I wrote an interesting story about a Lanark Cave a few months ago Mystery of the Lanark Cave — Lanark Village and this week I came across stories of a cliff rock with Indigenious markings called Missanoga Rock and could not find much about it– so I started to dig more.
It seemed it was called Missanoga Rock, Bon Echo Rock was Mazinaw Rock. Even in the history of the rock called the Gilbraltar of Canada there was mention of it being called Missanoga Rock. But it was, and even the Bon Echo Lodge called it that. In my confusion I had no idea as I had already written about the Mazinaw Rock–read Where Was Meyers Cave?
The history goes that Missanoga Rock/Mazinaw Rock rises 330 feet from the placid surface of Ontario’s Lake Mazinaw. This majestic rock has lured travelers for centuries, beginning with the Algonquin Indians who, on this rock, documented pieces of their lives, some hundreds of years ago. So we know In total, the Algonquins painted over 260 pictographs on this rock, using red ochre, a natural mineral, mixed with animal oil–creating the largest collection of its kind, in Southern Ontario. Mazinaw comes from “Mazinaabikinigan-zaaga’igan,” meaning “painted-image lake” in Algonquian– and I fear we will never know why it was called Missanoga.
In 1880, 1892, and 1895 a few local private journeys were made to Missanoga Rock. In those days it was so renowned and any journey was documented in the local newspapers. The gentlemen on one exhursion in 1892 were not believed, and the newspaper reported the local gossip that “they probably only made it as far as Innisville and camped out in the Innisville Hotel.”
1892 Carleton Place
Sept 11,1895- Party of Caldwell and Drummond
THE CANOE TRIP TO MISSANOGA
Part 1- Sept 11 1895
18 Sep 1895— Part 2
CLIPPED FROMThe Lanark EraLanark, Ontario, Canada18 Sep 1895, Wed • Page 2
September 25,1895— Part 3 They reach the rock–
Was this the Joe Baye he was talking about? Joe Baye — Donna Sweeney Lowry
There is also a massive fading tribute to Walt Whitman etched into the rock.
Bon Echo Inn
Flora MacDonald Denison, an Ontario-based inn owner called The Bon Echo Inn had her favorite poet’s words etched forever into a granite cliff. Mac-Donald-Denison decided to model her quiet piece of paradise after the spiritual humanism and democratic idealism of her poet hero, Walt Whitman. She started The Whitman Club at the inn and a small number of people in the Canadian arts world began to see Mazinaw Lake as a retreat.
In the sultry summers of the 1920s, however, bohemian holidayers from Toronto, controversial young artists like Arthur Lismer and A.Y. Jackson, emerging authors, influential journalists having frolicked for some days or weeks in a rustic idyll beneath the great Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo would converge on what was then Tweed’s Orange Hall to stage one of Merrill Denison’s “rollicking” entertainments.
It took a full day to make the 55-kilometre trip from Bon Echo. The amateur thespians would squeeze into Denison’s McLaughlin Buick for the bone-bruising drive along a dirt road (now Highway 41) to Kaladar where they’d catch a train to Tweed. The merrymakers would mount a quick rehearsal in the Orange Hall auditorium before bedding down in a local hotel.
There are old CBC radio Interviews with Merrill Denison speaking about the bygone days of the Bon Echo Inn and about the curious mysticism that surrounded the place (there are references to seances and ghosts etc) . When I saw clippings of the register I realized that these guests were the very best of the Canadian arts society. I think occultism was much more a part of the mainstream arts culture back then. It kept reminding me of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining…read-The Devil’s Telephone? The Ouija Board or Strange Stories from the Past
Denison was already a successful Toronto business woman when she took over ownership of the Bon Echo Inn in 1910. An early feminist Denison had started the Canadian Suffrage Association with a number of like-minded female activists, and was also a staunch proponent of the arts, especially writing. When she and her husband took over the Bon Echo Inn, she turned it into a haven for artists and thinkers, a quiet place in the Ontario wilderness where they could work and relax. Read more here click