Northwest Wilderness Quest - The Parks

Park Profiles

Quetico Provincial Park

Welcome to Quetico Provincial Park, a wilderness area of international acclaim. Anishinaabe people have called Quetico home since long before the creation of the park. It is a spiritual place with sacred sites used for ceremonies and pictographs. These waterways and portages have been travelled by the Anishinaabe for many centuries.

Quetico Provincial Park is a vast wilderness park encompassing 475,782 hectares/1.17 million acres of rugged Canadian Shield with abundant lakes, streams and rivers. Located within a transitional zone between the vast Boreal Forest to the north and the mixed forests of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Region to the south, by nature of its geography, Quetico is rich in both natural and cultural history.

Quetico is adjacent to the Superior National Forest (including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area) and Voyageur National Park in the United States of America as well as La Verendrye Provincial Park in Ontario. Together this represents a massive trans-border area of protected land at the Heart of the North American Continent. This protection is longstanding. In 1909 was set aside as a forest reserve at the same time as the creation of the Superior National Forest on the other side of the international border. In 1913 Quetico was finally established as the third Provincial Park in Ontario. In 1978 Quetico became a wilderness class Provincial Park.

Today due to this longstanding history of protection, this exceptional landscape remains relatively undisturbed. This is a place where the forces of nature function freely. Each year, thousands of people visit Quetico from around the world. Many families share their passion for paddling in Quetico by passing this tradition down through the generations to their children and grandchildren. Known primarily as a wilderness canoeing destination, Quetico provides beautiful and tranquil experiences for paddlers of all ages and abilities.

Consider these local services for assistance in making your Quetico Provincial Park dream a reality.

Canoe resting on the shore Canoe on the river sunrise throuhg the fog and trees

Wabakimi Provincial Park

Located at the end of the road (Highway 527) in Northwestern Ontario lies a vast region of lakes, interconnecting rivers and streams that are the dream of canoeists looking for challenge and solitude. Wabakimi Provincial Park is the second largest provincial park in the Province of Ontario (892,061 hectares/2.2 million acres) and embodies the breadth, diversity and mystery of wilderness.

The roots of the name “Wabakimi” may be found in the Ojibway roots Wabishkaugimi (meaning “whitewater”) or Wabishkkegin (meaning “the sheet is white”). Whitewater heralds the rapids on rivers with historic names such as Ogoki and Pikitigushi. The “sheet is white: may allude to the infinite sparkle of diamonds dancing across lakes. Explore the variety and beauty of Wabakimi’s many lakes and rivers to discover the true meaning of the name Wabakimi.

The park waterways have been travelled for centuries by the Ojibway and most portages in the region have evolved from this historic use. A historic landscape, rich in culture and significance tells some of the Wabakimi story. Evidence suggests that First Nations people have called Wabakimi home for about 7000 years, ranging throughout the area in small family groups, stopping where fish and game were plentiful or the berries ripe.

The park is situated within the Boreal Forest; a broad belt of coniferous forest that stretches between the mostly treeless arctic/subarctic region to the north and the mixed hardwood-coniferous transition forest of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest Region to the south. The waters of glacial Lake Agassiz have uncovered many upland areas, producing expanses of dry lichen rockscapes which support valuable woodland caribou habitat.

Wabakimi is a place like no other. The park is accessible by canoe, float plane or rail service and offers nearly 500 backcountry campsites throughout the park. For those seeking a more comfortable retreat, many lodge and outpost camp operators within the park mix opportunities for quality wilderness accommodations with backcountry experiences.

Consider these local services for assistance in making your Wabakimi Provincial Park dream a reality.

a river with white water rapids aerial view of Wabakimi Provincial Park sunset over water

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

Woodland Caribou is over 486,000 hectares/1.2 million acres in size and the third largest wilderness park in Ontario. Located within the Boreal Forest landscape, wildfire has been, and will continue to be, the major architect of the forests mosaic. Paddlers will pass through every stage of the fire succession; from the black and soot of recent burns to the sudden and colourful abundance of new growth and the return of mature stands of Jack pine and spruce with forest floors carpeted in bright green moss and white lichen.

Known as a cultural landscape, its network of interconnected waterways carve the ancient and weathered Canadian Shield and provides endless route possibilities with short overland carries allowing travelers entry to the solace of the wilds with relative ease. Here is a place where you are more apt to sight a shy elusive woodland caribou, hear wolf pups in a nearby den or watch a moose feeding on aquatic vegetation rather than encounter humankind.

The term “Prairie Boreal” reflects the similarities that the forest of Woodland Caribou share with the dry boreal forest of the adjacent Prairie Provinces rather than the wetter boreal forests found elsewhere in Ontario. Reminders of prairie influences manifest itself in the park’s flora, fauna and climate. The park’s average annual precipitation is the second lowest in Ontario which translates to plenty of sunshine and a very manageable insect population.

Most waterways in the park feed into the headwaters of two large river systems; the Gammon and Bloodvein Rivers. The Bloodvein River is designated as a Canadian Heritage River and possesses outstanding natural and cultural values as well as exceptional recreational opportunities. These historic water trails flow westward from the rugged shield rock of Woodland Caribou, gaining speed as they traverse the adjacent Atikaki Wilderness Park in Manitoba to eventually empty into Lake Winnipeg.

Consider these local services for assistance in making your Woodland Caribou Provincial Park dream a reality.

Canoe resting on the shore beach with caribou tracks sunset sky
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