Massasauga Provincial Park

Natural History
By Adrienne Montgomerie
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A pair of Canadian geese
A pair of Canadian geese. (Photograph courtesy of the Refuge Reporter.)

Geological Heritage

Thirty-thousand years ago the Wisconsin glacier swept much of Georgian Bay's land surface clean of soil and vegetation, scouring the underlying rock. When the waters of glacial Lake Algonquin and Lake Nipissing receded (12,000 years ago, and 5,000 years ago, respectively), they exposed the barren, scared landscape visible today. The islands show the effects of glaciation. The naked eye can discern marvelous examples of lava flows, dikes, glacial gouges, and the stacking of crustal plates.

The park's landscape is rugged and low-slung (between 167 and 228 meters above sea level). Even with its narrow reach, this park encompasses the typical landscape and habitats of Georgian Bay. An afternoon's paddle (or ski) transports explorers from rugged inland lakes, to windy, barren islands a diversity that's rare in Ontario's system of parks.What you won't find on Georgian Bay's eastern shore are beaches. Shorelines are formed of smooth rock gently sloping out of the water, rough and steep rock faces, or dense woody undergrowth. Landing spots around Massasauga are alternately abundant or elusive.

The lack of roads, signage, day use areas, beaches, car and group camping sites, and marina development are all part of the park's wilderness feel. In fact, you'll see little more signage than is absolutely necessary to assure permit holding visitors that they're in the right place.

Significant Fauna

Prairie Warbler
Red Shouldered Hawk
Heron rookeries
Common Tern
Red-breasted Mergansers
Yellow-rumped Warblers
Yellow-billed Cuckoos
Northern Rough-winged Swallows

Meadow Jumping Mouse
River Otter
White-tailed Deer
Black Bear

Reptiles and Amphibians
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
Eastern Fox Snake
Eastern Hognosed Snake
Eastern Ribbon Snake
Map Turtle
Five-lined Skink

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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