Georgian Bay Islands National Park of Canada is located in the 30,000 islands area, which just happens to be the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. Here, you will discover diverse wildlife, spectacular landscapes, and the singular beauty of the rugged Canadian Shield; not to mention a cultural history that dates back to more than five thousand years ago. This group of magnificent islands is only accessible by boat, with the largest, Beausoleil, offering tent camping, hiking and biking trails, geocaching, boat slips for private vessels, and more. Let’s take a closer look at some of the wonders that await here, in what is one of the best features the Muskokas have to offer.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park has a passenger vessel, the DayTripper, which leaves from Honey Harbour, which is about 15 km from Port Severn.
Natural Wonders Throughout the Seasons
With windswept pines and barren rocks scraped clean by glacial activity, the Park’s islands lie on the edge of the Canadian Shield, which is distinguished by its’ pink-hued rocks. The islands display different features that tell the geologic story of the region’s formation, with the northern islands and the north portion of Beausoleil Island being more rugged, and the southern areas, including southern Beausoleil Island having thicker soil and richly splendid hardwood forests. Colourful wildflowers thrive throughout the islands, and during the Autumn months, the forests are transformed to a riot of shimmering golden and red hues that delight the eyes. Wintertime visitors to Beausoleil Island enjoy cross country skiing, enjoying the peace and quiet that only a forest blanketed in snow can provide.
Plants and Wildlife
Home to both northern and southern animal species, the islands of Georgian Bay are renowned for their reptile and amphibian life. The only dangerous species here, and the only venomous snake in Ontario, is the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, which is protected by law; if you see one, you should contact park staff so that it can be safely relocated to an area where neither it nor other visitors are in harms’ way. During the spring, a huge variety of birds make their way to the islands, treating visitors to colour and song alike. Small creatures such as chipmunks, turtles, and frogs are often encountered, and larger creatures such as deer, raccoons, mink, and river otters are sometimes seen. Plant life varies throughout the islands; larger islands feature a mixed array of plants, while smaller islands often showcase only a few species. Such floral delights as orchids and trilliums are highlights no plant enthusiast can resist.
Archaeologists have found evidence of the Aboriginal people who inhabited the islands for thousands of years, and though the occasional arrowhead or pottery shard can be found, one of the best places to see how Native and Settler life collided is at the Cedar Spring area, where 16 log houses, two barns, a church, and over 80 hectares of land cleared for crop use once supported a thriving community.
A hike along the Cambrian Trail on Beausoleil Island is a must; no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll enjoy incomparable vistas, with views of blue water and colourful botanical life providing photographers with splendid opportunities. Bicycling, canoeing and kayaking, and camping, either in a tent or in a cabin, top the list of activities available here. Fishing is popular as well, and sunning is always an option for those who feel like relaxing.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park includes 59 islands, yet it covers only 12 square kilometres; locate