Petroglyph Way


short and straignt

Petroglyph Way, at the end of Crocker Road, is in the middle of lots of large acreages. The small trail that connects it to South Road is not visible in this image.

  This short road was put in in the late 90′s to serve three large acreages created after some of the fabled ‘Weldwood’ lands were sold and developed.   Since some known petroglyphs were not far away, it was expected that some would be found on this land.     When the logging took place, large areas of smooth sandstone -an ideal canvas for stone carvings -were exposed. Experts from the University of Victoria came up to search the land for any signs of the ancient graffiti.  They found nothing and approved the subdivision.  

The real trail  is a narrow dedicated right-of-way that runs from the new road, between the acreages, to the site of some of the island’s most accessible petroglyphs, on the land adjacent to the United Church on South Road.    Although the strip of land was dedicated by the developer, hands-on members of the  local trails organization (GALTT)  maintain the trail through it.   By connecting to South Road, the trail is an important link in a series of trails  that allow hikers and cyclists to get up and down the island and stay off the beaten track.

fine trail starts here

This trail leads towards South Road from Petroglyph Way

If you want to get a sense of how long it takes Gabriola to regenerate, take a walk down this trail.   The land it passes through was cleared of all marketable timber in late 1996.  All that remained standing were a scant few fir trees, some arbutus, and a smattering of alder and maple.     Fourteen years later, much of it is looking pretty lush.  One of the acreages is being turned into a ‘Small Species Sanctuary’  by its owner, who rescued it from being totally overgrown by the invasive broom – which he spent months pulling out by hand.   With some simple techniques – primarily seeding the open land with some grains/grasses,  the land is attracting lots of wildlife up and down the food chain, and becoming a gorgeous patch of gulf island ecosystem.   It is different than the old forest, but no less beautiful.

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Long-time Gabriola Island resident over 21 years of age.

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08 2010

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  1. nick #

    The idea that large areas of smooth sandstone make an “ideal canvas” for petroglyphs comes naturally when we regard them as “works of art”. Yet, petroglyphs are seldom found on unfractured rock. So fixed was my thinking, that it took me many hours of pondering and puzzling before it struck me that the reason for this must be that fractures were not seen by the carver as “flaws”, but are elements of the composition. But what contribution did they make? Although fractures are sometimes used in the carving in a way that is obvious to us — the mouth of a “dragon” — in many other cases they just run right through the work, apparently in no particular direction. Again, it took me many hours of measuring and many memorable winter rainy days to figure out that the carver often knew the exact direction of east-west and north-south, and that in many cases, far too many for it to be co-incidence, the orientation of the petroglyphs had been chosen to be related to both the geographic directions and the directions of the fractures. The symbolism was thus of humankind halfway between the heavens (as defined by the sun) and the earth (as defined by the fractures). The technical details of this research is written up in about ten articles in various issues of SHALE. My theories are not widely accepted by the archaeological community, I suspect because they are not accustomed to reading engineering, celestial, and geological analyses, and the “they’re only art (or graffiti)” idea is too firmly entrenched, but I have seen enough to convince me without a shadow of doubt that I am right.

  2. Gabriolore #

    Your theory on the petroglyphs and the details of their relationship to the fractured rock is indeed thought-provoking Nick, and thank you for your insights. I believe there is other evidence that indicates that the culture that created the petroglyphs did indeed have a clear understanding of exactly where they were in relationship to their topography and the physical world around them. We may have more to learn from them than we realize.

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