Vintage Photographs From Writing-On-Stone (Áísínai’pi)

Writing-On-Stone/Áísínai'pi Provincial Park

Writing-On-Stone is a provincial park in the southeast corner of Alberta near the Montana border. Vast open prairies meet endless sky before giving way to an otherworldly landscape in the Milk River Valley. The area is famous for the largest collection of First Nation rock art on the Great Plains of North America. Situated in the heart of the Blackfoot’s traditional territory the entire valley and beyond holds great cultural and spiritual significance for their People. Known as Áísínai’pi in the Blackfoot language, the park is aptly named as it roughly translates to “it is pictured/written”.

Writing-On-Stone is one of my favourite places in the province and I have had the privilege of visiting several times over the years. For more information about the modern-day park please refer to my previous story, Written In Stone. Sadly, many of the valley’s famed rock art pieces have been badly vandalized, leading to much of the park being off-limits to the public as it is considered an archaeological preserve. Below is a series of historical photos, before the days of the preserve, dating as far back as 1893. I hope you enjoy this trip to the past.

Vintage Photographs From Writing-On-Stone (Áísínai'pi)
North-West Mounted Police detachment, Writing-On-Stone, Alberta, 1897
Vintage Photographs From Writing-On-Stone (Áísínai'pi)
Hunters’ camp, Writing-On-Stone, Alberta, 1896-1899
Vintage Photographs From Writing-On-Stone (Áísínai'pi)
North-West Mounted Policeman post, Writing-On-Stone, Alberta, 1893
Vintage Photographs From Writing-On-Stone (Áísínai'pi)
North-West Mounted Policeman at St. Mary’s detachment, Writing-On-Stone, Alberta, 1893
Pictographs at Writing-on-Stone, Alberta, 1895
Hanging scene, Writing-on-Stone, Alberta, n.d.
Group at Writing-on-Stone, Alberta, 1949
Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, Milk River, Alberta, 1924-1949
Writing-on-Stone, Milk River, Alberta, 1928
Writing-on-Stone, Milk River, Alberta, 1928
“Chinatown” rock formation from the northwest, near Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta, 1900
North-west mounted policeman, Writing-On-Stone post, Alberta, 1899
Writing-On-Stone area, Alberta, 1896-1899
North-West Mounted Police post, Writing-On-Stone, Alberta, 1896-1899
Pictograph site no. 98, Writing-on-Stone, Alberta, 1916
Badlands on Milk River, near Writing-on-Stone, Alberta, 1906
Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, Milk River, Alberta, 1924-1949
Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, Milk River, Alberta, 1924-1949
Vintage Photographs From Writing-On-Stone (Áísínai'pi)
Writing-on-Stone, Milk River, Alberta, 1928
Vintage Photographs From Writing-On-Stone (Áísínai'pi)
Pictographs at Writing-on-Stone, Alberta, 1895

If you liked seeing the rock art in this gallery, consider visiting these two posts (First Nation Rock Art and First Nation Rock Art Part 2) that highlight all of the different pictograph and petroglyph sites I have visited over the years. You might be surprised at the number that are located right here in Alberta.

The photos above were collected with permission from the Glenbow Archives. Additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on each photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

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About Tyler Dixon 113 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.