Walking Through the Past

Algonquin has a vast history beginning long before it became a Provincial Park.  Though human history is very little before the 1800′s, the land was scattered with various family groups of Native’s.  They hunted, fished, picked berries and lived within Algonquin’s borders.  When the logging boom hit is when we start to see more information about Algonquin’s human history.  The tales of the logging camps is told through exhibits and Logging Day’s at Algonquin’s Logging Museum.  The human history is also displayed throughout the Algonquin Visitor Center.

The Logging Museum is a fascinating walk through the past where you have the chance to “become” a logger for a day.  You start out at the bookstore where you get to watch a brief  video about logging in the park and how it has changed drastically from the 1800′s.  I’ve included the youtube video below (From http://www.youtube.com/user/FOAPAlgonquinPark):

Once the video is done you proceed through a big garage door that takes you out onto the circular trail. This is where visiting the Logging Museum during Logging Days (July 27 10am-3pm) is great because there are actors portraying various aspects of logging whether it is in the camboose shanty or down by the log chute.  The trail allows you to explore at your own pace.  It is a great activity for families as there are exhibits that the children can experience.  Not going to lie….I always go and explore the Alligator and the Locomotive engine :).
Another way to explore the history of Algonquin Park is by walking through the Algonquin Visitor’s Center.  Not only does the Visitor’s Center teach you about the natural history of the park in regards to the life cycles of the flora and fauna, it also walks you through the human history.  With exhibits such as a look at the Highland Inn and a celebration of the camps that have long been a part of the Algonquin landscape, the museum offers you a rich educational but fun experience.  On site at the Visitor’s Center is a bookstore that provides you a chance to sink your teeth in some books about the faces/spaces of Algonquin’s history.  I mean what is a trip to Algonquin without a day of sitting on the beach reading?
We’ve talked about the museums that you can go and visit but did you know you can get a mini history lesson on the many hiking trails along the Hwy 60 corridor?  Each trail provides you with a booklet (at one time they were 25 cents) that describes either the history, ecology, or an interesting fact about the trail.  The Big Pines Trail, across from the Rock Lake Access Road, is a walk through the history of the logging camps and giant white pines.  It even has a fenced off old logging camp.  Spruce Bog Boardwalk provides a look at the ecology past and future of Algonquin.  Booth’s Rock takes you along J.R.R Booth’s old railway bed.
Another spot that is fairly recent (probably no more than 4/5 years old) is at the Cache Lake parking lot.  This interpretive area allows you to explore the original park headquarters as well as the footings of the Highland Inn.  You are transported back in time as you see the old railway ties, steps leading up to where the Inn once stood, and walk along the old railway bed.  As well, if you are interested in the railroad history of the park you can bike/walk along the old railway bed from Rock Lake to Mew Lake (Cache Lake extension is coming).  Along the way there are signs posted that will tell you about the history of that area.  There is on particular spot that I like by Whitefish which is the remnants of an old lumber mill…you can’t walk up to it but it’s pretty cool!
booth-rail
I hope that this has given the history buffs a chance to see where they may “discover” Algonquin’s history.  I’m hoping to get up to the Park still on Mother’s Day weekend.  As well, in case you didn’t see my Facebook or Twitter post, I’m looking for Parkbus testimonials/reviews for an upcoming article that I’m writing.  If you wish to contribute please email me through the link at the top.
~Enjoy your trip!
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