Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Rock Stacking People

One of my Flickr friends recently posted a photo of rocks stacked on a beach in Nova Scotia and wrote this: "This is how you know Canadians are near. They are a rock stacking people and I had been following there tracks for days when I came upon a fresh stack, to bad I was not able to see them doing this ritual but I will keep looking and hopping they will find me friendly and share whit me there ways ;)"

I was really surprised because even though he resides in the deep south, he has travelled quite a lot in The Great White North, but hadn't yet figured out the stacked rocks and the Canadian propensity for stacking them.

In point of fact, we are so fond of stacking rocks that my wife made me a miniature a few years ago.

It doesn't stay in the flowerpot although it certainly doesn't go amiss there; I just put it there to take a photo. BTW the flag is present because Canada Day is coming up. We get all patriotic for Canada Day and put flags up all over the place, but, being Canadian, we also take them down on the next day or so. Anyway, the stack of rocks usually sits on the bookshelf behind me.

The stack is an Inukshuk, or at least our representation of one. Sue and I first became aware of them when we travelled across much of Canada in 2000. Along the Trans Canada highway, particularly in northern Ontario, we would see myriad stackings of rocks. We soon discovered that they were Inukshuks.

An Inukshuk, somewhat resembles a human figure (on a good day, depending on the artist) and was a type of marker used by the Inuit of northern Canada. Inukshuks may mark direction or other important things such as a burial site or point to good fishing etc. Somewhere along the line, Canadians everywhere embraced Inukshuks, and we are prone to build little replicas along highways, on beaches, or wherever the mood strikes.

After that trip I purchased a little Inukshuk for Sue to commemorate the journey. It is an authentic Inuit carving — out of soapstone, I think. It's small and fits into my hand nicely. It was expensive enough at that size.

This one, bought by my daughter as a souvenir from her own western trip is even smaller: about the size of my thumb.

Of course, they can also be quite grandiose. There is one by English Bay in Vancouver where my other daughter now lives. I have been out there twice and grabbed a few snaps.

Sue and the pigeons
Me with the girls, trying to point like an Inukshuk
A night shot
So, that is the story of Canadians being "a rock stacking people."


Shammickite said...

I like these inukshuks, in fact I have stacked a few myself. There's a big one sitting on my neighbour's front steps.
BTW, your Flickr friend can't spell!

Country Gal said...

Proud to be Canadian ! I have seen these as well up in northern Ontario . Wonderful photos and info for those who have never seen them or may not know of their meaning and history ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

Jimmie Earl said...

My town is built on a limestone deposit, so rock gathering is no problem. I decided, that in your and Sue's honor, I will build an Inukshuk in a flower bed. Will send photo. A little bit of "good neighbor policy" in the making.
Interesting and informative, AC, thanks!

TexWisGirl said...

so cute. they are a bit different than the cairns i see in other lands. :)

Gail Dixon said...

I had no idea about rock stacking people. Those are really neat carvings and cute pics of the fam!

Mara said...

Wasn't it the symbol used for the Vancouver Olympics a few years ago as well? I seem to remember something like that anyway.

Indrani said...

The tiny ones look cute, ideal as a souvenir. Glad to know about these inukshuks. :)

Mage said...

Oh, you make me smile.

Chicken said...

Walk like an Inukshut....walk like an inukshuk....
I did not know about them. I am always making little cairns wherever I go. Seems like the more different we all are, the more we are the same.

Regenia said...

I knew nothing about these! So glad you blogged about them. I'll have to read up on them!