Lake

The previous owner of this property was a land developer who had already obtained permission to put a road into the site and had plans to subdivide the property into building lots. The property is not road accessible and this has been key to protecting both the pictographs and the natural heritage features of the site. After negotiating a purchase price for this property of $170,000 we applied for a number of grants through various private foundations and government programs to help with the purchase costs and were successful in our efforts. A special thank you to the EJLB Foundation and the McLean Foundation for their generous support of this acquisition.

We do not maintain any trails on the property. Motorized vehicles, including snowmobiles, ATVs, and dirt bikes are not allowed. Hiking, snowshoeing, and nature appreciation are permitted.

"Supported by the Greenlands Challenge – a partnership funded by
the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and administered jointly by the ministry
and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help conserve Ontario’s biodiversity”.