Like the Galapagos and the Serengeti, The Niagara Escarpment is designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and one of the world’s unique natural wonders. Photographer Mark Zelinski’s ninth book “HEART OF TURTLE ISLAND: THE NIAGARA ESCARPMENT” brings exquisite focus to the environmental treasures of the magnificent Niagara Escarpment, celebrating the ancient Indigenous cultures and modern settler communities that thrive along its rugged, curving path.

In the book preface Zelinski writes: “The Escarpment provides. For millennia, plants, birds, animals, and human enterprise have coexisted in its bounty. Its ancient limestone naturally purifies the water that runs through it. Its health offers us a reflection of our own health. The Niagara Escarpment is a living symbol of the immense scope of planetary time, and majesty, a gift to enjoy with respect and gratitude during our brief visit here on Turtle Island.”

In this new era of Reconciliation, the images and stories from “Heart Of Turtle Island: The Niagara Escarpment” will become an important document to remind Ontarians, and all Canadians, that the origins of this country began right here when, for a short time in our shared histories, we were all considered equals. The challenge we face now is not only to repair that relationship, but also to protect and preserve these beautiful and bountiful lands and waters for future generations.

From the foreword by AFN Ontario Regional Chief, Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini

Click to purchase a copy of the book.           Click to inquire about purchasing photographs from the book.


Page 17 | Bruce Peninsula National Park

The structurally weaker, thinner bedded rocks, and lower lake levels have combined to encourage the collapse of the lower strata and the development of caves at Cliff Point on the shore of Bruce Peninsula National Park.








Page 16 | Manitoulin Island

At Sheguindah First Nation quartzite has been mined by Indigenous people for at least 9,000 years, particularly for making spear and arrowhead points.


Page 16 | Silent Valley Trail, Meaford ON

Favosites coral, found in the Fossil Hill Formation lived some 430 million years ago. In some formations silica rich solutions in the rock preserved the fossils as chert, which is much less susceptible to dissolution than dolostone.


Page 16 | Greig’s Caves, Bruce Peninsula

Greig’s Caves are thought to have been carved by Lake Algonquin, when ice retreated from the Bruce Peninsula some 12,500 years ago. Tagged bookcaveserosionescarpmentgeologyglacialheartofturtleislandiceMarkZelinskiniagaraescarpmentOntariophotographyrocks


Cracks carved by glacial processes in massively bedded Lockport Group rocks in the Standing Rock side trail, were once the shorelines of early post-glacial lakes.Tagged bluemountainsbookbrucetrailcreviceduntroonerosionescarpmentgeologyglacialheartofturtleislandhikingMarkZelinskiniagaraescarpmentOntariophotographyrocksstratatrail



Page 15 | Bruce Peninsula

At Isthmus Bay, one of the more easily weathered formations exposes the green shale and shaly dolostone of the Dyer Bay Formation.Tagged bedrockbookbrucepeninsulaerosionescarpmentgeologyheartofturtleislandMarkZelinskiniagaraniagaraescarpmentOntariophotographyrocksshorelinestrataweathering


Page 15 | Bruce Peninsula National Park

A vertical crack in Bruce Peninsula karst has been subject to solution weathering. Tagged bedrockbookbrucepeninsulaerosionescarpmentfallsfeatureflowerpotgeologyglacialheartofturtleislandMarkZelinskinativenatureniagaraniagaraescarpmentOntariophotographyrocksshorelinestrata


Page 15 | Wingfield Basin, Bruce Peninsula

Wingfield Basin is a welcome port for boaters in bad weather on the east side of the Bruce Peninsula where the shore is generally characterized by vertical cliffs and boulder beaches and has very few natural harbours. Some geologists believe that this is the site of a catastrophic draining event that wiped out all life in the Northern Hemisphere 140 million years ago. Tagged brucepeninsulacatastrophicerosionescarpmenteventgeologygeorgianbayglacialglacierharbourheartofturtleislandindigenousMarkZelinskinativenatureniagaraniagaraescarpmentOntariophotographyrocksshorelinestrata


Page 14 | Crawford Lake, Burlington ON

Crawford Lake is a meromictic lake which making it a prime site for archaeological and geochemical studies. Unlike other lakes its water does not “turn over” once or more a year.Tagged aerialarchaeologicalbrucetrail‎BurlingtonCanadaconservationcrawfordlakeescarpmentgeochemicalgeologyheartofturtleislandlakeMarkZelinskimeromicticniagaraOntariophotography


Page 14 |Nassagaweya Canyon, Milton ON

The massive outlier at Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area is separated from the main body of the Escarpment by the steeply cut Nassagaweya Canyon. Tagged areabrucetrailcanyon.escarpmentcliffsconservationgeologyglacialheartofturtleislandMarkZelinskimiltonnassagaweyaniagaraOntariooutlierphotographypointrattlesnake


Page 14 | Owen Sound

Zigzag cliffs above Sydenham River are the result of bedrock cracking that may have been caused by high horizontal stresses in the bedrock.Tagged brucetrailcliffsescarpmentgeologyglacialheartofturtleislandMarkZelinskiniagaraOntarioowensoundphotographyzigzag


Page 13 | Flowerpot Island

Two complete “flower pots” in view on the south-east shoreline of Flowerpot Island. The vertical fractures, called “jointing” form the edges of the bedrock on which the flower pots are standing.Tagged bedrockbookbrucepeninsulaerosionescarpmentfallsfeatureflowerpotgeologygeorgianbayglacierheartofturtleislandiceisland-heartofturtleislandMarkZelinskinatureniagaraniagaraescarpmentOntariophotographyrocksshorelinewind


Page 13 | Flowerpot Island

Sunrise at Flowerpot Island shows multiple horizontal fractures, called bedding planes.Tagged bedrockbookbrucepeninsulaerosionescarpmentfallsfeatureflowerpotgeologygeorgianbayglacialglacierheartofturtleislandiceindigenousisland-heartofturtleislandMarkZelinskinativenatureniagaraniagaraescarpmentOntariophotographyrocksshorelinestratawaveswind


Page 13 | Georgian Bay

The tear dropped shaped reef on the east side of the Bruce Peninsula was carved by glacial ice.Tagged bookcarvederosionescarpmentfallsgeologyglacialglacierheartofturtleislandiceindigenousislandsMarkZelinskinativenatureniagaraOntariophotographyreefrocksshorelinestratawaveswind


Page 12 | Flowerpot Island

Shoreline flatrocks feature bedrock with closely spaced vertical fractures or joints, some of which have been widened by a process called kartification.Tagged bedrockbookerosionescarpmentfallsfeatureflatrocksgeologyglacialglacierheartofturtleislandiceindigenouskartificationMarkZelinskinativenatureniagaraOntariophotographyrocksshorelinestratawaveswind


Page 12 | Bruce Peninsula

The Northern Bruce Peninsula’s high cliffs of the Lockport Group Strata, are formations that are more resistant to glacial ice scour and has led to exposed cliffs.Tagged aerialbookcliffserosionescarpmentfallsgeologyglacialglacierheartofturtleislandiceindigenouslockportMarkZelinskinativenatureniagaraOntariophotographyrocksscourstratawaveswind


Page 12 | Flowerpot Island

The famous ‘flower pots’ of Flowerpot Island are erosion features created by the combined forces of wind ice and waves that separated the pots from the adjacent cliffs.Tagged bookerosionescarpmentfallsflowerpotgeologyglacierheartofturtleislandiceindigenousMarkZelinskinativenatureniagaraOntariophotographyrockswaveswind


Page 10 | Cup And Saucer, Manitoulin Island

The Niagara Escarpment emerges from Georgian Bay as the spine of Manitoulin, ‘the Great Spirit”, Island, submerging again beneath Lake Huron The most prominent feature on Manitoulin is the cliff exposures at the “Cup and Saucer”, the highest point on the island.Tagged aboriginalbookcliffemergeescarpmentexposurecanadageorgiangreatheartofturtleislandhuronindigenousislandlakemanitoulinMarkZelinskimythologynativenatureniagaraOntariophotographyreconciliationspiritstorystorytellerturtle


Page 8 | Foreword by AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini

Pages 2-3 |The Maid Of The Mist – by Chezney Martin

The story of the creation of the Niagara Escarpment and Maid of the Mist as told by the Seneca Nation of the Haudenosaunee begins with a battle. The Thunder Beings are considered the supernatural grandfathers and protectors of the earth. They make appearances in many Haudenosaunee stories and tales. The duties of the Thunder Beings flow from the creation story to the belief that they keep dinosaurs underground with strikes of lightning. In this particular story we meet a monstrous snake-like beast conjured by witchcraft that decided to live within the Niagara waterways to kill and eat the Haudenosaunee people. Enraged by this, the Thunder Beings sought to dispel the snake with force. This battle raged on for days as thunder rumbled in the sky and lightening struck the serpent until it dissipated into a huge crevice in the earth, the same crevice we call the Niagara Gorge today. The Thunder Beings were suspicious as to whether or not the snake had truly been defeated, Rather than leaving the earth they sought shelter behind the waterfall that had been created by the serpent. The Thunder Beings natural rumbles were covered by the sound of falling water, as they awaited any sign that the snake had survived. Shortly after this battle, the clouds in the sky cleared to a beautiful day. The sunshine attracted a young woman to lie near the water. She was soon to be wed and wouldn’t have much time to enjoy her alone time once she had children. As she closed her eyes, the snake that was shrunken by the strikes of the Thunder Beings slithered out of the water. It is said that the snake entered her body during her rest. The young woman was later married and after the first night spent with her new husband, he died. She mourned and decided to try marriage again with the same result. She tried once more to marry, desperately craving a family. Her third husband died. Distraught with grief and guilt the young woman decided to end her life. She entered a canoe up stream and allowed the current to carry her to the waterfall. Just as her canoe was going to tip over the edge and to the sharp rocks below, the Thunder Beings heard her weeping. They caught her mid-fall, and brought her into their cave behind the water. Once inside, the Thunder Beings taught the young woman how to dispel witchcraft as they alleviated her of the snake and destroyed it. It is said that the Thunder Beings returned to the clouds. The knowledge passed on to the young woman was brought back to the Haudenosaunee and has been used ever since. This is the story of The Maid of the Mist from the Original People. Tagged aboriginalamericaAmericanbookCanadafallsheartofturtleislandindianindigenousislandlegendmaidMarkZelinskimistmythologynativenatureniagaraOntariophotographyreconciliationstorystorytellerturtlewondersworld