The car ride to our favorite destination always seems to take forever. We always look for special landmarks along the way to let us know we are getting closer.
Some of these landmarks are special to you, but others are truly iconic. They let you know that you have “arrived.” For lovers of Algonquin Provincial Park, the birch bark map is that iconic landmark.
As part of Ontario Parks’ 125th anniversary, we are asking Ontarians to help us fund five legacy projects throughout the province.
Algonquin’s legacy project is to renovate and update the park’s iconic sign to provide a warm, family-friendly welcome to visitors for years to come.
The history of the map.
Pulling up to the west gate of Algonquin Provincial Park, you’ll know you’re there the moment you get out of the car. Located next to some trees, you are greeted by an immense roll of birch bark. The scroll tells the story of Algonquin.
The scroll is a must-see for visitors to Algonquin. Have you taken a photo in front of the map? Does your family insist on taking photos there every year?
For thousands of visitors, the giant scroll is the first thing they see of Algonquin, and it has been for decades. In fact, the first version of the scroll was installed shortly after the West Gate opened in 1953.
Over the years, the sign has been updated several times. Some elements of the scroll have changed. For example, the name of the government agency that manages the park changed from the “Department of Lands and Forests” to the current “Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.”
Despite all the changes to the parks since the map’s creation, some things remain the same. The scroll always features a map of the park that highlights key features, helping to orient new and returning visitors.
Why birch bark?
Birch bark grows, as you may have guessed, on birch trees. The white, flexible, papery bark makes it quite unique among Ontario trees.
The bark of paper or white birch trees has been used to make baskets, containers and even canoes. Birch trees are not uncommon in the Algonquin landscape. The presence of a large birch tree alludes to changes that occurred in the forest long ago and tells the history of the area.
The enormous birch scroll at the West Gate does the same. The map tells the story of what you can expect on your visit to Algonquin.
Celebrating 125 years of Algonquin
In 2018, we are excited to update our famous scroll once again!
In honor of the 125th anniversary of Algonquin Provincial Park and Ontario Parks, we are updating the birch bark map and the information it contains.
This is where you have the opportunity to help! To celebrate the 125th anniversary, Ontario Parks is launching an online donation program. The public is invited to contribute to the parks they love by donating to a number of legacy projects.
Perhaps the next time you pass through the West Gate, you can take a look at the new birch bark scroll that your donation helped produce. We hope you decide to donate and share your passion for Algonquin with visitors for years to come.
How to contribute
If you would like to help us restore and update the Algonquin Birch Bark Map, please visit our New donation page.
Make a camping reservation? You will have the option to add a donation to a project of your choice.
You can also check back throughout the year to find out how close we are to funding the project!