Sacred site of the Agawa Bay Pictographs

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By Adam Leith Gollner
 
Nestled in the landscapes that inspired the Group of Seven, there’s an even more monumental work of art—spanning centuries and inviting the deepest questions
 
I’m standing on a narrow ledge of rock overhanging Lake Superior.
 

A sheer 15-story-high cliff soars above me, its crystalline granite face adorned with the most important, and most mysterious, public work of art in Canada. The silhouette of a creature at eye level peers back out. It doesn’t have eyes, but it sees me. Its eternal head is cocked to the side in curiosity, as though trying to make out whatever it is that anyone gazing upon it is also trying to fathom. A red ochre chimera, it has large feline paws, quizzical bullhorns, and the body of a dragon, with sharp spines ridging its back and tail. 

Meet Mishipeshu: the Great Lynx, the Underwater Wildcat, the Fabulous Night Panther. This pictograph is an enigma that has stood here for eons. And Mishipeshu isn’t alone; there are over a hundred other images at Agawa Rock, a sacred lakeside site located in Lake Superior Provincial Park, around 150 km north of Sault Ste. Marie. 

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