Today’s post was written by photographer Rob Stimpson, a long-time lover of the wild spaces of Killarney Provincial Park. All photographs below are copyright of robstimpson.com.
Killarney has been a part of my life for years. It was one of the first canoe trips after moving from Montreal to Toronto in the late ’80s. The images I took on those trips (long before I became a professional photographer) may be amateurish in composition and lighting, but they still hold strong memories of a place I have returned to again and again.
If someone asked me “who or what is the biggest influence on your photography?” There are probably too many influences to mention here, but one word that comes to mind is “muse.” The word muse comes from Greek mythology and can be briefly defined as a goddess of artistic inspiration.
That said, Killarney has to be a muse. The influence of this majestic landscape not only on me but on all those who visit it cannot be measured by the power it has.
Artists have been coming here for years. She casts a spell on everyone who visits her: you can’t help but embrace this landscape.
There’s something about cruising down Highway 637 in any season (I can’t explain it) that takes us into a world that opens up so many more worlds. The village, the park, George Island, the lighthouse, Philip Edward Island and Georgian Bay add up to a landscape that can only inspire.
There’s also something else that’s unique here: the white quartzite hills called LaCloche. See them during the day and they will dominate the landscape; See them in the first light of dawn or the fading evening of the day, and they will appear to glow.
Whether you’re in a canoe, hiking, or just sitting, these hills invite you to come and explore. Walk to many of the views and you will be impressed by the views that unfold. The quartzite rock gives way to the blue-green of the lakes below. And in the distance, depending on where you are, Georgian Bay dominates the horizon.
This is not just a summer getaway. A fall canoe trip provides me with inspiration from nature’s color palette that few places in our world can compete with. Oaks and maples release an explosion of color added to the blue of the sky and the green of the pines that unleash endless compositions.
Winter, the least appreciated season, is an opportunity to put on snowshoes or cross-country skis and enter a winter wonderland where few would dare venture.
Many times, friends and I have gone to the countryside for a few days at the end of February, when the lake ice is stable and the days are a little longer. This is a moment when the park reveals its calm side. We seek to capture the magic of the winter landscape, stripped of its summer foliage. The landscape reveals stark graphic images that lend themselves more to a black and white photo essay.
If I had to name one place that is my favorite part of the park, the place that inspires me more than any other landscape in Killarney, it would be Grace and Nellie. The transports on this canoe circuit are long, but the rewards are worth it.
Franklin Carmichael and AY Jackson knew this and revealed it in their paintings. To this day, it has that wild nature feel because of its remoteness. The lakes and hills are unlike any other place in Ontario (you could be in the Cariboo Mountains of central British Columbia or the Yukon), it’s just that different of a place.
The park is one of the jewels of Ontario and also of Canada. It has inspired me (and the thousands of people who have visited it) in many ways. From Silver Peak to Three Narrows and Nellie Lake, Killarney is a muse to many who know it.