Adventures at Bon Echo Yesterday and Today By Tamara van DykToday Bon Echo is one of the busiest provincial parks in the Ontario Parks system, offering a range of recreational opportunities. People can create their own adventure from extreme sports such as rock climbing and interior camping to softer adventures including RV camping and swimming. Bon Echo offers a wide range of opportunities for you to create your own adventure. The Lap of Luxury at the Turn of the Century Early recreation at Bon Echo was much more luxurious prior to the establishment of the Park. In 1900 Weston and Florence Price built the three storey Bon Echo Inn as a Christian retreat. This was similar to the grand inns of the Muskokas and Adirondacks. Extensive logging had recently cleared the land of old growth trees so that the landscape was quite different than it is today. When Bon Echo Inn was purchased by the Denisons in 1910 visitors were often artists, poets, and spiritualists. Many took their canvases and paintbrushes to their favourite places around Mazinaw Lake and set up to paint for the day. Others participated in plays by Merrill Denison and his mother Flora MacDonald Denison. A small stage was built on a beach for the actors, not far from where the Visitor Centre now stands. Visitors could also choose to hike with a picnic lunch to the top of Mazinaw Rock using the metal stairs that were bolted to the cliff. People could leisurely paddle a canoe to examine the mysterious pictographs. Badminton and fishing were popular. As far back as the early 1900s, Bon Echo began to take shape as a tourist destination providing a natural inspiration for those seeking adventure and beauty in a wild place.
|Merril Denison and A.Y. Jackson show off their catch of the day|
Choose your own adventure Car Camping Families preferring a softer camping experience can book one of the 480 car campsites. Here you may pull in, set up, and enjoy all the luxury you can pack into your vehicle. Many campsites are large enough to hold three shelters and five other friends or family members. You may keep one vehicle on the campsite and park all extra vehicles in the Additional Vehicle Parking Lot to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding forest.Walk-in Campsites In addition to car camping you may choose to canoe or hike into a variety of campsites. If the idea of a walk-in campsite is something you are willing to try, you can book one of five premium Bon Echo sites that offer you a short hike into a beautiful waterfront campsite in view of Mazinaw Rock. These sites provide more privacy and a soft wilderness experience. Backcountry or Interior Camping Bon Echo offers the adventure of packing in and out to a more remote site. The five walk-in-sites on the Abes and Essens Trail ensure your own private piece of paradise. You are provided with your own campsite, picnic table, and ‘thunder box’: your very own private outdoor privy. Trail maps for all Bon Echo trails are available at the Park Office, gatehouse or Greystones Gift and Book Shop. Park naturalists are available to assist with the planning of your adventure. Canoe-in Sites Historically canoes were used as a major source of transportation. Today they are used for recreation and are icons of Canadian history. If camping on a canoe-in site intrigues you then try a day, weekend, or week on Joeperry Lake. All sites are waterfront, canoe accessible, and provide the most privacy. You can pack everything in and use your own canoe or rent one in the Park. Either way you will get an adventure that is purely natural and up-close to nature. It is a wonderful way to spend some quiet time. Don’t forget to bring along a field guide on your favourite outdoor topic and enjoy discovering plants, animals, bugs, or whatever else you find interesting. A Park for the Future We all love Bon Echo. Approximately 180,000 people visit the Park each year causing a great strain on the forests of Bon Echo. The Park is a natural environment park and the first priority is to protect it including Mazinaw Rock and the rare species that inhabit it. With everyone’s help we can ensure the forests, wetlands, and other park features remain healthy for future generations. Keep this in mind while you are enjoying your own adventures at Bon Echo. <http://www.ontarioparks.com>