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Algonquin

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Travel Guide North America Canada Ontario Algonquin

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Introduction

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Algonquin Provincial Park is a provincial park located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River in central Ontario, Canada, mostly within the Unorganized South Part of Nipissing District. Established in 1893, it is the oldest provincial park in Canada. Additions since its creation have increased the park to its current size of about 7653 square kilometres. For comparison purposes, this is about one and a half times the size of Prince Edward Island or the US state of Delaware and about a quarter the size of Belgium. The park is contiguous with several smaller, administratively separate provincial parks that protect important rivers in the area, resulting in a larger protected area.

Its size, combined with its proximity to the major urban centres of Toronto and Ottawa, makes Algonquin one of the most popular provincial parks in the province and the entire country. Highway 60 runs through the south of the park, while the Trans-Canada Highway bypasses it to the north.

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History

Construction of the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway (O. A. & P. S.) through the park in 1896 provided the first easy access to the area. While the park’s purpose was to control settlement within its boundaries, the families of railway workers as well as those of the lumbermen took up residence in the park. The village of Mowat on the west side of Canoe Lake was first established in 1893 as a logging camp for the Gilmour Lumber Company. From there, logs were driven down the Oxtongue River towards Lake of Bays and eventually on to Trenton.

Algonquin Park was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1992 in recognition of several heritage values including: its role in the development of park management; pioneering visitor interpretation programs later adopted by national and provincial parks across the country; its role in inspiring artists, which in turn gave Canadians a greater sense of their country; and historic structures such as lodges, hotels, cottages, camps, entrance gates, a railway station, and administration and museum buildings.

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Geography

Algonquin Provincial Park is located in south-central Ontario and covers 7,630 square kilometres. It is about 300 kilometres north of Toronto and about 300 kilometres west of Ottawa. The park is located at approximately 45.8° N, 78.4° W. Over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams and rivers are located within the park. Some notable examples include Canoe Lake and the Petawawa, Nipissing, Amable du Fond, Madawaska, and Tim rivers. These were formed by the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age. The park is considered part of the "border" between Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. The park is in an area of transition between northern coniferous forest and southern deciduous forest. This unique mixture of forest types, and the wide variety of environments in the park, allows the park to support an uncommon diversity of plant and animal species. It is also an important site for wildlife research.
Algonquin Park is the only designated park within the province of Ontario to allow industrial logging to take place within its borders.

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Weather

Algonquin is not quite part of Northern Ontario, but it shares the typical climate for its region. Springtime in Algonquin is likely to be cool and wet. The summer climate of Algonquin is not uniform. Daily highs could range from 16 °C to over 30 °C. In summer, it can be humid throughout June and July, yet the humidity tapers off around August. During autumn, it is cool and dry. The winters are guaranteed to be snowy, cold and harsh. Be sure to plan for the weather you are likely to face.

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Sights and Activities

Algonquin is popular for year-round outdoor activities.

  • Canoeing
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Mountain biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Dog sledding

Algonquin Visitor Centre

The Algonquin Visitor Centre features exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the park. On entrance to the building a very large and detailed relief map of southern Ontario is on display. By this means a visitor can be oriented to the size and geography of the park. In a flow through style, exhibits continue with many taxidermied species set in their native surroundings, then progress, in a chronological manner, through an extensive collection of artifacts relating to human intervention in the park. The centre also includes a video theater, a gift shop, a panoramic outdoor viewing deck, and an art gallery -"The Algonquin Room"- with changing exhibits of art related to the park.

Algonquin Logging Museum

Opened in 1992, the Algonquin Logging Museum is located by the park's east gate. A 1.3 km trail features a recreated logging camp, a steam-powered amphibious tug called an "alligator", logging equipment and interpretive panels about logging industry activities in the park. Exhibits include a video presentation. The museum is open seasonally. One annual feature worthy of note at the museum is "Logger's Day", typically held in late July or early August each year. This festivity includes musicians, a logger's old style lunch, activities for children, interpretive actors, and forest industry representatives.

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Cost

A permit is required to use the park's facilities. A daily permit costs $16, and it is good for only one day. An Ontario Parks season's pass costs $80, but can be used unlimited times at any provincial park in Ontario. If you plan on camping, either in an organized campground or a canoe/hike-in campsite, a campsite permit is required. These cost $22 for one day. For fishing, a fishing permit is required. These are issued by the Ontario Ministry of natural resources. They can be obtained at some locations in Algonquin. Costs for these permits fluctuate.

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Getting There

By Plane

Algonquin is approximately 300 kilometres from the two nearest international airports. Visitors can fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport or Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport.

By Car

From Ottawa
Leave Ottawa heading southwest on Highway 417. Merge onto Highway 17 West and at Renfrew turn onto Highway 60 West.
Continue West on Highway 60 for approximately 250 kilometres until reaching East Gate at Algonquin Provincial Park. Driving time is about 4.5 hours (340 kilometres).

From Toronto
Leave Toronto Pearson Airport heading east on Highway 401. Take exit 359 and merge onto Highway 400 north toward Barrie and then continue onto Highway 11 North. At Huntsville, exit onto Highway 60 East towards Ottawa and continue east on Highway 60 until reaching West Gate at Algonquin Provincial Park. Driving time is about 2.5 hours (230 kilometres)

By Bus

Parkbus runs between Toronto and Algonquin Provincial Park in Spring and Summer only.

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Eat

There is a cafeteria in the Visitor's Centre, but the food is expensive and not of amazing quality. The store at Lake of Two Rivers campground offers "fast food" type meals and ice cream. The Portage Store on canoe lake has dine-in and take out food as well as a small convenience store and ice cream retailer. If you are staying overnight in Algonquin, it is highly recommended (and often necessary) that you bring your own food. You can cook over a fire (a fire-pit is provided in every campsite) or a lightweight camping stove (which you must provide). Please remember that glass bottles and cans are prohibited in all parts of the park, except for organized campgrounds. This ban applies to day visitors as well. There are three lodges in the park that offer meals, Arowhon, Killarney, and Bartlett Lodge, all accessible from Route 60. Meals are expensive but worth it. Reservations suggested.

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Drink

As always, remember that glass bottles and cans (soda cans as well) are banned in the park. Should drinks be packaged in such containers, pour them into a re-usable plastic bottle. It is highly recommended that you not drink straight out of the lakes. Bacteria and parasites are present. This is especially true for bogs and rivers. Prior to drinking the water, bring it to a full boil for 5 minutes or pass it through a filter.

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Sleep

Motels

  • Algonquin Motel - 81 Highway 11 Box 115 (45 minutes north of Huntsville on Highway 11), tel: 705-386-2641.

Camping

In the park, it is most likely that you will be staying on a campsite. Remember, camping requires a permit which can be obtained at any Park office.

Lodges

There are three lodges in the park offering both resort-type lodging and meals. Arowhon Pines is located on Joe Lake off Hwy 60 at Km 15. Its central log dining room is a romantic place to eat. Killarney Lodge is located on Lake of Two Rivers, featuring both cabins and dining. Bartlett Lodge on Cache Lake is located on an island and reached by lodge ferry. There are both cabins and fine dining.

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This is version 19. Last edited at 12:21 on Nov 26, 12 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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