Niagara Gazette

Features

June 29, 2006

Curing your outdoor fever

Visiting Ontario's Algonquin Park may answer the call of the wild

If you have beaver fever, Algonquin Provincial Park is where you want to light overnight, for a week or the entire summer, excluding the first two weeks in May, known in Ontario as black fly season.

“If you can tolerate the flies — big as bats, or so it seems, when they bite — you could spend the whole spring and summer here,” said Janie Norville, a Niagara Falls resident who braves the pests every year.

Norvile said she wants to enjoy wilderness for the entire season of warmth. She takes four to five months each year from her job as a casino dealer to fish, canoe and laze on the beaches strewn among the preserve’s more than 4,000 square miles of forests, lakes and rivers.

She and her housemate are bare-bone campers, preferring Algonquin’s no-frills, hard-ground spaces to the mini subdivisions for recreational vehicles sucking up electricity and water. RV-posh or rock-hard tent flooring, Algonquin’s more than 100 camp developments are picturesque, the trees and brush secluding each site.

Nearly two-thirds of the estimated 12 million annual visitors who visit this provincial park overnight or longer share Norville’s penchant for the earthly life — cooking over the wood fire, showering in the communal bath, walking and biking through the wilderness.

The park also contains amenities more suitable to someone of Ted Bounds’ sensitivities. This Lockport resident visits Algonquin every winter, circulating among the park’s several resort hotels.

“I love nature up close,” he said. “But I like to commune in comfort. I’m a skier, and I like to know there’s a hot buttered rum awaiting me in a formal dining room.”

Algonquin is in Canada’s highlands, settled by nomadic aboriginals who fished, hunted and picked berries. In the 1700s and 1800s, pioneer loggers from the Ottawa Valley invaded Algonquin in search of the immense white pine trees whose prized wood was increasingly demanded by an expanding British economy.

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