Why Do I Go to #AlgonquinPark?

155_8974591202_2273_nPeople I’ve met over the years have often asked me why Algonquin?  What’s so special about it?  Those who have been to Algonquin many times get it and understand.  It’s hard to describe that feeling I get when I’m in Algonquin.  It’s one of peace, serenity, and the feeling of being able to breathe.  As I said it’s hard to truly understand but I’ll try to explain.  When you live in the city and go through the daily life you sometimes find it hard to breathe.  That life is passing you by and you are missing everything.  Algonquin is my place to breathe, to take in life, and to get rid of all the stress that builds up during the year.

 

I was introduced to Algonquin when I was around the age of 2.  I don’t know what exactly we did whether2071_62528811202_9479_n it was a canoe trip or just a camping trip and I really don’t remember the trip at all but there is photographic evidence down in my basement.  I’ve grown up there though pretty much every summer since I was around 5/6.  It has been my summer vacation playground.  My home away from home.  It’s where I learned how to canoe and be considerate of nature.  It’s where I discovered who I am as a person.  It’s where I watched my mom come alive.  Where my family felt the closest with no worries or fears.

2071_62528896202_4667_nWhen I saw my mom in Algonquin camping or at our Dorset cottage she was a completely different person.  It was like all the stress of the school year melted away and she was able to relax with us.  She was happy all the time but she was even happier when we were camping.  It wasn’t uncommon for her to make friends at the campgrounds that have ended up being life long friends.  She sat on the beach either reading or knitting, talked with other mom’s, or swam in the lake with us.  There were many times where we would swim from the beach in Canisbay lake to the island across the way or we went for a canoe ride at sunset.

Algonquin is my place to run away from the everyday.  It’s my sanctuary, my place to breathe, my place to live.

Part of me is baffled that there are many many people out there that haven’t had the opportunity to experience it like I have.  My family used to go on overnight canoe trips.  My dad took us kids out for two or three nights at a time.  When we bought a cottage I started to lose that love I had for Algonquin…it was harder for me to have the same feeling and I turned away for a few years.  It wasn’t until I was older and I started camping by myself that I realized how much I missed it.

My love for Algonquin is the main reason I started the blog.  I love being able to share my experiences with others.  I love helping people discover what Algonquin is all about and hopefully discover how much they love it.  Algonquin isn’t for everyone I know that but one can dream.  I hope this makes it a little clearer about why I love it.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Loggers Day – July 27th, 2013 #AlgonquinPark

Logger’s Day is held at the Logging Museum in Algonquin Park.  This event lets you experience (in a sense) what life for loggers was like.  This years event as always was great and did not disappoint.  The event itself cost $2 to get in and you also had the option to purchase a $10 lunch which included fried bologna, salad, beans and so much more.  We opted out of the lunch but still had a great day.

The day started out visiting the Camboose Shanty and watching the Wakami Wailers sing a few songs and tell a few stories.  The Wakami Wailers consist of Mike Bernier, Mark Despault and Rob Hollet.  One major missing piece of the Wakami Wailers was the raconteur (story teller) Raoule (Jeff Allen).  In the past the park had baked beans cooking inside the camboose shanty on Logger’s Day however this year there was none.

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Up next was a demonstration on how the loggers would square a white pine log.  It’s actually a three step process that starts off with scoring a notch in the pine, then using a broadaxe you plained the pine, then you score the remaining wood off.  Sometimes they had to repeat the process quite a few times depending on how big the pine is.

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There were so many exhibits to see and experience.  Ron Tozer, retired Algonquin Park Naturalist, spoke to us about the Alligator and how it worked.  Then there was an electric alligator pulling a log in the bog behind the Alligator.

Farther along the trail we got to try out a crosscut saw and make a timber “cookie”.

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You then could get that “cookie” stamped or you could have a piece of wood stamped if you didn’t cut the tree.  Where they were stamping the wood there was also a gentleman carving a broadaxe handle by hand.  My dad also got to try out making a piece of rope.

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Overall it was a great morning!  I enjoy getting the chance to learn hands on about the history about the park.  I love history but I really love learning about the people of Algonquin.  Hope to see you all next year at Logger’s Day!

~Enjoy your trip

 

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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!
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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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Tweeting A Mystery

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Last spring, the twitterverse was immersed into a 95-year-old mystery when Tom Thomson himself took to twitter.  Over the last year he has gathered over 1500 followers and has made over 4700 tweets.  I myself started following Tom around June/July of last year and have loved every minute of it.  The cool thing about his tweets is that he makes you feel like you are on the trail with him paddling, walking, and sketching every step of the way.  He’s very interactive with his followers and has now branched into a blog.  Tom focuses on the final fall/spring of Tom Thomson’s life.  This week I had the chance to interview Tom about his journey with us on Twitter.  He also included some answers from previous interviews .

Early Spring

Jenn: Why twitter?  Why not Facebook or some other form of social media?

Tom: Twitter enabled me to construct Tom’s identity and character. That’s not possible with Facebook. As well the follower concept is different from friends on Facebook.

I’ve decided to conceal my real identity and have everyone interact with me as Tom. Only a very few people know who I am and I have sworn them to secrecy and say they are now part of the ‘ TT Inner Circle’

Also, by being covert, no one knows who I am and where I will show up. It’s all part of the ongoing mystery.
Jenn: What inspired you to become the voice of Tom Thomson? 

Tom: I’ve always known Tom. I have read most, if not all of the literature and research about Tom. I also have some ‘inside’ or local knowledge of where he grew up and what he experienced during his informative years. We’re not related, but we have relatives in the same cemetery.

Reflecting on his character, I have a lot of similarities and could relate to the situations he was in.

Tom wasn’t a big writer. Very terse and unrevealing in his prose. His tone and choice of words was actually perfect for tweets.

As well, I am fascinated by his sketches. I have been compiling as many as I can (I have several hundred now). I realized the size and quality of the boards were perfect for tweeting and look especially wonderful on mobile devices.

Jenn: Why the last spring?  Why not the 5 years that Tom explored Algonquin?

Tom: Tom’s Last Spring is a culmination of many factors and achievements. He had produced his masterpieces, the Canadian icons of the Jack Pine and the West Wind but he didn’t realize it.

The spectre of the War and the looming conscription crisis was a factor, I believe, in his plans to flee or make himself scarce.

Finally, his affair with Winnie, ran into a major complication (alleged pregnancy). I could see a man cornered with little or no choice who was about to achieve something grand. And then it didn’t happen.

There’s an exceptional story here – from hs return to Toronto in Nov 1916 – to his last spring and fate in July 1917. No one has really explored the psychological aspect, the internal drama, so to speak. I’ve realized that many people know of Tom Thomson and his death, but know nothing of the circumstances or his thoughts and feelings leading up to the end.
Jenn: What’s next in your journey?

Tom: I am re-tweeting Tom’s Last Spring once again. Like any good ghost, they are repetitive and tend to haunt the same thing over and over again.

I am using the timeline I have built, adding in more detail, and correcting things that weren’t quite right. If I do this two or three times, I will have built a completely plausible story of his last spring, and it is my hope this ‘story’ will become a part of history.

This year I am writing blog entries (In real time as best I can). I know enough the characters, structure and timeline that I can slip into character when I write. All the research is paying off.

I am thinking about turning this into a book – Tom’s Lost Journal, but I’ll see how this year goes. I’m not setting any expectation.

Early Spring, Algonquin Park
Jenn: How are you able to portray your character so flawlessly? 

Tom: Research, reflection and more research. Everyday, I try to imagine what Tom is doing. I try to reconstruct the circumstances. I am reading the papers of the day; I am reading books that he would have read, and then project what I would be thinking into his character. It’s a hell of a lot of work. I comb through material, over and over again, always thinking ‘What would Tom think (say or tweet). Generally something spontaneously pops out and voila, I have new material.

Jenn: Do you feel that if Tom were alive today that you would be as big of a deal or do you think that Tom is who he is because of the mystery and possible fates that surround his death?

Tom: Everyone loves a mystery and a tragedy. Had Tom have lived to a ripe old age, he probably would have been well-accomplished but not as well-known.

We are all ‘inventing’ Tom (phrase borrowed from Sherrill Grace). It’s this act of speculating of what might have been and what could be drawing everyone into the story. It’s like going to a theatre – plays are more powerful than any CGI movie because we are constructing ourselves the characters we see on stage and it becomes a more personal experience. Same with the tweets – when you read the tweets you have to construct the circumstance and it becomes more powerful. Just as Tom let the wood show through in his sketches, forcing the viewer to construct the picture – it makes it a much more powerful experience.

Jenn: Do you feel that had Tom survived that he and Winnie would have gotten married?

Tom: I think Tom was ready to split. Out of wedlock was such a scandal in those days. He would have gone to the Rockies out west, or my speculation he would have gone to Colorado.
Jenn: Can you please remind our readers what the possible fates surrounding the death of Tom Thomson are?

Tom: My goodness. If I can remember them – there are 7.

1. Death by accident
2. Death by suicide.
3. Death by the hands of Shannon Fraser
4. Death by the hands of Martin Blecher
5. Death by the hands of Hugh Trainor
6. Death by the hands of a Poacher
7. Disappearance, after fatal encounter with a Poacher (the poacher is the recovered body)

(I wrote these without consulting my notes)

I have my opinion on what is the most plausible one is, but I’m not telling. Also, the seventh fate, despite being the least plausible, is still a definite possibility. Who knows, direct descendants of Tom Thomson might be alive and well in Colorado today!

Wood Interior, Winter

Some previous interview responses that I found to be quite interesting:

I was wondering a bit about your background (Academia? Art historian? Curator?). Your tweets (not to mention the images to which you seem to have access) indicate you have a much richer and deeper knowledge about Tom Thomson and his era than most.1. 

I am none of the above. I am a professional, but in none of those fields. I have some close connections to Tom Thomson, but to reveal more might compromise my anonymity.

How did you come up with the idea for this mode of expression about Thomson?

I have been working on an alternative theory – and part of the exercise is to reconstruct the timeline. When I saw the twitterfeed about real-time tweets in World War II, I thought why not do not this for Tom?

I can see some reaction from some of your RTs on Twitter. What kinds of responses have you received?

The biggest, most unexpected and powerful reaction was the excitement when people are “followed by Tom Thomson” (Tom follows back every follower). I quickly realized that this tied back to the myth of Tom Thomson paddling in the park and that he might be following (as any good ghost would do). Also, I received several comments that were direct allusions to the Tragically Hip’s “Three Pistols” and I responded in kind. Also, I have numerous followers from Algonquin Park, who are excited about being “followed by Tom” – I feel like I’m bringing back to life some part of history, but also tying into an important part of the Canadian psyche. By keeping myself anonymous, people have no choice to think that they are talking to Tom and I respond in character.

There are still stories to tell…each one as different as the next and Tom is here to recount them all.  Now if only we knew what happened with Winnie and the other people who made up the township of Mowat!

Tom’s Blog: www.ttlastspring.com

Tom’s Twitter: @ttlastspring

Winnie’s Twitter: @winnietrainor (she’s been quiet lately)

~Enjoy your trip!

 

 


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A Glimpse of What Was

Back in 1917, probably not much later in the year than this, Tom Thomson started making his last trek into Algonquin Park.  Back then there were no cell phones, internet, computers, voice mail, or even phone lines really.  There was just the regular mail and telegraphs in the park.  However something astonishing happened last year in the world of twitter.  Thomson emerged from the misty lakes of Canoe Lake and started tweeting.  He tweeted his thoughts, his art, but mostly a glimpse into his very private and unknown life.

Thomson tweets specifically about his last spring in Algonquin Park.  There have been a ton of followers and interest but whats captured and captivated me was the chance to interact with the famous Canadian artist.  As mentioned in a few of my posts lasts summer there are 7 possible fates that were wildly discussed in twitterverse.  These fates vary from murder by a few people to suicide and accidental drowning.  Joining Thomson in exploring the mystery is his lover and possible mother to his child (still speculated not yet proven) is Winnie Trainor.

Follow along as he and Winnie rise from the mist and engage us all in solving one of the greatest Canadian mysteries!  Also keep an eye on my site because as events within the Algonquin area come up I will post and advertise them as we celebrate 100 years of Thomson in the area.

To follow Tom and Winnie on twitter:

Tom Thomson Last Spring: @ttlastspring
Winnie Trainor: @winnietrainor

~Enjoy your Trip!

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Why I Love Algonquin

155_8974591202_2273_nPeople I’ve met over the years have often asked me why Algonquin?  What’s so special about it?  Those who have been to Algonquin many times get it and understand.  It’s hard to describe that feeling I get when I’m in Algonquin.  It’s one of peace, serenity, and the feeling of being able to breathe.  As I said it’s hard to truly understand but I’ll try to explain.  When you live in the city and go through the daily life you sometimes find it hard to breathe.  That life is passing you by and you are missing everything.  Algonquin is my place to breathe, to take in life, and to get rid of all the stress that builds up during the year.

I was introduced to Algonquin when I was around the age of 2.  I don’t know what exactly we did whether2071_62528811202_9479_n it was a canoe trip or just a camping trip and I really don’t remember the trip at all but there is photographic evidence down in my basement.  I’ve grown up there though pretty much every summer since I was around 5/6.  It has been my summer vacation playground.  My home away from home.  It’s where I learned how to canoe and be considerate of nature.  It’s where I discovered who I am as a person.  It’s where I watched my mom come alive.  Where my family felt the closest with no worries or fears.

2071_62528896202_4667_nWhen I saw my mom in Algonquin camping or at our Dorset cottage she was a completely different person.  It was like all the stress of the school year melted away and she was able to relax with us.  She was happy all the time but she was even happier when we were camping.  It wasn’t uncommon for her to make friends at the campgrounds that have ended up being life long friends.  She sat on the beach either reading or knitting, talked with other mom’s, or swam in the lake with us.  There were many times where we would swim from the beach in Canisbay lake to the island across the way or we went for a canoe ride at sunset.

Algonquin is my place to run away from the everyday.  It’s my sanctuary, my place to breathe, my place to live.

Part of me is baffled that there are many many people out there that haven’t had the opportunity to experience it like I have.  My family used to go on overnight canoe trips.  My dad took us kids out for two or three nights at a time.  When we bought a cottage I started to lose that love I had for Algonquin…it was harder for me to have the same feeling and I turned away for a few years.  It wasn’t until I was older and I started camping by myself that I realized how much I missed it.

My love for Algonquin is the main reason I started the blog.  I love being able to share my experiences with others.  I love helping people discover what Algonquin is all about and hopefully discover how much they love it.  Algonquin isn’t for everyone I know that but one can dream.  I hope this makes it a little clearer about why I love it.

~Enjoy your trip!

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MacGregor, Roy: Canoe Lake | Kerry On Can Lit

This is a great write up about the book Canoe Lake by Roy MacGregor!  It gives an inside look at the Winnie Trainer Pregnancy issue.

MacGregor, Roy: Canoe Lake | Kerry On Can Lit.

Back to the Beginning…part 3

This the last post in the series about the history of the park.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it and have learned a little about the place that I love so much.

Photo Credit goes to Todd Feddo http://www.flickr.com/photos/tfebbo/3969943053/

Camping has regularly been a part of Algonquin Park and now a days people don’t think about Algonquin without thinking about camping or canoeing.  There are over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 km’s of streams and rivers to explore.  There are eight designated campgrounds along the HWY 60 corridor with over 1,200 campsites available.  This doesn’t include the sites in the on the edges of the park in three campgrounds which are around 100.  As well there are 18 group campsites at Whitefish Lake campground.

Car camping in Algonquin has become extremely popular over the years with families and groups of friends.  The the most popular time to camp in Algonquin is right now…the first two weeks of August.  Typically the park is full and if you don’t have a reservation you may be out of luck for a campsite.  The recommendation is that you make your reservation as soon as possible for these two weeks.  The best time to camp is June and September.  In September you get the cool crisp air and beautiful fall colours.  In June you get the bugs but you also get a good chance of seeing wildlife like moose.

Interior Camping has always been popular.  It dates back to before Tom Thomson’s days.  Tom used to be a guide in the park taking anglers and outdoorsmen into the interior for a few days.  Now it’s not just the serious woodsmen that head “into the bush”.  It’s families and young adults too.  The beauty about Algonquin is that there are easily accessible paddle in sites where, if you don’t have any experience, you can go and still be close to a campground if problems arise.  Canisbay has 16 as does Rock Lake.  There are access points all around the park including up north in Brent and down south in Haliburton.  Depending on skills and sense of adventure there are a large number of trips that you can do.  The further you go in, the more wild the park becomes.

Something that has become popular over the years is camping in a Yurt.  Yurts are eight-sided, tent-like structures are mounted on a wooden deck floor and offer electric heat.  They can sleep up to six people and are available at Mew Lake and Achray campgrounds.  Yurts can be used year round, which offers people the opportunity to camp in Algonquin in the winter without needing all of the 4 season gear.  Another option that is available is camping in an old Ranger cabin.  These cabins were used back in the early years of the park so that rangers could deal with poachers and and issues that arised with campers.  They don’t have any water or electricity but you’re in nature who needs that .  There are 5 that are accesible by car and the rest are available to paddle in to.

My plan this year is to try something new…first off, Monday I’m heading up Opeongo Lake for the first time.  I’ve never even explored this part of Algonquin Park and I’m excited…I will be cheating a little as we are taking a water taxi, however that lake is unpredictable and windy.  This winter I would love to go to Mew Lake and stay in a Yurt.  If I could snowmobile in I would however its not allowed :(.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this little series and that it has enlightened you a little bit about Algonquin and it’s history.  I’ll blog again before I go on my canoe trip…then I’ll blog all my photos :).

~Enjoy your trip!

Back to the Beginning…Part 2

There has always been a human connection to Algonquin Park.  Whether its the loggers who came in the 1830’s or the tourists that still come today.  Human’s have had a huge part in shaping the park’s history.  Sometimes that history is tragic like that of Tom Thomson or the many lives that were lost during the river drives.  Other times is breathtaking like when you see a family enjoying the beauty and nature that is Algonquin Park.

As mentioned in the last post, logging was really the big turning point for the human history in Algonquin.  In the 1800’s the parks human visitors were loggers and their families.  Towns like Mowat on Canoe Lake sprung up over night and lumber camps were built throughout the park.  It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that people discovered Algonquin as the getaway nature spot.

In 1908, the Hotel Algonquin was built on Joe Lake and the Highland Inn was built on Cache Lake.  Both hotels were connected by the railroad.  The Highland Inn was elegant and beautiful.  It welcomed visitors from all over and became the place to stay.  Visitors were able to get to the lake and enjoy the fishing and canoeing but they were also able to sit and relax on the big covered porch.  The Highland Inn closed in 1957.

In 1908 Algonquin’s oldest summer camp for girls, Camp Northway, opened on Cache Lake.  Camps have been a big part of Algonquin’s history and almost all of them are still operating today.  On Tea Lake you have Camp Tamakwa, which was founded in 1936 by Lou Handler.  Some of you may remember the movie Indian Summer starring Kimberly Williams-Paisley.  This film was filmed on site and was about a group of friends who met while camping at Tamakwa.  On Canoe Lake you have the Taylor Statten Camps Wapomeo and Ahmek.  Ahmek is a boys camp, located across from Hayhurst point,  that was founded in 1921 and Wapomeo is a girls camp, on Wapomeo Island, founded in 1924.

In 1934 Camp Arowhon was founded on Joe Lake by Lily Kates as a way to save her family during the Great Depression.  Camp Arowhon stands on the property where Camp of the Red Gods – a family nature camp – was originally planned to be built.  In 1925 Camp Tanamakoon was founded by Dr Margaret Eaton of Toronto because there was a need for girls to have a camp that they could go to.  Camp Pathfinder is a boys’ camp located on Source Lake that was started in 1919.  The camp is best known for its canoe tripping program. Pathfinder follows a tradition of using wood and canvas canoes.

Human’s have always remained as the backbone of Algonquin’s History.  As a nature getaway from the everyday it draws people of all ages and abilities in.  In the 1950’s and 60’s park usage increased and the need for long term park management became apparent.  Today there are over 1200 campsites along the HWY 60 corridor alone with thousands more in the interior.  Algonquin has always been a place where education on flora fauna and animals is available.  With the logging museum and visitor’s center the education on the Human History is available as well.  Next week we’ll look at the camping side of the park.

~Enjoy your Trip

Sources:  www.tamakwa.com, www.taylorstattencamps.com, wikipedia.com, www.tanamakoon.com

Back at the Beginning…part 1

I’m starting a short series about the history of Algonquin Park.  Most of the history is publicly available through the bookstores at both the Visitor’s Center and the Logging Museum.  Today we’re looking at the early history.  Part 2 will be the human history and Part 3 will be looking at Algonquin as the camper’s getaway.

Before the 1800’s, the only human’s that accessed Algonquin were small groups/families of aboriginal people.  They used the park as a source of food by fishing, hunting, and collecting berries.  The area was virtually untouched.

That all changed with the loggin boom that came up from the Ottawa Valley to log the great white pine.  Logging started about 1830 and peaked in the 1860’s but continued into the early 1900’s.  In 1846 141,600 cubic meters of red and white pine were sent down the Madawaska, Bonnechere, and Petewawa Rivers.  In 1881 it was made easier by the arrival of the Canada Central Railway and then in 1897 timber barron J.R.Booth established the Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound Railway.  Today the only remnants of that railway is the old bike trail from Rock Lake to Mew Lake and parts of the old trail by Cache Lake.

Logging In Algonquin Park Video (courtesy of the Friends of Algonquin Park)

In 1893, Algonquin National Park was created, not to stop logging but to establish a wildlife reserve.  The act was passed by  Oliver Mowat’s Liberal government.  Algonquin was the very first provincial park created in Ontario and was named a provincial park in 1913.  With the construction of the railway in 1896, Algonquin became easily accesible for the outdoor enthusiast.

With the railway came  settlements so the families of the railway workers as well as the lumbermen had a place to live.  The village of Mowat on Canoe Lake was founded in 1893 as a logging camp for the Gilmour Lumber Company.  As well Park Headquarters were established nearby and housed superintendent Peter Thomson, who was replaced in 1898 by George Bartlett.  In 1897 the village of Mowat had 500 residents and park headquarters was relocated to Cache Lake.

With George Bartlett at the helm in 1898 the province was determined to make the park self-sufficient.  Thus short-term leases were given for cottages, resorts, and camps.  In 1908 Hotel Algonquin was opened on Joe Lake and the Highland Inn was built on Cache Lake.  In 1913, using the boarding house of the former Gilmour Logging Company, Mowat Lodge (the first one) was started.  That lodge mysteriously burnt down and a second Mowat Lodge was built further down the lake.

~Enjoy your trip!

Sources used: Friends of Algonquin Park – Logging in Algonquin, Algonquinpark.on.ca, Algonquin Forestry, Glimpses of Algonquin

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