I am truly awed by the Canadian National and Provincial Park system! Boardwalks, steep wooden staircases or rock hewn steps traverse the wilderness, not only making it more accessible but protecting the natural environment. There are ‘facilities’ in utterly remote spots and such delightfully polite notices requesting that you stay on paths so as not to destroy rare species.
The Bruce Peninsular is part of the Niagara escarpment, to the north west of Toronto. It protrudes up between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, part of a ridge that continues through Manitoulin Island to the north shore. Rocky alvars and shallow sandy beaches on the western Huron shore contrast with steep cliffs, wonderful rock formations and the staggeringly azure blue of the deep water of Georgian Bay. Once upon a time, when this area was sub-tropical, the waters of the lakes were much lower and the now submerged ridges formed a waterfall comparable with Niagara Falls.
This was a true Canadian vacation – the summer retreat to the cottage, often somewhat rustic, is so much a part of the culture here. We rented a wing of a cottage on Hay Bay, looking out over lake Huron just outside Tobermory, the small town on the tip of the peninsular. It was so peaceful that we could have spent all week soaking up the view. We thoroughly enjoyed just curling up in the hammock or sitting at the end of the dock with a book (and the hot tub at dusk).
However, there is a great deal to relish in this area. We only travelled within about a 20K radius, and yet, because of the nature of the escarpment, we seemed to encounter so many different types of landscape and vegetation, from the largest forested area in Ontario to rare orchids and carnivorous marsh plants.
Paul saw a Black Bear (I just saw the bushes move as it retreated from the road) and we were also granted a photo opportunity by a Massasauga Rattler, the only venomous snake in Ontario on the same evening! We had header out for the unique experience of a home-cooked (very delicious) group meal followed by voyageur story telling (recitations) connected to the Lake. Definitely a night touched by magic . . .
Loathe to leave, we took the long way home, tracking much of the Georgian Bay shore – I still find it hard not to think of these huge bodies of water as sea – truly the Great Lakes. We took in a trio of gardens, the last of which in particular was a true delight for the soul. But that’s a story for another day . . .
(I have put up a few of our photos to liven up this post, but we took quite a number and will add these to the gallery as and when we have time!)