September 22, 2020
Petroglyph is a word combined from ‘petra’ – stone and ‘glyphein’ – to carve, thus it means a carving in stone.
On the southern coastline of Vancouver Island is a beautiful regional park—East Sooke Park—where, at Alldridge Point, you will find petroglyphs created by the T’Sou-ke First Nations, a Coast Salish people. Harlan I. Smith, archaeologist with Geological Survey of Canada (which is now the Canadian Museum of Civilization), spent many years excavating and investigating potential archaeological sites across Canada, including most of those in British Columbia. He wrote many of the earliest accounts along the B.C. coastline. In 1923 he documented the petroglyphs at Alldridge Point. And in 1927 the petroglyphs at Alldridge Point were designed a provincial heritage site.
No-one knows how old they are, but they are believed to be thousands of years old. What I do know is that locations for petroglyphs were carefully chosen and usually represented places of power or mystery. Petroglyphs were made for a variety of reasons—special events (battles, hunting), marking territory, sacred sites, noting a special spirit, vision quests and more.
The Alldridge Point petroglyphs are subject to the natural forces of erosion—washing tides, abrasion of sand and gravel, wind, sun, rain, frost and vegetation (lichens and the like). No-one knows how long they will last. Harlan Smith had noted in his report of what appeared to be a fish above the seal. In this image, that fish is not longer there.