Rock Art on Gabriola Island in 1792

Descanso Bay Rock Art, 1792. Source: U. Washington

From the University of Washington, an unexpected image of a large Gabriola Island rockshelter containing rock art, entititled:

Northwest Coast carvings on cliff near Descanso Bay, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, in engraving made 1792.

Cardero, Jose, b. 1767 or 8

Notes: Photograph of engraving of explorers and indians viewing a carved head and other petroglyphs on the side of a cliff. The caption says it is a view of a natural gallery, one hundred feet long, and ten feet wide near Descanso Bay.

Caption on image: Vista de una galeria natural, ce cien pies de largo y diez de ancho, en la inmediacion del puerto del Descanso, en el estrecho de Juan de Fuca Image from Alessandro Malaspina’s Viaje politico-cientifico alrededor del mundo, 1885, f.p. 200

I presume this is the “Malaspina Galleries” near the ferry terminal – I didn’t know there was rock art there though and maybe there isn’t, anymore.  Perhaps this place, or this one? Or, perhaps the unusual pitted and pocked natural sandstone fooled the Spanish, though it sure looks like there is a large image in the middle of that engraving.   Quick, Gabriolans, trot down there and check it out.

Malaspina Galleries, Gabriola Island. Photo: Kevin Oke.

5 responses to “Rock Art on Gabriola Island in 1792

  1. I will trot down and have a look. If I had to guess just from what’s shown in the engraving, I’d say it’s of the Malaspina Galleries. I’ve been there many times and have never noticed any rock art. Hmm! Will take a very close look now, and will also go look at a the other places you’ve suggested as possibilities.


  2. Pingback: Rock art on Gabriola in 1792

  3. In the galleries photo, 2/3rds of the way across the top there appears to be something that resembles a petroglyph, isn’t there? It certainly looks like sacred ground to me, but then again I’m not familiar with Gabriola island. I would love to check it out sometime, though.


  4. Looks like the gabriolan’s blog is working on this now! Pip pip, Gabriolans.

    Chris, certainly on the engraving it looks like there is a prominent design – my experience would suggest this would be a pictograph, since they were preferentially on vertical faces under overhangs, while petroglyphs tend to be on horizontal bedrock or on boulders; rarely on vertical bedrock. In the gallery photograph I don’t see much of a design, there are pinkish areas which I think are reflected sunset or something…


  5. I might add, in such a superbly sheltered location I would certainly anticipate that a pictograph could last for 200 years, unless the rock is exfoliating.


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