St Lawrence Islands, Ontario on the map. National Park St Lawrence Islands, Ontario on the map of Canada

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St Lawrence Islands, Ontario on the map. National Park St Lawrence Islands, Ontario on the map of Canada

St Lawrence Islands, Ontario

Established: 1914   Acreage: 1250

Long before written history, early North Americans believed that petals of heavenly flowers fell to earth and were scattered on the mighty river, creating the Thousand Islands, the Garden of the Great Spirit. Today, part of this garden has become Canada's smallest national park —St Lawrence Islands.

A short walk across an island can take one from a northern coniferous forest to a stand of southern hardwood. Hot, dry southwest slopes, exposed to sun and wind, create a climate typical of latitudes much further south. In contrast, protected northeast slopes are cool, moist and shaded. This phenomenon, called 'microclimate,' maintains the islands' remarkable variety of flora and fauna. The pitch pine—the park's symbol—flourishes here, along with the wild turkey and the nonpoisonous black rat snake.

For plants and animals, the granite domes of the Thousand Islands present a timeless challenge which has been no less real for man. Indians, explorers, fur traders and missionaries witnessed the subtle beauty of the Thousand Islands while seeking the adventure of a new land. In 1812, at the outbreak of war between Britain and the United States, settlers found themselves on the country's most vital water route. The St Lawrence was the only route for guns, ammunition and supplies. The railways built after the American Civil War brought many tourists, transforming the Thousand Islands into one of the earliest recreational areas in Canada.

Far right: Many rare plants and animals are found in St Lawrence Islands National Park, among them the striking pitch pine—the park's symbol.

Below: Visitors to the St Lawrence Islands can enjoy the solitude of an afternoon spent canoeing the waters of the park.

 

St Lawrence Islands, Ontario on the map. National Park St Lawrence Islands, Ontario on the map of Canada