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Cultural Heritage

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Pictographs at Cliff LakeThe roots of the name ‘Wabakimi’ may be found in the Ojibway words Waubishkaugimi (meaning “whitewater”) or Wabishkkegin (meaning “the sheet is white”). Whitewater heralds the rapids on rivers with historic names such as Ogoki and Pikitigushi. The “sheet is white” may allude to the infinite sparkle of diamonds dancing across lakes with romantic names like Onamakawash and Shabuskwia. The variety and beauty of Wabakimi’s many lakes and rivers surely permit either interpretation or some combination of both to reflect the true meaning of the name Wabakimi.

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Wabakimi Provincial Park is situated on the traditional lands of several First Nation and Aboriginal communities.

The park waterways have been travelled for centuries by the Ojibway and most portages in the region have evolved from this historic use. Ancient campsites, artifacts and pictograph (rock painting) sites found throughout the park tell some of the Wabakimi story.

Evidence suggests that people have called Wabakimi ‘home’ for about 7000 years, ranging throughout the area in small family groups, stopping where fish and game were plentiful, or the berries ripe. To survive, these people needed an in-depth understanding and appreciation for their environment.

beaver1.JPG (10428 bytes)Over time, trade routes and meeting places became established. Groups of several families would gather on the shores of large lakes to share fishing and hunting chores, gather berries and other foods in preparation for the winter, and hold social and religious celebrations. In late summer and early fall, the groups would split into smaller family units and would again disperse to hunt and trap for the winter. Transportation in summer was by birch bark canoe, in winter by dog sled and snowshoe. Clothing was quite elaborate, likely made of caribou, moose or beaver skins and decorated with porcupine quills and dyes. Shelter was provided by wigwams constructed of birch bark or hides.

It was a challenging life, with bitterly cold winters and buggy summers. But it had northern lights, warm summers, peace and quiet, and it was home. Visitors to Wabakimi may ‘discover’ old trails, historical artifacts, and habitation and pictograph sites.

bad_medicine_lake-16.JPG (40431 bytes)There are also other sites which were used for ceremonial purposes and sites which are sacred to the First Nations people of the area. Please ensure that you show respect for these values and sites. Please do not touch the pictographs, as the acids in your fingertips will destroy them. Please note that it is illegal to disturb or remove archaeological artifacts.

The establishment of Wabakimi Provincial Park will not affect Aboriginal and treaty rights. Aboriginal people will continue to enjoy traditional activities such as hunting, fishing, trapping, and wild rice harvesting in the park, and will have a significant role in the development of the Park Management Plan.

Several communities hold festivals and pow wows to which the public are welcome. All of them offer opportunities to experience their culture, to learn from them, and to enjoy their hospitality and services.


Wabakimi is one of over 270 parks in the Ontario Parks System.

Wabakimi is one of over 270 parks in the Ontario Parks System. Click here to visit the Ontario Parls Website - www.OntarioParks.com
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