“a frontcountry park with backcountry scenery”
Discover the iconic Canadian landscape of Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Located in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, the 30,000 islands, it is at Georgian Bay Islands National Park that you will discover spectacular landscapes, time-worn rock faces, diverse habitats, the rugged beauty of the Canadian Shield and cultural history dating back 5,000 years. These magnificent islands are accessible by boat only. Visitors can also explore the largest island, Beausoleil, which offers tent camping, overnight and day docking, geocaching, hiking and biking trails and interpretive activities. Georgian Bay Islands National Park consists of 63 small islands or parts of islands in Georgian Bay, near Port Severn, Ontario. The park was established in 1929. The total park area is approximately 13.5 km2 (5.2 sq mi). Prior to the creation of Fathom Five National Marine Park, Flowerpot Island was also a part of the park. The islands blend the exposed rocks and pines of the Canadian Shield with the hardwood forests found further south. The park can only be reached by boat; there are limited camping facilities on the largest island, Beausoleil Island. The park provides habitat for 33 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the threatened eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Some of the more isolated islands provide nesting areas for colonies of gulls and terns. The park is part of the Georgian Bay Littoral Biosphere Reserve. Windswept white pine, rock faces scraped bare, and wide, wild waters number among the most prominent features of Georgian Bay Islands National Park. These characteristics are what drew a collective of painters—known as the Group of Seven—to the area during the 1920s. Their paintings, done in strong, bold brushstrokes, wove the park into the fabric of the Canadian national identity. A frontcountry park with backcountry scenery, Georgian Bay’s vistas and accessibility make it a popular destination. Beausoleil is the park’s largest island, with facilities that include docks, 130 campsites, and 8 rustic cabins. It also boasts a network of 11 well-marked and groomed trails ranging from wheelchair-accessible walking paths to more difficult scrambles across the Precambrian rock of the Canadian Shield. Beausoleil’s size has made it a popular seasonal stopover for centuries. Natives first used the island as a base for hunting and trading as far back as 7,000 years ago. Early voyageurs marked it as a midpoint on their travels between the Severn River and north Georgian Bay. The southeast side of Beausoleil hosts evidence of a 19th-century Ojibway village, abandoned when the poor quality of the island’s thin, acidic soil drove the community west to more arable environs. But while Beausoleil’s glaciated ridges proved too rugged to work, they were perfect for settling. The Georgian Bay cottage boom that cropped up in the early 1900s surrounds the park on all sides. Thanks to a handful of locals, whose petitions led the government to establish the park in 1929, visitors today can still find pristine beauty among the 63 park islands and islets that pepper the shore between Honey Harbour and Twelve Mile Bay. Though all islands are open to the public, Bone is the only island besides Beausoleil to offer services, including docking facilities, outhouses, and picnic tables.
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Georgian Bay Islands National Park
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