Thunder Bay·Audio

Boulevard Lake rock circle baffles Lakehead researcher

A researcher at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. is determined to solve the mystery behind a puzzling circular rock formation located under Boulevard Lake.

'It might represent some kind of dance pavilion or ceremonial lodge,' says Scott Hamilton

The Boulevard Lake rock formation, as viewed from the ground. (Scott Hamilton and Jason Stephenson)

A researcher at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. is determined to solve the mystery behind a puzzling circular rock formation located under Boulevard Lake on the city's north side. 

Spanning an estimated 80 – 98 feet in diameter, the formation is made up of hundreds of rocks, some of them as large as 80 cm across, says Scott Hamilton, an archaeologist at Lakehead. But just what it is, is "anyone's guess."

"That's the problem," he said. "We're not sure what we're looking at. We've known about this rock feature for some time because the lake levels rise and fall and people have pointed it out. But no one has really systematically looked at it."  

Now Hamilton is trying to solve the puzzle using new images captured with drone photography when the man-made lake was drained this past fall

A drone was used to take aerial photos of a circular rock formation, usually submerged under water at Boulevard Lake in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Scott Hamilton and Jason Stephenson)

Theories 'all over the map'

Hamilton is now asking people for help learning more about the formation, and its possible origins. The theories he's heard are "all over the map," he said. 
The rocks at Boulevard Lake don't resemble natural features, says Scott Hamilton, an archaeologist at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. He is certain the formation is man-made. (lakeheadu.ca)

The circle is too big to serve as a teepee foundation, he said. He also doubts theories that it's a fish trap. The formation was most likely constructed on the bank of the Current River, before the land was submerged, he said. 

While he's reluctant to guess, the idea that the formation was created by First Nations people for a ceremonial function seems most likely to him, said Hamilton, adding that he wants to talk to the city about making sure the site is protected. 

"I keep coming back to speculation that it might represent some kind of dance pavilion or ceremonial lodge," he said.

Hamilton is welcoming help from the public in his research, and will have a booth set up this Saturday March 5 at Intercity Shopping Centre, as part of Lakehead University's Research and Innovation Week display. 

Satellite images show where the rock formation is located, on the south side of Boulevard Lake in Thunder Bay, Ont.

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