Articles

Can they save Algonquin Park?

Ontario's famed Algonquin Park seems made to order for a multi-million-dollar resort. But the province is spending big money to help nature restore the primeval wilderness that Champlain saw three centuries ago

FRED BODSWORTH June 1 1954
Articles

Can they save Algonquin Park?

Ontario's famed Algonquin Park seems made to order for a multi-million-dollar resort. But the province is spending big money to help nature restore the primeval wilderness that Champlain saw three centuries ago

FRED BODSWORTH June 1 1954

Can they save Algonquin Park?

FRED BODSWORTH

Ontario's famed Algonquin Park seems made to order for a multi-million-dollar resort. But the province is spending big money to help nature restore the primeval wilderness that Champlain saw three centuries ago

LAST SUMMER a vacationing businessman walked into the office of George Phillips, superintendent of Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, a wilderness preserve 150 miles north of Toronto, and asked, “What kind of a permit do I need to build a service station and restaurant out here on the highway?”

Phillips, a bluff hearty man with a booming voice, answered, “You couldn’t get a permit to build anything on that highway if you guaranteed to build it out of gold bricks.”

The businessman argued. “But there are forty miles of highway across the park without a gas station or even a lunch counter,” he argued. “It’s crying for development.”

“Yep,” said Phillips, “and it’s going to keep right on crying.”

“Somebody’s crazy!” the man declared and walked out.

“It’s a battle without end,” Phillips said when the visitor was gone. “To preserve a wilderness park you have to fight fires that would burn it up, bugs that would eat it up, lumbermen who would chop it down, poachers who would trap and shoot it clean, fish hogs who would catch every fish, wolves that would catch every deer and businessmen who would turn it into a honky-tonk of dance halls and hot-dog stands.”

Algonquin Park’s 3,000 square miles of lake and forest were set aside in 1893 after a battle with squatters, lumbermen and trappers who claimed it as their own. That battle for its creation is now history but the battle to keep it can never be relaxed. For wherever accessible wilderness areas remain, there are always persons who see them only as wasted resources to be turned into dollars.

This spring the Algonquin Park defense against encroaching civilization and commercialism was strengthened. In the past it has been possible to acquire 21year leases on island or lake-front properties in the park for cottage or commercial tourist-lodge sites simply by applying at the park headquarters and paying a rental of $15 to $30 a year for cottage sites, $25 to $100 for commercial sites. Leaseholders were required to erect a $1,000 cottage or a $3,000 lodge within a year and a half. But this spring the park’s administering agency, Ontario’s Department of Lands and Forests, suspended all leasing of land in Algonquin while the policy toward future development is studied. The suspension is temporary but officials say there is a possibility that no more cottages and lodges will be permitted, and that over a period of years those already there will be gradually removed so that Algonquin can revert to its original state of primeval wilderness.

The reason is that what was originally a trickle of applications for building sites has swelled into a flood. By this spring there were over 500 private cottages and a couple of dozen tourist lodges and camps in the park and it began to appear that the Algonquin that had been envisaged by its creators might become just another resort region of imitation log cabins and fleets of roaring outboards.

Actually though, Algonquin is still largely wilderness for its commercial development has been discreetly controlled. It is tamed by the highway which cuts across its southwest corner, by two railroads which pass through it and by its clusters of cottages and lodges. But along the park’s forty miles of highway which twist convulsively around blue lakes and plunge steeply óver towering granite ridges, there isn’t a service station, a restaurant or roadside cabin to break the dense forest which walls it in. There isn’t a golf course, drive-in theatre or cocktail bar within miles. The only concession the tourist gets is the odd lodge or hotel and even these may now eventually go. Continued on page 71

Continued on page 71

Can They Save Algonquin Park?

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12

Algonquin’s tourist popularity has boomed dramatically during the last few years and shielding it against its two great foes—commercial exploitation and forest fires—has become increasingly difficult. More than 300,000 tourists per year are attracted to Algonquin by its wildlife and its comparatively unspoiled northern landscape. But that’s an attractive market and Frank MacDougall, deputy minister of Lands and Forests, says commercial operators would flood in if the government relaxed its guard.

Algonquin Park sits across the pinnacle of Ontario where, about 150 miles west of Ottawa and north of Toronto, the gnarled granite bedrock of the PreCambrian shield lifts into a tumbling highland of wooded ridges, cliffs and lake basins. About 40 by 70 miles in extent, a maze of mirroring lakes and matted forest, it contrasts strikingly with the other Ontario vacationlands which surround it. Because, except for the now-disputed cottages and lodges, all other trappings of civilization, those amenities which are elsewhere regarded as essential “tourist attractions,” are largely excluded. And the tourist comes not as a little god whose every whim must be catered to, but as a privileged trespasser in a preserve that belongs primarily to the wildlife that inhabits it.

Last fall bears broke into a number of Algonquin Park summ^v cottages seeking food and the owner« demanded that the rangers shoot off the bears to protect their property. A number of bears were shot and the cottagers began to think that their Algonquin Park status was improving; then they learned that the cottage damage had little to do with the bear shooting. The bears were getting too numerous for their own welfare and their population was reduced to make things more comfortable for the bears themselves, not more comfortable for the tourists.

But evidently tourists like this a -rangement which puts them secondary to deer, bear and beaver. Arnold Selwood, ranger in charge of lands administration, reports the number of cottages has doubled in the past four years. Many retired people, mostly Americans, commute between summer homes in Algonquin Park and winter homes in Florida. Thirteen hundred campers were issued permits in 1948 to travel by canoe into the interior of the park; last year the number of Algonquin canoeists was over five thousand.

A park museum established in a large tent in 1946 attracted four thousand visitors that year. In 1953 a new permanent museum was opened, attractively designed of native gneiss and granite stone to fit its wilderness surroundings. In its first summer it had close to fifty thousand visitors.

“We have asked thousands of American tourists to name the place in Ontario with which they have been most impressed,” says C. D. Crowe, deputy minister of the provincial Department of Travel and Publicity, “and Algonquin Park is among the top half dozen. Only Niagara, the Parliament Buildings at Ottawa, Toronto’s Casa Loma castle and the Canadian National Exhibition outrank it as tourist attractions.”

One American, introduced to Toronto writer Marjorie Wilkins Campbell in New York, asked, “Toronto? Where is Toronto from Algonquin Park?” He explained that when he reached Canada

he always had one thought—to reach Algonquin Park by the quickest and shortest route.

This boom in Algonquin’s popularity in the face of its lack of civilized embellishments is providing Canada’s tourist officials with a new and significant lesson—an area of natural beauty doesn’t need dance halls, golf courses, twelve-inch hot dogs and juke boxes to make it a “tourist area.” Judging from the comments which assistant superintendent Aubrey Dunn hears at the park gates, even the fishing is a secondary attraction in Algonquin. Most of

the visitors last year came for nothing more than to see deer and bear and north country unmarred by billboards inviting them to eat at Joe’s.

Algonquin has its own unique allurements, unrivaled in Canada except in the western parks of Banff and Jasper. Deer gambol along the highway and beg for handouts of food at car windows. Occasionally a fat black bear, its brown snout lifted to the wind, ambles briskly across the road. Well back from the road on some of the tourist lodge garbage dumps bears gather in the evenings, sometimes ten at a time, to

scuffle over table scraps. At dusk the darkening surfaces of lakes ripple with the silvery, V-shaped wakes of swimming beaver; and porcupines, still sleepy after snoozing all day, waddle down to the shallows to drink. In fall the odd moose comes out to the highway to stare in bewilderment at a passing car before it tosses its great head in alarm and trots back into the tamarack thickets.

Besides preserving a small piece of the primitive unspoiled Canadian northland, Algonquin has also played a leading role in the comeback of

several forms of wildlife that were once rapidly disappearing. The most notable is the beaver which, when Algonquin was created, had been trapped almost to extinction everywhere. Algonquin had a small nucleus of beaver and they multiplied encouragingly when trapping was stopped. Algonquin became the first proof that beaver populations could revive with protection. After a couple of decades there were enough beaver in Algonquin for biologists to begin live-trapping and releasing them throughout the continent to restock areas where the beaver had totally dis-

appeared. Today in Canada and the U. S. the beaver is reasonably plentiful again.

“It is not too much to claim,” says Dr. C. H. D. Clarke of Ontario’s Department of Lands and Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division, “that in the revival of the beaver, Algonquin Park was the stimulus that kept the whole thing going until it picked up momentum—truly an enormous contribution.”

In its struggle to guard Algonquin against exploitation, the government, previous to the recent discontinuation of all leasing, has had a policy of con-

fining commercial development to two strips—in the vicinity of the highway in the south and the railway in the north. No commercial or private land use of any type has been permitted in the vast interior section where close to 2,500 square miles—five-sixths of the park— have remained permanent wilderness as a wildlife preserve and camping and canoeing area. A limited amount of timber cutting is still permitted in the interior where sections of older forest can be improved by the removal of mature trees. No cutting is permitted close to lake or river shores where it

would mar the natur; ! beauty of the wilderness canoe routes.

“It is unfortunate that any lodges or private cottages were ever allowed to get established in Algonquin Park,” says Campbell Dalglish, cfiairman of the parks committee of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, an association which claims that Canada must preserve more wilderness areas before it is too late. “As a public park it belongs equally to every citizen of the province, but cottages and lodges are special privileges for the few who can afford it. The cottages and lodges destroy much of the park’s natural wilderness character.”

In spite of frequent criticism that the present policy is unfairly protecting the lodge owners already established, the government isn’t budging. In fact it has begun reducing the area that has previously been opened to development. Last winter Minnesing Lodge, one of the oldest in the park, was bought by the government and will be closed. Established thirty years ago before the highway was built, Minnesing is seven miles from the road, deep within the interior area that the government now intends to preserve in its virgin state. It provided an excellent illustration of how commercial establishments, once in, are difficult to remove. The government had tried for several years to get the owner, a U. S. citizen, to sell out voluntarily, but he repeatedly refused. Most lodges have 21-year leases from the Crown but Minnesing was allowed to continue only on an operating permit that required annual renewal, and the owner had several years of warning that the permit would not be renewed more than a few times. •

A Foot In The Door

He was given a lengthy warning so that he could establish his business in another location if he wished. Last year his lease wasn’t renewed. It almost precipitated an international incident. He complained to his senator in Washington, the senator instructed the U. S. Consul in Toronto to argue the case. A provincial government official says, “I thought at times we were bucking the whole U. S. Government.”

Action to close up at least one other interior lodge is now being planned.

“Those interior lakes are too precious to let go,” MacDougall explains. “If you leave one lodge seven miles in, somebody else wants a lodge site eight miles in, and so it goes.”

In recent years another commercial threat has developed that has Algonquin’s administrators worried. It is the threat of flying anglers who can reach by plane in half an hour remote lakes which an average canoe-traveling fisherman can reach only once a year during his two-week vacation. The number of anglers chartering planes and flying into the park is increasing every summer and the angling pressure is becoming greater than the lakes can support.

“An American can come to Huntsville, hire a plane, spend an afternoon fishing deep back in the park, and by night he’s on his way home again with his limit of fish,” MacDougall says. “It is destroying a Canadian resource and the country is getting hardly a cent in return. The lakes can’t stand it because they are cold-water lakes in which fish grow slowly. With the law as it stands, flying anglers can fish a lake out legally in a few years. It may become necessary to disallow ‘take home’ fish and limit catches in the park only to what sportsmen can eat while they are there. We are not going to let aircraft turn the park into a rich man’s paradise.”

The battle against commercial ex-

ploitation of Algonquin Park is a prosaic colorless campaign waged largely across desks in the parliament buildings in Toronto, but the other battle for the park’s preservation—-the battle against fire—is often a hectic and spectacular struggle with all the drama, fury and peril of war. The man responsible for protecting Algonquin Park against forest fire is George Phillips, park superintendent and district forester, one of Canada’s early bush pilots, who has been tossing planes over the forests of northern Ontario longer than most men have been driving cars. A bluff strapping sixty-year-old air veteran of two world wars, Phillips still puts in more hours of bush flying every year than any of Ontario’s forty-odd provincial fire-patrol pilots. His total of 12,000 hours in the air is a record that can be equalled by only a handful of other Canadian pilots. Despite his more than 500 hours in the air on fire patrol every year. Phillips as park superintendent is also responsible for much of the administrative office detail relating to park affairs. But the job he loves is flying.

Phillips has become a legend wherever Canadian fliers get together and talk shop. A fellow pilot last summer said, “Give him a bicycle and an electric fan and I think he would make it fly.” In forest-fire fighting, the ability to land and take off from tiny bush lakes in order to get fire fighters as close as possible to a fire in its early stages often means the difference between a spot fire quickly extinguished and a blaze that spreads for miles before it is controlled. Phillips habitually uses lakes with his float-equipped Beaver that pilots of smaller and slower planes won’t touch, and a government biologist once returning from a flight with Phillips, stepped from the plane, wiped his brow and said, “That fellow can land a plane in a bathtub.”

Though sometimes dubbed the Fearless Fosdick of Canadian bush flying, Phillips is now haunted by the only really serious fear he has ever experienced. It is that the Department of Transport will rule him too old to continue flying and cancel his pilot’s license. To give them no excuse for grounding him, Phillips works like a professional athlete to keep himself in top physical shape. For six months of the year he rises at dawn, has a swim and trots or walks briskly for a mile before breakfast, works from eight to ten a.m. in the office, then spends most of the day in the air patrolling for fires and poachers. Rangers sometimes arrive at headquarters on an autumn morning after an overnight snow and see Phillips’ barefoot tracks in the snow leading down to the Cache Lake dock where he swims.

Algonquin Park, despite its heavy tourist traffic, has few bad forest fires. The main reason, according to officials of the department’s Forest Protection Division, is George Phillips who has become something of an Algonquin Park attraction himself, and he is a key man in today’s battle for the park’s preservation. Behind him, in the long story of Algonquin’s struggles, there has heen a procession of men equally colorful. Lumbermen, moving up the Ottawa Valley, reached Algonquin in the 1830s and for fifty years the present park area rang with axe blows and crashing timber. The lumber gangs ate and slept, and the cooks cooked all under a single roof in a log shanty that became known as the “camboose camp.” Each man had three eating utensils tin plate, tin tea bowl and a knife. He filled his own plate at the fire and sat on his bunk to eat, skilfully using his knife as a spoon, fork and finally a toothpick. He carried his plate of food in one hand, knife in the other, and his steaming tea bowl which

was too hot to touch barehanded he carried under his armpit.

After a winter in the Algonquin bush a man would head for the towns down the Ottawa with a stake of $150, spend about twenty of it on a meal and clothing, then try to spend what remained on whisky. The average Ottawa Valley lumberjack could eke it out over about a week, then he was broke, ugly and sober, and the police would come out of hiding, the courts would run overtime and the lumbermen would cool off in jail-—for what, they rarely knew.

By the Eighties Algonquin’s finest

forest was gone and its rip-roaring days of the camboose camps and the river drives were ending. The lumber gangs left piles of drying slash and bark peel in the forest of younger unmarketable trees that remained behind them, and in a few years lightning fires had completed the destruction that axemen had started. Today in Algonquin Park’s 3,000 square miles there is probably less than 25 square miles of the towering primeval pine left. But the great sores of the lumbering and fire eras have healed and Algonquin is forest again—a second-growth forest now,

largely birch, maple and poplar. Every year Algonquin reverts a little bit closer to what it was originally, for foresters believe that as the present second-growth forest matures and dies, pine will slowly take its place and sometime in the years far ahead tourists now unborn will see majestic stands of pine like Champlain saw when he first came up the Ottawa in search of the Western Sea. Then the dream of Algonquin’s founders, to provide future Canadians with a little patch of the original Canada, will be fulfilled.

The lumber kings were still operating

in the Algonquin area in 1885 when an obscure clerk in Ontario’s Department of Crown Lands, Alexander Kirkwood, conceived the idea of preventing settlement, hunting and future lumbering there and preserving it as a park. Kirkwood, an immigrant from Ireland, wrote a letter to his boss, Commissioner T. B. Pardee, outlining his idea. He argued that wildlife was disappearing because of indiscriminate hunting; that the soil was too thin and rocky for agricultural settlement; that the forest should be preserved to protect the headwaters of the rivers which flowed out into neighboring agricultural areas; and he added apologetically, perhaps wishfully thinking, that someday people traveling for pleasure might enjoy visiting the area to see its forested splendor. It was a time when it seemed that Canada’s forest would never be exhausted, the suggested park area could be reached only after days of rugged canoe travel, the word “tourist” had not become part of our language, and Kirkwood found few who would take his idea seriously.

But he campaigned with dogged persistence. Seven years later a royal commission with Kirkwood the chairman was appointed to study the plan, and the next year, 1893, Algonquin Park was created. No one on the commission except Kirkwood would believe that the day might come when it would attract tourists. But the battle for Algonquin Park had only begun.

A few squatters who had settled on land now within the park boundaries had to be evicted and they left reluctantly. Trappers who had trapped in the area for many years knew its every trail and stream, and looked upon it as their private property. The battle between rangers and poaching trappers went on for years, old rangers like Mark Robinson and Zeflf Nadon traveling hundreds of miles every winter on snowshoes and camping wherever night overtook them, as they sought out the trails and camps of the trappers. One Indian evaded them for years by walking on stilts whenever he crossed a trail or lake ice where his snowshoe tracks might be spotted. Many poachers tried the trick of wearing snowshoes backwards so that rangers would follow the trail in the wrong direction, but the rangers learned to detect the slightly different imprint of a back-to-front snowshoe. One trapper, however, got away with this trick for a couple of years by padding the heel of his moccasin which pressed the toe of a snowshoe worn backwards more deeply into the snow and made the trail look authentic.

Poachers still try to operate occasionally in Algonquin Park but they are usually quickly discovered by Phillips from the air and they no longer have any serious effect on the wildlife population.

Heading the wildlife cast in popularity, so numerous and easy to see that a tourist can drive through the park at fifty miles an hour and not fail to spot a few, are the deer. Government biologists claim they are too numerous and that the weaker ones starve when their winter browse of evergreen twigs gets eaten to a height that is difficult for them to reach. Their heavy browsing is interfering with the proper regenerá-

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tion of young forest trees and they are a hazard on the highway.

But undoubtedly they are Algonquin’s biggest single attraction. Many will feed boldly from a tourist’s hand; they pose nonchalantly for camera fans like trained models and are Canada s most photographed wild animals. One Ohio tourist last summer insisted that a buck with a beautiful spread of velvety antlers was the toughest subject he had ever photographed. He kept dodging it for twenty minutes before be finally got the buck to stay far enough away to get in focus. “Most of the time it was right on top of me. I think he figured the camera was a box of soda crackers.”

Algonquin deer will eat practically anything the tourist offers—candy, fruit, cookies—but they prefer salted crackers and cigarettes, and will ignore the most expensive marshmallows or chocolates as long as there are a few crumbs left in the bottom of a cracker box. The biologists don’t regard the deer’s taste for cigarettes as unusual, for tobacco is a natural dried leaf and the saltpeter in cigarettes probably helps to satisfy their craving for salt.

Though sleek to the average tourist, deer are a scruffy crowd displaying obvious signs of malnutrition to the trained eyes of the park biologists. “They’re out there on the road filling up on candy and soda crackers all summer when they should be storing up fat and vitamins for winter when the browse becomes scarce,” says Dr. C. D. Fowle, Ontario government biologist in charge of research in the park. “And certainly some of them absorb more nicotine than a chain smoker. When hard times come in the winter and all the tourists are home toasting their shins by the fireplace, it is probably the deer that the tourists pampered all summer that die off first.”

Bears Wear Juice Cans

The biologists take a coldly practical view of the problem. If an animal overpopulates its range, nature has to level the population off. But the vacationer who thrills at the sight of a deer eating a chocolate out of his hand might feel remorse instead if he could see the same deer, weakened by malnutrition, become overpowered by wolves the next winter.

If the deer are the lead characters in Algonquin’s wildlife cast, bears are the comics. Algonquin’s bears can blunder their way into more trouble than a litter of puppies. One of Algonquin’s sights is a bear on a garbage dump with its snout caught in a large fruit-juice can; the bear, trying to get free, prances and stumbles around like a New Year’s Eve drunk.

When a truckload of garbage arrives at a tourist-lodge dump, it is often surrounded by six to ten bears before the driver can walk back to unload. Dumping the garbage is a two-man job—one man has to keep throwing cans at the bears to hold them back while the other man unloads. Veteran Algonquin tourists always tip off the newcomers not to miss the garbage-dumping ceremonies.

Even foxes, normally timid and distrustful of man, are beginning to tame under Algonquin Park protection. One aggressive red fox, known as Pete, has outdone the deer in its highway-begging technique. If a car doesn’t stop, Pete occasionally goes barking after it like a dog. But Pete is unpredictable and sometimes disappears for weeks at a time. Only in winter are its habits regular; then it turns up often around the park headquarters on Cache Lake where Mrs. George Phillips has sometimes lured it into her kitchen.

Beaver have become so numerous and tame that they are often a nui-

sanee. A few years ago a beaver dam flooded railway tracks in the park. Every morning the section man broke a hole in the dam to release the water; every night the beavers rebuilt the dam. Since it was a wildlife preserve, he couldn’t kill the beavers, and one night he left two lanterns beside the broken dam to see if the light would frighten the animals away. Next morning the lanterns were missing and the dam repaired as usual. Wearily he broke out the dam again—and found the lanterns. The beavers had buried the lanterns as part of their dam-building materials.

On Smoke Lake, Ranger John Baulke was alarmed to discover that every night someone was stealing large quantities of firewood from his woodpile. It looked as if the ranger was going to put in a cold uncomfortable winter when one night he discovered some of his disappearing firewood being towed down the lake by a beaver. The beaver evidently saw no reason to cut its own wood for winter food as long as Baulke would cut it for him. Baulke had to string a fence of chicken wire around his woodpile.

in August 1952 seventy-five distinguished delegates from all over the world gathered in Algonquin Park for the British Commonwealth Forestry Conference. Officials of the Department of Lands and Forests, hosts for the forestry scientists’ Algonquin stay, decided to provide a distinctly Canadian touch by having Canada’s emblem, a live beaver, on display the final day. A park ranger was delegated to trap the beaver without fail. He was so sure of getting his beaver that he decided not to set the trap until the last night so that the beaver would be kept in captivity no longer than necessary. He was advised to allow at least two nights because the foreign scientists were looking forward to seeing the beaver. The ranger insisted it wasn’t necessary and waited until the last night before setting his live-trap on a dam on Costello Lake. He returned next morning to pick up the beaver. The trap was sprung but instead of a beaver there was a note inside saying, “Attending forestry conference, back tomorrow.” It was signed: “Castor the Beaver.”

The ranger is still trying to learn who taught Algonquin’s beavers to write.

Deer are not the only Algonquin animals that have developed unusual food tastes. Biologists live-trapping marten, a large weasel-like fur bearer, have found the best bait to be a mixture of sardines and jam—the sardines get “high” and attract the animals from some distance, then when the marten approaches the trap the sweetsmelling jam is the clincher that lures it in. Mice, also carefully studied because they form the basic food for all carnivorous animals, prefer a mixture of oatmeal and peanut butter to the traditional cheese. Not all animals take to tobacco like the deer do. F. W. Hutcheson of Huntsville was sitting on the shore of Misty Lake a few years ago and threw a cigar stub in the water. It was grabbed immediately by a large fish. A few seconds later the fish dashed madly along the surface of the water, threw itself onto the beach and died.

Of course the average tourist who doesn’t get far from the highway, if he leaves it at all, sees very little of the wildlife that Algonquin Park actually contains. The canoeist who gets back into the park hinterlands far from the tourist lodges, highway and railroads, sees much more wildlife, notably moose. But even the biologists, whose business it is to know thoroughly what wildlife is there, are sometimes surprised to dis-

cover that an animal is plentiful, though unseen and unknown. The marten, for example, trapped like the beaver to the verge of extinction, was believed, until last summer, to be extremely rare even in Algonquin Park. Then Mr. and Mrs. Jack Dale of Alliston, zoology students at the University of Toronto, commenced studying marten in the park under the supervision of park biologist Rod Standfield. They tried live-trapping, hoping to mark a few with ear tags so that their movements could be recorded. The Dales caught and ear-tagged eleven marten in one square-mile area and subsequent studies lead them to believe that the Algonquin marten population is about a dozen per square mile. Yet rangers living in the bush sometimes go years without seeing a single marten.

Closely allied with Algonquin Park’s wildlife is the attraction of the forest itself. For many with a philosophical twist of mind, Algonquin Park’s booming popularity has an explanation that goes deeply into the nature of Can-

adians. It is expressed by Dr. J. R. Dymond of the University of Toronto, an Algonquin summer resident for twenty years and now executive secretary of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. “To the pioneer, the forest was an enemy that had to be conquered,” Dr. Dymond points out, “a barrier to progress and national development. This pioneer habit of regarding the forest as an enemy until it is pierced by roads and dotted with towns has lingered with us.

“But now I think the sudden growth of Algonquin Park’s tourist traffic is proving that Canada’s view of the forest is changing. We are beginning to see that the forests of Canada molded our history and our character as the sea molded the history and character of Britons. The forest is an integral part of our culture. And now that our finest stands of forest are almost gone, forest parks like Algonquin that still remain relatively uncluttered by civilization’s trappings have acquired a new value that dollars and board feet cannot express. They are living museums that show the face of Canada as it once was; they are acquiring a historical, cultural and recreational value far greater than their timber value. Algonquin is proving that Canadians are beginning to recognize those deeper values, that forest preserved for its own sake in a condition as close as possible to its original wilderness state will be used, appreciated and understood.”

Algonquin, then, may be more than a wildlife preserve, a playground or a park; it is proof that our pioneering era has passed, that we can now view the forest as a cultural asset to be enjoyed, not an enemy that has to be destroyed in the name of progress. ★