Quetico Park Celebrates 100th Anniversary

     The Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario’s oldest and largest park is celebrating its 100 Year Anniversary as a wilderness. To celebrate this anniversary there will be a Centennial Canoe Voyage beginning in Atikokan, Ontario on the 1st of July.  A crew will paddle their way through the Quetico Park, Voyageur’s National Park, Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters and make their way back to Thunder Bay on July 18th.  


     The lay of the land of the Quetico Park was created years ago.   The rugged landscape with long narrow lakes carved out by the gouging glaciers created a wilderness water highway for the trading of goods.  Portage paths were made to travel from one lake to the next in order to avoid the steep rock cliffs made of some of the planet’s oldest granite. 


    The untouched wilderness of years ago teemed with fish and a large variety of wildlife.  Pine trees grew from the thin soil of the boreal forest and lichens and moss clung to the granite.  The wilderness was relatively unspoiled until the arrival of the French Explorers in the 1600’s.  Then the exchange of goods between the English Fur Traders and the Cree and Anishinaabe people who fished, hunted and trapped animals in their wilderness home began through the hard work of the French Voyageurs.   

     It wasn’t long before the land felt the pressure of the people with lakes being stripped of fish and wildlife being over hunted. By 1892 the Royal Commission of Fish and Game had this to report, “The clearing of the land, the cutting down of the forests the introduction of railways, the ravages of wolves and the indiscriminate hunting and the use of dynamite and nets have all contributed to the decrease of game and fish.  This is indeed a deplorable state of affairs.”

     There were some who agreed with the Royal Commission and they were concerned with the state of the scarred landscape.  While loggers and miners were anxious to stake a claim on the area a Civil War General by the name of Christopher C. Andrews was also anxious to set aside some land that encompassed both the United States and Canada .   

     “After hundreds of years of regarding the wilderness as an enemy to be exploited and destroyed, some people in the US and Canada began to have a change of heart…fearing that their natural character and strength would disappear along with the wilderness” Stan Walsh  

     So it was in 1909 the United States set aside 1.4 million acres and named it the Superior National Forest .   Canada would follow suit and across the border 1 million acres would then be referred to as the Quetico Forest Reserve.  

     The name has changed a few times through the years and eventually became the Quetico Provincial Park ; the largest and oldest park in Ontario that contains rock dating back some 3 billion years.  

     Today the waterways and portage paths of the canoe country are still used but instead of fur traders paddling the lakes it is just “normal” people.  People who seek to find solitude in a natural setting of pine studded shorelines and crystal clear lakes.  Those who yearn to see the bright stars shine and experience the magical wilderness of the Quetico Provincial Park .

Another reason to celebrate is this year marks the 25th year Janice Matichuk has been the Ranger in the Quetico Park’s Cache Bay.  More on that story another day!