Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park in Ontario. Three historic lodges, all with a reputation for doing it right, offer a place to stay in the park from May to October. I recently had the good fortune to visit all three in late spring.
In June mosquitoes are out, especially in the late afternoons, but the wildlife viewing more than makes up for the bugs. We saw moose, fox, osprey, eagle, blue heron, big snapping turtles and a variety of songbirds.
Killarney Lodge was our base for three nights. The log cabins have a rich patina that I love. They were built in the 1930s on a peninsula jutting out into Lake of Two Rivers. Try for Cabin 24 if you book, it’s a guest favourite. Dinner on our first night in Algonquin was excellent. Based on memory, I chose the ribs, I had them the last time I was at Killarney. They’re still very good.
On our second night we dined at Bartlett Lodge. It’s the oldest of the three lodges dating back to about 1916. Our meal was delightful, from the charcuterie plate to the Quebec duck and the homemade ice-cream. The young chef (who looked all of 22) outdid himself. Bartlett Lodge owners are art-lovers. Awhile back, they purchased Isobel McLaughlin’s former art studio, a square-timbered log cabin. McLaughlin studied art at OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design) under Arthur Lismer, one of the Group of Seven painters who worked in Algonquin Park. The owners dismantled the cabin, moved it to their Cache Lake location and rebuilt it. Two suites now occupy McLaughlin’s former studio along with a beautiful lounge. Other cabins and a platform tent can also be rented.
Arowhon Pines’ dining room is famous and not just because of the food. It’s unique hexagonal design makes it a favourite with diners, many of whom read like a who’s who from Canada and beyond. Little flags at occupied tables give guests’ origins away. I saw the US, Italy, the UK, France, and Brazil represented. Also in the dining room that night… Edward, the Maître D’. He was here the last time I visited. That’s the charm of these historic Algonquin lodges; staff return year after year, so does the clientele.
If you go, you should know…
Algonquin Provincial Park has always attracted famous Canadians. Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, particularly Arthur Lismer, Lawren Harris and A.Y. Jackson painted here. Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau loved to paddle here.
The park is VERY large = 7,653 km² (2,954.8 miles²).
In August and early September, look out for public wolf howls.
Algonquin Art Centre offers plein air art classes. Call to reserve.
This article was first published in Roadstories. Roadstories is a blog about Canada. It’s about the People, Places and Things that make Canada a great country to live, work and travel in. The blog is maintained by Glenn Cameron and Judy Hammond (aka Canada’s Boomergirl), with contributions and guest posts by a handful of fellow Canada-lovers.