The surprising, shocking, startling, astonishing story of Silver Islet

Today’s post comes from Will Oades, Natural Heritage Educator at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Header photo: Jeff Robinson.

Have you ever applied for a job, shown up on the first day of work, and realized it was nothing like you thought it would be? That was the case among many of the men coming to work at the Silver Islet Mine.

Known as the world’s richest silver mine, Silver Islet’s mine shaft was beneath the icy waters of Lake Superior; a small yet significant piece of information that was missed by some of the miners before arriving. Though the majority of the miners stayed to do the job that they were hired for, some of them decided that travelling into the belly of the earth, underneath billions of litres of water was just a little too dangerous for their liking.

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The astronomical origins of the calendar

Most of us live by our calendars to keep our schedules straight.

But did you know the calendar has astronomical origins?

While the constellations were, largely, created to help people remember significant star patterns, they have plenty of other uses. One of these is for the formation of the calendar.

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Squirrels for sale: the incredible history of squirrels at Rondeau

Today’s post is by Jess Matthews, the chief park naturalist at Rondeau Provincial Park.

One hundred years ago, there was a lot we didn’t know about managing parks.

The idea of maintaining ecological integrity is relatively new. Ontario’s first parks were primarily established for recreation and tourism.

During the first half of the 20th century, wildlife was often seen as a tourist attraction or a nuisance. There was little understanding of how animal diseases spread, or how local populations were adapted to the places they lived.

Because park managers didn’t know about any of this, some animals found themselves packed up and shipped off far from their homes.

This is the story of squirrels from Rondeau Provincial Park that, due to their fashionable coats, traveled as far as the White House lawn.

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Explore Ontario’s history on the North of Algonquin Route

Planning a cross-province adventure? Check out the Ontario Parks Driving Routes.

This route will take you to a few of the hidden gems of the Ontario Parks system. You’ll stop in parks containing some of the richest history that Ontario has to offer.

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The beaver: architect of biodiversity

Today, we join Discovery and Marketing Specialist Dave Sproule for a chat about the ecological and cultural significance of the beaver, which became Canada’s official symbol in 1975.

We all know beavers are industrious. They build dams, canals and sturdy homes called lodges, which are warm in winter. They repair all those dams and collect enough food to survive long northern winters.

We know beavers are well-suited to the Canadian environment. Beavers are amphibious — they’re more at home in the water than on land — with webbed hind feet, nostrils that can close, a third see-through eyelid that protects the eye when they’re underwater, and a big flat tail that acts as a rudder while swimming.

However, the biggest reason to celebrate the beaver is that it built Canada, shaping both its historical and ecological landscape.

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Looking up at Mars

Did you know that we can see surface detail on Mars with even a small telescope?

During most of October, Mars rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. It is now (after the sun and moon) the brightest object in the sky and noticeably pinkish!

Mars’ orbit is somewhat elliptical (egg-shaped), meaning that about every two years or so, Mars comes closer to the Earth, becoming both brighter and larger in visual appearance if looking through a telescope.

Some of these close approaches are better than others. This year, on October 6, Mars is closer to us than it will be for the next 15 years, so get out and do some planet-gazing in the autumn air!

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Under the Volcano Trail at Neys Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Grace McGarry and Meghan Drake, Discovery Program staff at Neys and Mark Puumala, Resident Geologist at the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.

Neys Provincial Park is a special place. It has so many qualities that stand out when compared to other parks.

One of these qualities is the park’s Under the Volcano Trail. This stunning trail is entirely along the coast of Lake Superior.

This trail has some interesting features waiting to be discovered. Let’s take a look at what makes this trail special.

To start, the name says it all. This trail takes you along the route of what was once an active volcano where the coast of Lake Superior is now!

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Spirit walks and storytellers

When paddling a river or toasting marshmallows, it can be easy to forget the rich cultural history of Ontario’s provincial parks.

We’ve got all kinds of storytelling going on in our parks this August,  especially in the evenings.

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Forever protected: why Holland Landing Prairie belongs

Our “Forever protected” series shares why each and every park belongs in Ontario Parks. In today’s post, Zone Ecologist Corina Brdar tells us Holland Landing Prairie’s story. 

“The mosquitoes have been exceedingly troublesome these two days past. It is almost impossible to sleep during the night, for they are quite as plentiful and every way as michievous [SIC] as during the day.”

Sounds familiar, huh?

This isn’t a comment from a frustrated camper – it’s a 200 year old journal entry by a Scottish explorer visiting what is now known as Holland Landing Prairie Nature Reserve.

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