Our canoe trip to Killarney’s west side: at the intersection of art and nature

We scramble up a hill, through a thick forest, in search of a rock. In a sea of boulders, stones and pebbles of various sizes and forms, the mission may seem strange, not to mention futile. This, however, is no regular rock. Known as Carmichael’s Rock, of Franklin Carmichael fame, this particular chunk of Killarney’s signature quartzite was immortalized in a 1934 photo featuring the Group of Seven artist perched on a rocky cube against a magnificent backdrop of Grace Lake framed by La Cloche Mountains. Even though numerous Group of Seven aficionados have made this trip before us, there is no actual trail leading to it. With no directions, apart from a starting point the host at Widgawa Lodge showed us on the map and some stacked rocks along the way, we stumble along determined to find this piece of Canadian art history. Lots of sweat later, some blood, but luckily no tears, we finally arrive. The rock in front of us definitely looks like the one in the picture. But what’s even more telling is the view that opens up behind it. I can see what Carmichael meant by “a landscape … rich in inspiration … and full of inherent possibilities…”

Carmichael Rock above Grace Lake in Killarney Provincial ParkCarmichael’s Rock overlooking Grace Lake in Killarney Provincial Park Continue reading

Our Canoe Adventures in Killarney: Part I – Off to a great start

As I stand on the corner of Dufferin and Lawrence waiting for a bus, cars whizzing by, people hurrying across the intersection, I find it hard to believe that only a few days ago I was paddling through Killarney’s backcountry. In fact, if it wasn’t for the bruises on my shoulders from schlepping the canoe around, bug bites around my ankles and a slightly darker complexion, I would think I dreamt it all up: Killarney’s signature white cliffs, blue lakes and mournful loons. A beautiful dream, one that keeps me going as I try to elbow my way to the back of 52A bus.

view of Boundary Lake from site 110 in Killarney

Continue reading

Canoe Camping in Killarney Provincial Park

Where do I even find the words to describe the beauty that is Killarney Provincial Park? It is often called the crown jewel of Ontario Park system, and deservedly so. Over 600 square kilometres of iconic wilderness, these striking landscapes of pink granite and white quartzite ridges peppered with jack pines and interspersed with clear, sapphire lakes were an inspiration for the Group of Seven artists. In fact, they were so captivated by its beauty that they persuaded the Ontario government to turn the area into a park. The birthplace of Killarney, formerly known as Trout Lake, is now called O.S.A., which stands for the Ontario Society of Artists, to recognize their role in the creation of Killarney Provincial Park. And that’s where we got to camp this past weekend.

hiker enjoying the view from the Crack at Killarney

Continue reading