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Insider Insights: Articles

Outdoor Report: Call of the wilderness, Algonquin

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By Suzanne Leonard
Weather Broadcaster
Thursday, June 5, 2014, 6:56 PM

In a country like Canada so abundantly graced with national and provincial parks of awe-inspiring beauty and majestic landscapes it’s impossible to say whether one or another is “the best.”

Far better to celebrate this abundance by trying to visit and experience as many as possible for yourself, and you’ll read about some truly “don’t miss” locations in this weekly Outdoor Report. Inevitably, outdoor lovers make deep connections with the places they love most and return to them again and again. Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park is that place for me.

OUTDOOR REPORT: Fossil Hunts and Cliff Hikes

Algonquin was created in 1893 making it the province’s first provincial park. It was favored by the Group of Seven and is synonymous with the work of Canadian painter, Tom Thomson. It sits on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield, a rugged land of lakes, forest and rock. Its many campgrounds, hiking trails and backcountry canoe and portage trails have created memories for generations of Ontario campers - I’ve been ‘tripping’ here for 20 years. It’s famous well beyond the province’s borders attracting many out-of-province and international visitors every year – so, have YOU visited yet?

Algonquin Provincial Park is a sprawling 7630 square km, bigger than Prince Edward Island.

View from the Centennial Ridges trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

View from the Centennial Ridges trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

It lies east of Georgian Bay - the main access West Gate is about a 3 ½ hour drive north east of Toronto, the East Gate is about 2 ½ hours north west from Ottawa. One of the best places to start your visit is at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre. Beautiful interpretative displays, artwork, a film presentation plus sweeping views bring to life the park’s rich and varied history and landscapes.

If you’re visiting for the day check in at the West or East Gate to purchase a pass and get information about the hiking and biking trails, beach and picnic sites available. For overnight visitors there are many campgrounds located along the highway 60 corridor with both electrical and non-electrical sites. Walk-in bookings can be limited during the busy summer season so it’s always best to book ahead. An imaginative interpretative program also provides many opportunities for family fun. Get more information about the park here.

The call of the wilderness draws many people to the park’s vast interior and its 2000km of canoeing and portage trails. There are 29 access points around the park perimeter and many outfitters nearby where you can rent canoes and gear. Like with any wilderness activity it is critical to be properly prepared before you head out. That means having all the right provisions and equipment - it’s equally important to have the proper skills and knowledge.

Portaging my canoe ‘Algonquin Bound,’ Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Portaging my canoe ‘Algonquin Bound,’ Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

That way you can travel independently and safely, and have an enjoyable backcountry trip. Being prepared means knowing the forecast, check the Algonquin Provincial Park weather here and get the bug report too.

Closer to home now, without proper tending our gardens can take on their own wild look! A garden is never really “finished.” There are always holes to fill in, new plants you want to try or plants that need dividing because they’re getting too big or too crowded. Some varieties of perennials need regular division in order to keep performing at their peak, while smaller plants can often be divided as long as they’re well-established and healthy. The other benefit – they’re FREE.

Here’s how to get started:

In my garden: Doronicum/Leopard’s Bane

In my garden: Doronicum/Leopard’s Bane

  • Take a close look at the plant you want to divide, decide how many smaller plants you are going to cut out from the main plant and where you’ll put each one.
  • Prepare the new planting spot(s) by pushing away the covering layer of mulch. You can also dig a hole of the approximate size you’ll need, but I find it easier to wait until I have the new plant in hand.
  • Get the complete “how to” transplanting tips list here.

“We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.”
William Hazlitt

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