Many pictographs have been found on isolated boulders and rocky outcrops along the foothills near Calgary.At WRITING-ON-STONE Provincial Park in southern Alberta, there is an extensive series of small-scale petroglyphs incised on the sandstone bluffs of the Milk River.Several broad regions of rock art "style areas" have been distinguished, including the Maritimes, the Canadian Shield, the Prairies, British Columbia and the Arctic.The Maritime provinces count many rock art sites that are usually attributed to the Mi'kmaq (MICMAC).Images include animals eg, (caribou, moose, birds, snakes), anthropomorphic figures, hunting and fishing scenes, footprints and fingerprints, and ornamental designs that are also found on these people's clothes.In addition to this traditional iconography, there are also images of European origin, such as firearms, churches and Christian designs, as well as beautiful representation of sailboats.Although the majority of the images were traced with the finger, some could be executed with brushes made of animal or vegetal fibres.
No foolproof method for the precise dating of rock art has been discovered, other than speculative association with stratified, relatively datable archaeological remains.
For instance, the battle between Thunderbird and the Horned Snake is often depicted as the bird killing the reptile with lightning, which is materialized in the composition by a seam of quartz.
Other iconographic themes also appear regularly: a figure with horns or rabbit ears accompanied by a wolf probably represents NANABOZO and his brother Wolf; and a snake or Mishipeshu under a canoe shows the danger of those fantastic beings, which tip canoes and drown their passengers.
Radiocarbon dating at the Nisula site along Lac Cassette, Québec, indicated that the paintings were made about 2000 years ago.
The geographic distribution of rock art sites and the iconographic themes that are represented seem to indicate that carvings and paintings on the rocks of the Canadian Shield were produced by the ancestors of Algonquian populations (eg, OJIBWA, CREE, INNU).
They depict spiritual icons such as Thunderbird or shaman figures.