Today’s post was contributed by Ryan Rea, Natural Heritage Educator at Algonquin Provincial Park.
Just by looking at a map of Algonquin, you can’t help but be fascinated by the names of the approximately 2,000 lakes.
The First Nations languages, French and English, appear, sometimes in close proximity (as is the case in Maple Lake and Erables Lake).
Names that are descriptive of the lake itself (Square Lake, Spectacle Lake) share the map with the names of people (Tom Thomson, Booth, Dickson).
lake of smoke
Other lake names seem to mark some event (Lost Dog, Found Lake, Lost Coin) or remind us of the park’s flora and fauna (Whiskeyjack, Coralroot, Moose, Yellow Birch).
Some lakes even today remain nameless and remain shrouded in a veil of mystery. But as for the lakes that do have names, these are some of the stories behind them:
Being right next to Wenina (Maiden) Lake, some might imagine that there was some tragic event deep in the Algonquin countryside involving a lovely lady and a nefarious character. But there’s no drama here: Bandit was simply a nickname in the park for an interior ranger who cleared transports and campsites.
Canisbay Lake (and campground!)
Originally known as Cranberry Lake (for the cranberry bog at the south end), this lake was eventually renamed Canisbay Township (where it is located).
coral root lake
The Coralroot is a type of orchid (coral-lorhiza) common on Algonquin. This orchid lacks leaves and chlorophyll, and obtains its energy from the forest floor through a special fungus that lives associated with its coral-shaped roots.
Coralroot – a unique species of orchid common in Algonquin Provincial Park
Found Lake was “discovered” by Mark Robinson, a park ranger who was surprised that a lake so close to the park headquarters did not appear on a map.
Lake found. A beautiful, picturesque lake located just off Highway 60 at mile marker 20
He originally called it Lost Lake. In 1936, the lake was changed to Found Lake.
Lake of lost coins
In the early 1960s, Bob Catton of the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, while studying wildlife in the area, lost a quarter in the lake. This led to local use of the name. In 1965, Lost Coin Lake officially became the name of the lake.
Booth Lake is named after lumber baron John Rudolphus Booth (1827-1925).
Lumber magnate JR Booth inspecting one of his railroads
Booth had timber boundaries over large areas of the Ottawa Valley and built the Ottawa, Armprior and Parry Sound Railway through the southern part of the park. One of his main reservoirs, Booth Farm, was located in the hills southeast of the lake.
Tom Thomson Lake
Tom Thomson: one of the most famous people to spend time in Algonquin
This lake was named in 1958, in honor of one of the first and most recognized artists who was inspired by Algonquin Provincial Park.
The movement to have a lake in Algonquin named after Tom Thomson was started by the Federation of Canadian Artists in 1946.
This lake, formerly known as Black Bear Lake, was nothing special to Tom Thomson.
This lake’s name honors the Ranger family, of which three men (Albert, Peter and Telesphore) were the first rangers. The name is pronounced using the French pronunciation (rawn-zhay).
You read that right: “mouse,” not “moose.”
It is actually a good sized lake, its original name was Moose Lake. The name “Mouse Lake” appeared in the early 20th century, possibly due to a mistake or because there were already so many Moose Lakes that it was causing confusion.