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Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Presqu'ile Provincial Park

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Presqu'ile Provincial Park is a park in southeastern Northumberland County
Northumberland County, Ontario
Northumberland County is situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in central Ontario, Canada. It is located east of Durham County , west of Hastings, southeast of Kawartha Lakes and south of Peterborough County. The county seat is Cobourg...

 on the north shore of Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

 near the town of Brighton
Brighton, Ontario
Brighton is a town in Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada, approximately east of Toronto and west of Kingston. It is intersected by both Highway 401 and the former Highway 2. It is on the West end of the Bay of Quinte on the entrance of the Murray Canal....

 in Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. The park occupies an area of 9.37 km² (3.62 sq mi).

The name of the park is the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word for peninsula, or literally "almost island", and was believed to be named by Samuel De Champlain
Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain , "The Father of New France", was a French navigator, cartographer, draughtsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608....

 on his second famous expedition. The park area was formed when a limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 island was connected to the mainland by a sand spit; this kind of formation is referred to as a tombolo
Tombolo
A tombolo, from the Italian tombolo, derived from the Latin tumulus, meaning 'mound,' and sometimes translated as ayre , is a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar. Once attached, the island is then known as a tied island...

.

The park's location on Lake Ontario makes it a perfect stop over for migrating birds along the Michigan Flyway
Flyway
A flyway is a flight path used in bird migration. Flyways generally span over continents and often oceans.-Flyways of the Americas:*Atlantic Flyway*Central Flyway*Mississippi Flyway*Pacific Flyway*Allegheny Front...

. For this reason is it also an important location for viewing migrating birds
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

 and Monarch butterflies
Monarch butterfly
The Monarch butterfly is a milkweed butterfly , in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871 where it is called the Wanderer...

. The park's long beaches make it particularly appealing to migrating shorebirds. Limestone islands near the park area support large nesting colonies of Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
The Double-crested Cormorant is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It occurs along inland waterways as well as in coastal areas, and is widely distributed across North America, from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska down to Florida and Mexico...

s, Caspian
Caspian Tern
The Caspian Tern is a species of tern, with a subcosmopolitan but scattered distribution. Despite its extensive range, it is monotypic of its genus, and has no subspecies accepted either...

 and Common Tern
Common Tern
The Common Tern is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. This bird has a circumpolar distribution, breeding in temperate and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia and east and central North America. It is strongly migratory, wintering in coastal tropical and subtropical regions. It is sometimes...

s, several gull
Gull
Gulls are birds in the family Laridae. They are most closely related to the terns and only distantly related to auks, skimmers, and more distantly to the waders...

 species, Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North and Central America as well as the West Indies and the Galápagos Islands. It is a rare vagrant to Europe, with records from Spain, the Azores and England...

s, Great Egret
Great Egret
The Great Egret , also known as the Great White Egret or Common Egret, White Heron, or Great White Heron, is a large, widely-distributed egret. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, in southern Europe it is rather localized...

s, and Black-crowned Night-herons. In early spring, Presqu'ile Bay is an important staging area for thousands of migrating waterfowl
Waterfowl
Waterfowl are certain wildfowl of the order Anseriformes, especially members of the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese, and swans....

. The park also includes a large marsh
Marsh
In geography, a marsh, or morass, is a type of wetland that is subject to frequent or continuous flood. Typically the water is shallow and features grasses, rushes, reeds, typhas, sedges, other herbaceous plants, and moss....

 which provides nesting habitat for rails, bittern
Bittern
Bitterns are a classification of birds in the heron family, Ardeidae, a family of wading birds. Species named bitterns tend to be the shorter-necked, often more secretive members of this family...

s and other wetland birds. There are also forested areas and open fields: a wide variety of habitats in a relatively small park. There is also a fairly substantial population of White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

. Presqu'ile has been identified as a Canadian Important Bird Area
Important Bird Area
An Important Bird Area is an area recognized as being globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations. Currently there are about 10,000 IBAs worldwide. The program was developed and sites are identified by BirdLife International...

. In all this small park has seven distinct ecosystems.

The park includes a number of campgrounds, the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre, and the Nature Centre. The park's level terrain and excellent roads make it a good location for cycling
Cycling
Cycling, also called bicycling or biking, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or for sport. Persons engaged in cycling are cyclists or bicyclists...

.

History


The park area had been selected in 1797 as the site of a town called Newcastle which was to become the county seat. However, on October 8, 1804, the schooner
Schooner
A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts....

 HMS Speedy
HMS Speedy (schooner)
The battle schooner or gunboat HMS Speedy sank in a blinding snowstorm in Lake Ontario south of Brighton, Ontario and west of Prince Edward County, on 8 October 1804, with the loss of all hands...

, which was bringing officials to a trial at the new courthouse, sank offshore with all on board lost. The ship was never found, nor the bodies of the passengers and crew. The county seat was moved to nearby Amherst (now Cobourg, Ontario
Cobourg, Ontario
Cobourg is a town in the Canadian province of Ontario, located in Southern Ontario 95 km east of Toronto. It is the largest town in Northumberland County. Its nearest neighbour is Port Hope, to the west. It is located along Highway 401 and the former Highway 2...

). In 1840, a lighthouse
Lighthouse
A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire, and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways....

 was completed at Presqu'ile Point. The designer of the 69-foot, octagonal structure was Nichol Hugh Baird. Baird also designed the Murray Canal, parts of the Trent-Severn Waterway
Trent-Severn Waterway
The Trent–Severn Waterway is a Canadian canal system formerly used for industrial and transportation purposes and now for recreational and tourism purposes, connecting Lake Ontario at Trenton to the Georgian Bay portion of Lake Huron at Port Severn...

 and the Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal , also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States and is still in use today, with most of its...

. Today, this lighthouse stands as the second oldest operating lighthouse on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

In 1922, a private commission was given authority to develop a park at Presqu'ile. In the twentieth century, Presqu'ile became very popular for recreation, with two kilometres of sandy beaches, a summer hotel and dance pavilion, an annual regatta race, a nine hole golf course and opportunities for boating. As the decades passed, the type of recreation enjoyed at the park changed which caused the dismantling of the golf course and the closure of the hotel and dance pavilion. Presqu'ile was incorporated into the Ontario Parks
Ontario Parks
Ontario Parks is the branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources that administers the provincial parks in Ontario, Canada. The Ontario Parks system covers over 78,000 square kilometres , about 10 percent of the province's surface area or the equivalent of an area approximately equal to Nova Scotia...

 system in 1954 and has become a popular destination for campers, naturalists, and other users.

Presqu'ile has 397 campsites and two visitor centres. The park is aimed at family recreation, and offers a Natural Heritage Education
Natural Heritage Education
Natural Heritage Education is an educational program offered by Ontario Parks in some provincial parks in Ontario, Canada. It is designed to provide education focusing on the natural and cultural heritage of the park its surrounding area...

program. The park often holds special events such as the Waterfowl Weekend in March, History Weekend in August, Parks Day, and Canada Day celebrations.

External links