Lake of Two Rivers, Algonquin Provincial Park

Killarney Lodge cabin and Canoe; Lake of Two Rivers, Algonquin P

Algonquin Provincial Park lies roughly halfway between Toronto and Ottawa, in southcentral Ontario. It is Shield country, a piece of Canada’s iconic north.Back at the turn of the last century, this part of the country drew members of the Group of Seven painting troupe,  a.k.a. The Algonquin School, to its deep pine and maple forests, moose-haunted spruce bogs, and glacier-scraped lakes. Check out permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Collection, or the National Gallery in Ottawa to see what I mean… 

Those paintings and, later, explorations of those forests and lakes by foot and canoe, inspired in me what has become a life-long love of nature and the outdoors. What started as a Boy Scout handbook of adventure, with just enough danger to keep a young man with an over-active imagination interested (the occasional bear attack; the murder of a famous painter), has matured into what has become today something almost… spiritual.

In any case, these days the park’s natural environment still inspires painters and photographers, including yours truly (see my Algonquin photo gallery at 500px).

Today, despite living in the world’s largest city, I continue to seek out time in nature  to reconnect with the grace, beauty, and adventure which I found first in those paintings and later in the real thing, Canada Wild, red and tooth and claw. My travels have taken me to the Canadian Rockies, the Japanese and European Alps, the elf-painted wastelands of Iceland. Still, I return to Ontario every summer to re-connect with friends and family, so when my partner R. was ready to experience some Canadian wilderness, Algonquin was one of the first places I brought her.

This was not her first trip to the Great Outdoors – she has accompanied me on many of the trips noted above. Still, she is more comfortable in a cabin than tent, so when we decided to visit Algonquin I arranged a stay at Killarney Lodge on the shore of Lake of Two Rivers in the southern part of the Park, along the Highway 60 corridor. From here we hiked highland trails, canoed the interior lakes (though we didn’t attempt any of Algonquin’s notorious portages), and cycled along an old rail bed through bear meadows.

These days, I have to admit, Algonquin feels a little more comfortable and a little less wilderness than it did when I was a young man – though thoughts of trips into the remote backcountry still set my wanderlust a-tremble. Even so, the busy Highway 60 corridor still provides a memorable first taste of that bog-N Nature which got me out of doors all those years ago…