Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bruce Peninsula of Ontario, Canada

No horticulturalist or botanist should ever visit the Bruce Peninsula of Ontario without reading this beast of a 300 page book that tells you where all the goodies are. The region is among the most diverse for plant and animal life in all of Canada and the Great Lakes region. The lake modified climate and variable geology creates a perfect mixture of north and south in this vegetation transition zone. In a few pockets of the Niagara Escarpment range that were not effect by logging and forest fires over 100 years ago...there remain the oldest trees east of the Mississippi River...at least 5 exceeding 1000 years of age near the small town of Lions Head ( http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~adk/oldlisteast/Spp/THOC.html ). A dead Arborvitae on Flowerpot Island has 1653 growth rings.

Tobermory & Bruce Peninsula National Park
Tobermory is a town at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula that is built around 2 natural harbors called Big Tub and Little Tub. To the left of Tobermory is Lake Huron, to the east is Georgian Bay. The town of 1200 ( much larger in tourist season ) offers excellent restaurants featuring locally caught whitefish and clothing stores. The area is blessed with surrounding natural attractions of Flowerpot Island to the north and Bruce Peninsula National Park to the south. Much of the tourism is from people coming to enjoy the areas natural treasures which include among the highest diversity of plant and animal life in Canada. There is also a bookstore in town that specialized in nature guides and books. Kayaking is also very popular as is swimming at the Grotto. The hike to the shoreline jewel called "The Grotto" is very beautiful as it passes an inland Lake called Cyprus Lake.

* travel video of The Grotto on youtube

Another trail winds around the western side of Cyprus Lake. During a severe drought during the 1908 summer...one of the largest forest fires in Canadian history razed much of the Bruce Peninsula. While much of the forest has grown back...the trees are not of the giant size that supported the areas lumber economy of the late 1890s and early 1900s. Tobermory still serves as a commercial fishing port. There is public swimming at the Big Tub Lighthouse. The Bruce Peninsula is a major bird migration route and excellent birding can be found in the wetlands, forests and shorelines all over the peninsula. The tallest bird lookout tower in Canada is located just outside Tobermory at the Parks Canada Visitor Center.
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Features pristine beaches, inland lakes and the largest remaining continuous forest in southern Ontario where over 40 species of orchids can be found in the wild.
Fathom Five National Marine Park is nearby offering islands and crystal clear water. It is the scuba diving capital of Canada. Many shipwrecks from the early 1900s can be seen here.
Flowerpot Island
Is well known for its unique natural rock pillers. On the island, you can visit the historic light house, climb stairs into a cave, swim in the clear water and hike the many trails. The 4.3 km of trails on this 200 hectare island goes through caves, old growth Arborvitae forests and many ferns and rare wildflowers.

* travel videos on youtube
M.S. Chi Cheemaun is a large car and truck ferry that leaves from the port of Tobermory to the famous Manitoulin Island.
The Sunset Cruise and the Scenic Glass Bottom Tours operated by the Blue Heron Company are a great way to experience Tobermory's maritime vibe from out at sea.

* photos taken on July 14 2016

* historical archives article on the Massassauga

Bruce County

* map of county

Lions Head
A small town with a sandy beach on Georgian Bay, a boat marina and great views of the Niagara Escarpment where there is excellent hiking.

* photos taken on July 15 2016

* travel video on youtube

Manitoulin Island
To the west of Tobermory in Lake Huron; it is the largest island surrounded by fresh water in the world.

* travel videos on youtube

* historical archive photos

* video on youtube of the Cup and Saucer Trail which is known for its 12 km of hiking trails that include outlooks from 233 foot cliffs.

* video on youtube of Gordon's Park on Manitoulin Island.

* youtube video of Misery Bay on Manitoulin Island

* additional youtube videos of Manitoulin Island

A small town in interior Bruce County. The Bruce County Rail Trail ( formerly a railroad ) runs through town including Witter's Pond.

Miller Lake
One of many inland lakes on the Bruce Peninsula...Miller Lake is the largest, offering crystal clear water for motorboating and kayaking. There is excellent camping as well as Bed and Breakfasts overlooking the lake.

Owen Sound
The largest city in the region...and yet even they have some stunning natural attractions.

* historical archive photo

* travel video on youtube

Parry Sound
Not part of Bruce County but a popular and very beautiful tourist destination across Georgian Bay.

* historical archive photo

Port Elgin
McGregor Point Park is a large natural area offering quality shoreline and forest ecosystems. It is just south of the town of Port Elgin.

* travel video on youtube

Red Bay
A small town offering safe swimming in a sandy cove on Lake Huron. It offers great boating, resorts and campgrounds. The hiking and birding oppertunities are excellent. The very rare natural ecosystem of coastal meadow marsh can be found near Red Bay at Petrel Point Nature Reserve. Many endangered plants including Orchids and carniverous plants can be found here. Evergreen Resort is a popular resort in the area.

* travel video on youtube

Sauble Beach
7 miles of clean sandy beach that is among the best on Lake Huron. Sauble Beach is a town built where the Ausable River empties into Lake Huron. The beach is sandy with some of the warmest waters found on Lake Huron during summer. The endangered Piping Plovers can be found at north Sauble Beach ( they can also be found on the shores of Georgian Bay at Wasaga Beach ).

* travel video on youtube

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures
In neighboring Gray County to the east offers a 0.5 mile zip ride in the tree tops, a 420 foot suspension bridge and caves to explore.

Saugeen Shores
Over 50 km of nature trails offering excellent hiking and skiing.

* travel video on youtube
Not part of Bruce County but a small town on the mainland to the northwest opposite Manitoulin Island.

* historical archive photo

Spirit Rock Conservation Area
A great place to get a spectacular view of Colpoys Bay from the top of the Niagara Escarpment. There is also access to the Bruce Trail as well as a spiral staircase to the shore of Georgian Bay. Spirit Roc is located north of Wiarton on Highway 6.

* travel video on youtube

A small town offering hiking on the spectacular Chantry Dunes that are protected with recently re-established dune grass. Many migratory birds flock at Chantry Island which is a federal bird sanctuary. Fiery Lake in Southampton has many trails and great views. The limestone ampitheatre and gardens overlooking the Saugeen River at Saugeen First Nation is a must see. Saugeen First Nation is just north of Southampton. A former railway is now the Saugeen Rail Trail. The boardwalk and the north shore trail also offers great hiking. There is also much natural forest along the Saugeen River...especially east of Denny's Dam.

* travel videos on youtube

Stokes Bay
A tiny town with a boat marina and excellent hiking where many rare wildflowers can be found. There are also great campgrounds and a general store.

* travel video on youtube

The largest town on the Bruce Peninsula borders on Colpoys Bay which is part of Georgian Bay. The Bruce Trail runs through town including Bluewater Park on the waterfront.

* travel video on youtube

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