- Helen Kohl
Ontario’s spectacularly remote Wabakimi Provincial Park
February's presentation took viewers North to the wilderness park few people see.
Wabakimi Provincial Park is Ontario’s ultimate remote wilderness experience.
Located north of Lake Nipissing and Thunder Bay, the place is relatively unknown, considering that, at close to a million hectares, it’s Ontario’s largest operating park. Wabakimi Park is even bigger than Prince Edward Island, and its more than 10,000 lakes are interconnected with 2,000 kilometres of waterways that have been a paddlers’ paradise for centuries.
According to Evan McCaul, the assistant park superintendent, the name Wabakimi is thought to come from the Ojibway word Waubishkaugimi, meaning “white water,” possibly after the beauty of the sun shining on its waters.
People have inhabited the region for over 7,000 years, and its First Nations were the area’s original guides for explorers and fur traders. Today, five different First Nation communities continue their traditional use of the area, says McCaul. “And visitors can find traditional campsites, rock paintings and even artifacts throughout the park. Its Cliff Lake is one of northern Ontario’s most significant pictograph sites, with more than 60 different pictograph collections.”
Intrepid visitors can take multi-day canoe trips on the park’s Allenwater River, paddle the huge Whitewater Lake, or visit Whitewater Lake’s Best Island, home of the inventor Wendell Beckwith. Armed with binoculars and luck, you just may spot woodland caribou, moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, wolves, wolverines, lynx and other wildlife typical of the park’s Boreal Forest landscape.
But you’ll need to get there first. If you’ve got four-wheel drive, you can try one of the two roads into the park. Or you can put your canoe on a Via train that will take it to a railway siding near the tiny hamlet of Armstrong near the park, and paddle in from there. Or you can commandeer a bush plane in Thunder Bay and fly in.
Thanks to McCaul, who provided this information for the Parry Sound Nature Club’s Feb. 16 presentation. Go to the Parry Sound Nature Club Facebook page for McCaul’s full presentation and to learn about the club’s next presentation, Bundle Up! Turtles in the Winter, on Wednesday, March 16 at 4 p.m.
Helen Kohl is a member of the Parry Sound Nature Club.