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Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Algonquin Provincial Park Overview

Algonquin Park was formed in 1893. Its original primary purpose was as a timber reserve designed to keep forest-clearing settlers out of valuable timber lands. Preservation was only a secondary purpose. In 1896, lumber baron J.R. Booth completed the Ottawa, Arnpriror & Parry Sound railway (OA & PS) through the southern portion of the park. Though designed to haul timber logs out of the park, it allowed the vast expanse of Algonquin to be opened up for tourism. Highway 60 was completed in 1933, further opening the Park to visitors. The OA & PS railway was abandoned in 1947; logging was now becoming a tertiary purpose of the park. Throughout the 1960s, the number of visitors to the park increased exponentially. Organized campgrounds were created and/or expanded. Today, Algonquin is primarily a nature reserve.

Flora-and-fauna : The Algonquin forest is actually not boreal, as most believe, but a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees. This means that an increased biodiversity occurs. Though deer were once prominent throughout the park, the moose has largely replaced them. Moose frequently sit by the side of provincial Highway 60, eating swamp-grasses in spring and summer and can be seen licking salt off the roads in winter. Moose are likely the only large animal most people are likely to encounter. Many people may stumble across a spruce grouse on a trail in the early morning. These birds believe their camouflage is invincible, and you could get as close as 30 centimetres. There are small wolf and lynx populations in the isolated portions of the park. Algonquin lakes have sizable fish populations, but fishing is regulated in all lakes. Not all of Algonquin's plants and animals are one you would like to have around you. In the southern reaches of the park (Below Highway 60), poison ivy is widespread. Be careful when bushwacking. From late April to Early June, the dreaded Blackfly is very active. These small insects will bite a chunk of skin off in order to get to the blood. They are known for their tendency to bite around the eyes, and occasionally an unfortunate human has to deal with a blackfly that has gone into the eye. Once the blackflies die off, they are replaced by mosquitoes. Both blackflies and mosquitoes can be easily fended off with DEET insect repellent.
Climate : Summers are generally warm but not excessively hot. Days in June and July may achieve more than 30 C. May and August are often warm, but may also have daytime temperatures some years as low as 5-10 C, and near freezing overnight. The townsite accommodations at Waskesui Lake are often heavily booked from ~June 15 to ~August 20 because of being almost certain to have fine sunny weather. The park is open in winter for cross country skiing and other adventures, but little used
How To Get In : Highway 11 starts in Regina (capital of the Province of Saskatchewan), proceeds north through Saskatoon and Prince Albert, then along the eastern side of the park. Most travellers will either fly into Saskatoon and rent a car, or drive north from the TransCanada highway which passes through Regina, or the YellowHead highway (highway #16, another trans-Canada route from Edmonton to the West to Saskatoon and east to Winnpeg). Passenger bus service is available into the townsite of Waskesui, which may please those who are interested in a resort village and beaches and don't need to travel out far.
Fees/Permits : A permit is required to use the park's facilities. A daily permit costs $14.00, and it is good for only one day. An Ontario Parks season's pass costs $80.00, 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 $22.00 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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