Algonquin Park & the Canadian Shield
Rocky ridges, pine-clad shores and miles of lakes and rivers dotted with campsites, lodges and resorts provide the backdrop for memorable experiences in Ontario’s best-known outdoor vacation destinations, the “cottage country” areas of Muskoka, Haliburton and Bancroft.
Located within the Canadian Shield, Algonquin Provincial Park is Ontario’s oldest and best known, established in 1893. Algonquin comprises more than 7,600 square kilometres and its topography and geography exhibit extraordinarily rich and diverse plant and animal species.
The essence of Algonquin Park is the vast interior of maple and pine-clad hills, rocky ridges and thousands of interconnected lakes, rivers and streams, typical of the Great Lakes forest region. Numerous access points surround the park, allowing for a variety of experiences. Professional outfitters can provide equipment and food for a self-guided trip take you on a guided canoe trip adventure. Some even offer fully-inclusive experiences with lodge-based accommodation and meals.
Canoe travel provides the best access to the park and it is possible to paddle both well-traveled or remote routes. Popular access points along the Highway 60 corridor, like Opeongo, Canoe or Smoke lakes are well serviced by local outfitters, with full or partial outfitting packages available. For ambitious adventurers, the Petawawa River provides thrilling whitewater. Fish for a shore lunch in remote trout streams like the Nipissing River. Try backcountry routes starting at Brent, a historic ghost town from the logging and railway era, situated on spectacular Cedar Lake. Rain and North Tea Lakes, accessible from Highway 11 along Algonquin’s west side almost guarantee moose sightings!
Visited Algonquin? Try other Shield Country Parks such as Bon Echo, Silent Lake or Frontenac.
The Canadian Shield
This landscape is “Shield Country”, formed 2.5 billion years ago, it is the world’s oldest exposed bedrock. Through the millennia, “land building” activity has left large and irregular lakes with rocky cliffs, pocket beaches and deep waters; with moraines, eskers, inland dunes and kames. Having created thousands of kilometres of rivers over time, the Canadian Shield covers almost one-third of the country and is a dominant segment of Canada’s ecological identity.
This is resort country! With accommodation ranging from grand resorts to small housekeeping cottages, you can explore and stay in comfort. In winter, when trails, lakes and rivers become frozen highways for dog sledders, snowshoers and skiers, parks like Algonquin and Silent Lake offer “yurts,” unique six-sided tent-like structures on wooden foundations. High knobs of granite provide downhill skiing opportunities in Barrie, Haliburton, Barry’s Bay and Calabogie near Ottawa.
Capturing Nature’s Glory
See the landscape in a new way: learn to paint and photograph, or see art displays by both renowned and lesser-known local artists. The fall colour season along the Highway 60 corridor in Algonquin Park provides a panoramic palette to capture on canvas. The art gallery at the park’s Visitor Centre features regular displays of art depicting the region. Art displays at Bon Echo Park reflect the park’s history as a gathering spot for artists since the early 20th century. At Bonnechere Provincial Park you can learn to paint with a collective of local artists.
This landscape was logged extensively in the mid-1800s. You can see historic log chutes and ranger cabins on many canoe routes. The Algonquin Logging Museum and trail illustrates this lively aspect of Ontario’s heritage. There are great biking trails mapped through logging roads in the Bonnechere region. Or walks of the Little Bonnechere River allow you to hike to abandoned homesteads, mills and sites that take you back to the time of loggers.
- Useful Links:
- Algonquin Park
- Land O Lakes Tourism
- Near North Tourism
- Bancroft and District Chamber of Commerce
- Silent Lake Provincial Park
- Frontenac Provincial Park
- Muskoka Tourism
- Friends of Frontenac Provincial Park
- Haliburton Highlands
- North Bay Tourism
- Bon Echo Provincial Park
- Charleston Lake Provincial Park
- Great Fall Drive: A Palette of Colour: Algonquin and the Highlands
- Ottawa Valley Tourist Association