Bruce Peninsula, Ontario on the map. National Park Bruce Peninsula, Ontario on the map of Canada

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Bruce Peninsula, Ontario on the map. National Park Bruce Peninsula, Ontario on the map of Canada

Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

Established: 1988   Acreage: 66,739

The story of prehistoric Ontario is revealed in the rocks and landforms of Bruce Peninsula, a finger of limestone separating Georgian Bay from the main basin of Lake Huron. At the peninsula's tip lies the Bruce Peninsula National Park, an area of limestone cliffs, mixed woodlots, abundant wetlands and tranquil beaches. At one time the park area was covered by a glacier, which scraped away the topsoil, scratched the rocks and littered the area with boulders transported from the north.

The park is dominated by the spectacular Niagara Escarpment. Marked by a rugged wall of limestone, the escarpment

crosses southern Ontario, heads up the Georgian Bay side of the peninsula, and submerges in the bay, reappearing as islands. In the park, this rough tableland of limestone meets the Georgian Bay in cliffs and cobblestone beaches, forming the park's eastern boundary. The Niagara Escarpment originated four million years ago in the remains of coral and other creatures that built up, forming limestone, on the shallow sea. As the weak layers beneath the limestone began to erode, large sections of limestone broke off, forming the escarpment.

Despite a fire in the late 1800s that decimated the original forest, 'the Bruce' is a botanist's paradise. The park is covered with a mixed and often dense forest of cedar, balsam, fir, spruce, birch and aspen, and has over 40 species of orchids, 20 species of ferns and five species of insectivorous plants.

Over 100 species of birds, as well as deer, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, beaver, chipmunk and fox are regularly seen in the park. The Bruce is also a haven for the rare Massaguaga rattlesnake. Ontario's best known hiking trail—the Bruce Trail —is in the park.

The park area encompasses Fathom Five National Marine Park, Canada's first national marine park. Fathom Five includes the treacherous waters of the Cape Hurd Islands area at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. One of the best known of the islands is Flowerpot Island, a large and distinctive island that derives its name from large limestone pillars formed by the erosion of the adjacent cliffs on the southeastern shore. Growths of bushes and plants on the tops and in crevices of the columns have accentuated their resemblance to flowerpots. According to the local folklore, the caves and flowerpots of this beautiful island were shrouded in ancient taboos. Today, however, the island is known for its walking trails, picnic areas, rare orchids and, of course, its flowerpot rock formations.

Right: The treacherous waters at the tip of Bruce Peninsula once claimed many ships. Today, scuba divers explore the remains of these vessels.

Below: To the native population, Flowerpot Island—named for the distinctive shape of the rock pillars—was once a land cloaked in taboos and mystery.


Bruce Peninsula, Ontario on the map. National Park Bruce Peninsula, Ontario on the map of Canada