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The Algonquin Provincial Park Destination occupies a portion of southeastern Ontario, Canada, with the chief constituent being Algonquin Provincial Park itself. Aside from being the destination’s namesake, Algonquin Provincial Park is characteristic of a considerable number of lakes, rivers, forests, and rocky cliffs. A few notable lakes include Cedar Lake, Hogan Lake, Lake la Muir, Opeongo Lake, Lake Lavieille, Radiant Lake, Lake Travers, and Shirley Lake. Highway 60 passes through the southern region of the park, and the Trans-Canada Highway bypasses it to the north. The abundance of natural areas that can be found within Algonquin Provincial Park promotes a diverse ecosystem as well as outdoor recreational opportunities for visitors. Camping is one of the most popular activities among outdoor enthusiasts. Regarding the mode of transportation, campers have two options: camping sites accessible by road or backcountry sites that may require a canoe or other similar methods of aquatic transportation. Aside from camping, people also tend to fish, hunt, bike, and picnic in the area. However, it should also be noted that winter activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding are available as well.
Located in southeastern Ontario, Canada, the Algonquin Provincial Park Destination occupies an expanse between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River. Algonquin Provincial Park lies in the destination’s central region, encompassing the vast majority of the destination as a whole. Nearly 3,000 square miles comprise the park, and because of its size, Algonquin Provincial Park is one of the most popular provincial parks in Ontario and Canada, especially considering its proximity to prominent urban centers of Ottawa and Toronto. A few of the towns that can be found within the borders of the destination surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park include North Bay, Mattawa, Pembroke, Whitney, Maynooth Station, Sundridge, and Burk’s Falls, among others.
Notably, Algonquin Provincial Park was the first provincial park in Ontario and is now currently one of the largest provincial parks in the province. A wide range of outdoor recreation is available throughout the park year-round, as visitors often go to engage in boating, camping, backpacking, hunting, fishing, skiing, canoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and wildlife watching. Three facilities are located on-site, all of which portray the park’s natural history as they use interactive displays, exhibits, art, and videos to depict Algonquin Provincial Park’s historical significance. Numerous hiking and biking trails that vary in terms of difficulty wind through the park as well. Many of these trails take hikers along the shores of the park's rivers and lakes. For example, the Mizzy Lake Trail allows people to visit nine ponds and small lakes. The Track and Tower Trail offers a lookout over Cache Lake, additionally providing a side trip that follows an abandoned railway to Mew Lake.
Algonquin holds a reputation among several fishermen for having “some of the best trout fishing in Canada.” Native brook trout inhabit more than 230 lakes throughout the park, 149 of which also have lake trout. In comparison to other seasons of the year, spring has been reported to be “the best season for trout” fishing. Some fishermen recommend visiting Algonquin during the summer if they intend to catch smallmouth bass. Fishing events are occasionally hosted at Algonquin in the summer, namely, a Family Fishing Weekend in July that offers a free lunch of fish and chips, boats, fishing equipment, and prizes.
Aside from serving as the border between the two provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the Ontario River makes up most of the Algonquin Provincial Park Destination’s northern perimeter. Bounded by Quebec’s southern region to the north, other parts of the destination are primarily encompassed by Ontario. Algonquin Provincial Park is a heavily forested area with rocky cliffs and a relatively high quantity of lakes and rivers. Geographically, the park transitions from northern coniferous to southern deciduous forests.
Algonquin Provincial Park contains over 2,400 lakes and over 745 miles of streams and rivers. These aquatic landforms provide habitats for a diverse range of wildlife, as 53 species of mammals, 54 types of fish, 272 species of birds, 31 types of reptiles and amphibians, and approximately 7,000 species of insects inhabit the park. Moreover, there are over 1,000 species of plants that call Algonquin home. Some of the animals that reside in the park are eastern gray squirrels, snowshoe hares, moose, black bears, raccoons, eastern wolves, Canada lynxes, red foxes, beavers, wild turkeys, owls, and snapping turtles. Of the previously listed wildlife, moose are one of the most common mammals that occupy the site, and many tend to congregate near the side of Highway 60.
During the transition from May to June, Algonquin experiences a slight increase in temperature as the average high rises from 62 degrees in May to 69 degrees Fahrenheit in June. From June to September, temperatures remain reasonably moderate, July being the warmest month of the year as temperatures increase to around 76 degrees Fahrenheit on average. The coldest month of the year in Algonquin is most commonly January, when the average high drops to 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally speaking, temperatures vary between 18 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of this particular month.
According to archaeological research, Algonquin Provincial Park and Ottawa Valley were first inhabited by native peoples for approximately 8,000 years before the Europeans arrived in the 1500s. The provincial park’s name is derived from the language of these Algonquin people as the word translates to English, meaning “the place of spearing fishes and eels.” Concerning the survival methods of the Algonquin, hunter-gatherers comprised the primary role that the people relied on due to the fact that they were too far north for agriculture.
Algonquin Provincial Park formerly functioned as an area of lumbering throughout the 19th century. The large white pine and red pine trees were cut by the logging industry to be sold at domestic and American markets; however, in 1892, a five-member Royal Commission saw it necessary to submit an act of establishment for Algonquin Provincial Park. The following year, the Liberal government of Oliver Mowat in the Ontario Legislature passed the establishment act. Eighteen townships in the District of Nipissing were originally included within the boundaries of the park, and another six new townships were added after the park’s creation. The first ranger to supervise the park via airplane was Frank MacDougall, a prominent figure of the park’s management staff. He served as the ranger for ten years from 1931 to 1941, eventually becoming the deputy minister over the provincial Ministry of Lands and Forests. In honor of Frank MacDougall, the portion of Highway 60 that passes through Algonquin Provincial Park was named after him.
Easier access in the Algonquin area was made available when the Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound Railway was constructed through the park in 1896. Algonquin Provincial Park began to grow a fairly small population of residents as families of railway workers and lumbermen started to settle in the area. Eventually, in 1915, a second railway, the Canadian Northern, was built across the park’s northern region. Railway service came to a gradual conclusion as an old Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway trestle on Cache Lake was damaged by a flood. Due to the immense expenses that would come with the reconstruction of the trestle, the railway services shut down.
In 1992 Algonquin Provincial Park was designated a national historic site for the following reasons: its development of park interpretation programs, its contributions to park management, for being an inspiration to various artists such as the Group of Seven, and for giving Canadian citizens “a sense of Canada.” Many visitors consider the park’s natural landscape to be the “key element” that manifests its historical significance.