national park in Ontario, Canada
North America > Canada > Ontario > Northern Ontario > Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Georgian Bay Islands National Park is a national park composed of 63 islands near Midland in Ontario. Its islands are part of the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, where the windswept white pines and granite shores of the Canadian Shield turn to dense deciduous woodland. It is one of several protected natural areas that form part of the Georgian Bay UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, encompassing the archipelago from Midland to French River.

Understand

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The park covers 13.5 km2 (5.2 sq mi), and was established in 1929.

Cycle wooded trails, overnight at secluded campsites or waterfront cabins and hike to viewpoints atop emerald shoreline.

The landscape of Georgian Bay Islands National Park inspired the Group of Seven, a group of Canadian artists who sought, in the early 20th century, to create a type of art that would reflect the Canadian wilderness. Their art is featured in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and the McMichael Collection in Kleinberg.

It is part of the Georgian Bay Littoral Biosphere Reserve.

History

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Landscape

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Georgian Bay Islands National Park (established 1929) consists of 63 small islands or parts of islands in Georgian Bay, near Port Severn, Ontario. The islands blend the exposed rocks and pines of the Canadian Shield with the hardwood forests found further south.

Flora and fauna

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It is home to mammalian species such as woodland caribou, white-tailed deer, moose, black bear, coyote, wolf packs, lynx, bobcat, porcupine, raccoon, beaver, red and gray fox species, chipmunk, and red squirrel. This park also provides habitat for 33 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the threatened eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Some of the more isolated islands provide nesting areas for colonies of gulls and terns.

Climate

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Visitor information

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Get in

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Georgian Bay Islands National Park is 2 hours north of Toronto near the village of Honey Harbour.

The park can only be reached by boat; there are limited camping facilities on the largest island, Beausoleil Island.

Fees and permits

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Admission, daily (2021):

  • Adult $5.90
  • Senior $5.00
  • Youth and children free
  • Family/group $12.00

Seasonal:

  • Adult: $30.05
  • Senior: $25.04
  • Family/group $60.20

Daytripper (park passenger vessel, includes return trip and park entry):

  • Adult $15.80
  • Senior $13.55
  • Youth $8.55

Parks Canada Passes

The Discovery Pass provides unlimited admission for a full year at over 80 Parks Canada places that charge a daily entrance fee. It provides faster entry and is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Prices for 2024 (taxes included):

  • Family/group (up to 7 people in a vehicle): $151.25
  • Children and youth (0-17): free
  • Adult (18-64): $75.25
  • Senior (65+): $64.50

The Cultural Access Pass: people who have received their Canadian citizenship in the past year can qualify for free entry to some sites.

Get around

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Map of Georgian Bay Islands National Park

The park is accessible by boat only. You can bring your own boat, canoe, or kayak, take the DayTripper shuttle boat, or a water taxi. There are 63 islands and points of land along the coastline that form the park, stretching from 1 McQuade Island in the north, to 2 Centennial Island in the south. Most of the coast and many islands between are not part of the park, and some park islands are not precisely shown on public maps. Obtain a local nautical map before your trip.

  • 1 DayTripper, Park/DayTripper launch point: 2611 Honey Harbour Road, Honey Harbour, toll-free: +1-877-737-3783. Reservations for the DayTripper are required and can be made by calling or online. Pets and recreational equipment (bicycles, canoes, etc.) are not permitted on the DayTripper. A reservation is valid for a specific departure time, and a return trip scheduled about 4 hours later; it is therefore only possible to use the DayTripper service for half-day visits. $24.96 per person, plus $11.50 reservation fee.

On Beausoleil Island, adult-size bicycles are available for rent from the 3 Cedar Springs Campground Visitor Centre. Several points on the southern half of the island are accessible by trails which permit cycling.

 
The waters between Finger Point and Thumb Point near Cedar Springs, Beausoleil Island
  • 1 Beausoleil Island National Historic Site. Artifacts from as far back as the Middle Archaic period, 7,000 years ago, have been found, such as an Otter Creek projectile made from Onondaga chert. The remains of ancient pottery, tools, and hunting implements that have been found on Beausoleil have enabled archaeologists to determine that the island was, in all probability, used as a summer camp by early hunting and gathering cultures. These include primarily a Middle Woodland site occupied by the Point Peninsula and Saugeen groups (2,400-1,300 years ago), and the Algonkian speaking Odawa (or Ottawa) of the Late Woodland Period (600–400 years ago). Descendants of the Chippewas of Lake Huron and Lake Simcoe settled on Beausoleil Island in 1842. The soil on the island proved to be unsuitable for cultivation, so the band moved to the Christian Islands which had been set aside as a reserve in the 1850s.    

The park offers 12 hiking trails, all of which are on Beausoleil Island. The park's hiking trails ranges from short easy strolls of 300 m to more demanding hikes of over 7 km. A couple of trails are accessible to bicycles. The trails take visitors through the scenic beauty of the park and provide opportunities to view park wildlife.

Northern Beausoleil trails showcase the beauty of the Canadian Shield. This area's characteristic bedrock and wetland environment is rich in species diversity and is a major breeding area for amphibians, turtles and snakes.

The trails in Southern Beausoleil pass through a rich mosaic of forest communities. This area's mixed forest is a good representation of the West St. Lawrence Lowlands natural region.

Make sure to have sturdy footwear, drinking water and bug spray to enjoy your hike.

Buy, eat and drink

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There is a gift shop, but you should get provisions for your hike in Honey Harbour or Midland.

During the summer season, Honey Harbour has a café and a fish and chips shop, the Delawana Resort Hotel, and cottages for rent. The Honey Harbour General Store is a full grocery store.

Midland has a wider selection of services and accommodations that are open year-round.

Sleep

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Camping

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Fees (2021):

Group Camping

  • One night, Cedar Spring, per person, with showers: $5.93

Island Camping

  • One night, Cedar Spring - Unserviced with washroom building having toilets and showers: $26.06
  • Primative camping at Thumb Point, The Oakes, Sandpiper Bay, Tonch South, Tonch East, Chimney Bay, or Honeymoon Bay: $16.05

Reservation fee per reservation: $10.02

Backcountry

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Stay safe

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Go next

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This park travel guide to Georgian Bay Islands National Park is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.