Have you ever wondered how your favorite park got its name?
Temagami is a large region containing seven operational parks (five backcountry parks and two camping parks). These are some of the stories of how they came to be named.
Finlayson Point Provincial Park
William Finlayson was Ontario MPP and Minister of Lands and Forests in the 1920s.
The park’s origins began with the Ferguson Highway: a gravel road linking North Bay and southern Ontario with the mining town of Cobalt and the agricultural district of Little Claybelt.
This road was built through a “pine forest” (a pine forest was any large pine forest considered an important resource in the 1800s and early 1900s) around the Marten River and Temagami Provincial Forest.
When the road first opened, there was some concern about travelers starting wildfires in valuable forest areas. This led to the development of “camps” that had sturdy chimneys to keep wayward sparks inside.
Over time, the campground at Lake Temagami became Finlayson Point Provincial Park, named after the Minister.
Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park
This large natural park was named after two of its main bodies of water, Lake Smoothwater and the Lady Evelyn River.
Calm water lake
Lady Evelyn Lake was named by Robert Bell, a surveyor with the Canadian Geological Survey in the 1880s. He named it after Lady Evelyn Campbell, sister of Governor-General Sir John Douglas Campbell, whom Bell met and with whom he may have been in love. …
The Lady Evelyn River flows into Lady Evelyn Lake and was named after extension.
The Anishinaabe have names for the different branches and main stem of the Lady Evelyn River. The main channel is called “Ma-ha-may-gos,” he said. meaning brook troutand ““Zee-beeng” meaning rivereither at the place of the river.
Marten River Provincial Park
The Marten River that runs through the park was the inspiration for the park’s name. The river is named after Pine Marten, who lives in the pine forests of the Temagami region.
Pine martens prefer coniferous forests because their main prey is red squirrels. Red squirrels are heavy consumers of pine seeds, and pine trees have strategies to thwart squirrels’ attempts to find, store, and eat as many seeds as possible.
These strategies include not producing pine cones for some years and then producing a bountiful crop, more than the squirrels can consume.
The pine marten is a friend of the eastern white pine and helps limit the squirrel population.
Consuelo Provincial Park
Solace Provincial Park is named after Solace Lake, one of a chain of lakes within the park that links the Sturgeon River to Lake Florence in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park.
“Consuelo” means comfort in times of distress. Being surrounded by nature is known to reduce stress.
Lake Solace and its neighboring lakes are remote and can only be accessed by transportation from surrounding lakes or by seaplane.
Sturgeon River Provincial Park
The Sturgeon River has its headwaters in the Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Highlands and surrounding landscapes, and flows south 170 km to Lake Nipissing.
Lake sturgeon travel to the river in spring to spawn. Historically, sturgeon were an important food source for the people of the Nipissing Nation after a long winter.
People would get together, reconnect with other families they hadn’t seen in several months, and fish for sturgeon. The river is called “Nah-may Zee-beeng” in Anishinaabe (sturgeon river).
More Northeast Parks
Northern Ontario is vast and has different features and landscapes. These are the stories behind some of the names of other parks in the northeastern part of the province.
Esker Lakes Provincial Park
Named for the longest esker in Ontario (the 250 km Munro Esker), Esker Lakes straddles this glacial feature with hills covered in boreal forest, dotted with spring-fed lakes.
An esker is a long, snake-shaped hill, originally formed by rivers of glacial meltwater. When the glaciers began to melt, rivers of meltwater flowed over and through the ice, and debris (sand, gravel, silt, and rocks originally frozen in the ice) accumulated in these rivers and formed a riverbed. When the glaciers completely melted, all that remained was the river bed, which formed the current eskers.
Halfway Lake Provincial Park
In the early 20th century, there was a logging camp on the shores of Halfway Lake. Each winter, loggers worked with horses to transport logs to the lakes and then take them to the railroad using the streams and rivers during spring floods.
The park campground occupies a flat sandy area at the north end of Halfway Lake with a shallow sandy beach perfect for families with young children; This was where the logging camp was located.
The camp was “halfway” between the main logging area and the railroad where logs were loaded for their trip to the sawmill and, as a result, was named Halfway Lake.
Killarney Provincial Park
Originally called Face it (Anishinabek means “safe passage by canoe”), the town of Killarney lies in the narrow channel between George Island and the mainland.
The village was founded in 1820 as a fur trading post by independent trader Stephen Augustine de Lamorandière and his Anishinaabe wife, Josephite Saisaigonokwe.
A “maritime” village developed, accessible only from Georgian Bay, with commercial fishing, logging, and a few small farms occupying the residents.
The town was connected to the rest of the province by steamships that navigated Georgian Bay, and its strongest local connection was to Manitoulin Island.
Some time after its founding, the La Cloche Mountains and coastal peninsulas reminded someone of the similar landscape of Killarney in Ireland, and the town (and eventually the park) was renamed.
Killarney Provincial Park protects the ridges and valleys of the La Cloche Mountains (an area of exceptional scenic beauty) and the coast and lowlands of Georgian Bay.
Bahía Miseria Provincial Park
The story goes that a 19th century survey team was rowing along the south shore of Manitoulin Island mapping the coast and came across a farmer cutting swamp grass to use as hay for his animals. The surveyors asked the farmer what this bay was called, and in the middle of summer he replied, “Misery.”
Today, Misery Bay Provincial Park is a major nature reserve on Manitoulin’s southwest coast and is anything but miserable. This day-use park has a nature center and 15 km of trails that wind through the forest, cross rare limestone plains called alvar, and past the sandy beaches and rocky shoreline of Misery Bay and Lake Huron.
This park is a paradise for birds (warblers and shorebirds are common residents and migrants) and rare flowering plants like Manitoulin Gold (also known as Lakeside Daisy).
Missinaibi Provincial Park
“Missinaibi” is believed to mean “waters represented” by the reflections of the bedrock and many indigenous pictographs in Fairy Point Lake.
The combination of water and cliffs at Fairy Point makes it a place of spiritual importance to indigenous people, who used the rock as a canvas, painting figures of people and animals and making offerings of sacred tobacco as they passed.
Chutes Provincial Park
Chutes Provincial Park got its name from the large “chute” or log chute that carried logs safely over the main falls of the Aux Sables River.
The Aux Sables River was the heart of the Spanish River Lumber Company’s logging limits in the first half of the 20th century. The company operated in the Spanish River basin from the 1890s to the 1940s, using rivers such as the Aux Sables to convey logs cut in the winter to mills along Georgian Bay.
The main falls are unnamed, but the numerous waterfalls and cascades upstream are known as the Seven Sisters and can be seen from the Twin Bridges trail that follows the river.