The high concentration of prehistoric rock carvings is the main attraction at Petroglyph Park, located at the south end of Nanaimo. Visitors can get a glimpse back to a time more than 1,000 years ago, when First Nations peoples created these traditional carvings.
Locations for rock art carvings were chosen carefully, and were almost always made at places of power or mystery. Places where the forces of nature were believed to be especially strong. These areas are usually marked by natural features such as waterfalls, rock formations or caves, and most are near water.
A short walkway leads from the parking lot to an interpretive area with information boards that offer details about the history of the area and help to decipher the petroglyphs. The images (depicting everything from mystical wolf-like creatures to fish and human figures) were made for a variety of reasons, including territorial ownership and to commemorate special events among a people with no written language. The sandstone gallery of petroglyphs, located on a hill overlooking Nanaimo Harbour, is just a short distance from the interpretive area along the walkway.
Concrete replica castings of the petroglyphs can be found in the main interpretation area. Here, visitors can make rubbings of the castings by stretching cloth or paper across the carving and lightly rubbing with a crayon, charcoal or wax, which leaves a reverse imprint. These rubbings make a great souvenir of a visit to this intriguing and educational park.