The City     The Searchers     The Great Escape     Being There
Being There : Introduction
Once arriving at their wilderness destination, travelers engaged in a variety of activities. In Algonquin Park, vacationers could enjoy scenery and fresh air with all of the comforts of home while staying at a sophisticated resort such as the Highland Inn or they could have the more rugged and rustic experience of "camping out" in a tent.

The city traveler, be it young camper or adult vacationer, would also learn, upon arrival, that Algonquin Park was a more permanent home to a small number of people, such as park rangers and guides. These “park people” and the shorter–term vacationer found that the Park offered something appealing. Inspiration, independence, seasonal employment, a basic income, or simply peace and quiet and a good fishing hole – Algonquin Park offered all of the above to the increasing numbers of Canadians that discovered it during the twentieth century.


Guides and Rangers
1
While Algonquin Park became a favourite vacation spot for many, it also became home to some people, for at least part of the year. Some worked as guides or rangers, which meant that visitors to the Park frequently encountered these more permanent residents with good local knowledge and connections. Algonquin Park, which was promoted as a top fishing location, remained largely uncharted in the early 1900s, so guides and rangers, both native and others, were an integral part of the Park, assisting nearly every visitor in some way.
Guides hold 2.4 kg (5 1/4 lb.) and 1.8 kg (4 lb.) trout at Bird Lake, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006886)
Fishermen with lake trout, Burnt Lake, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006887)
2
Ralph Bice (1900-1997), from Kearney, Ontario, was an early guide in Algonquin Park. In 1917, he began working as a fishing guide for the Highland Inn; he later started his own guiding business. In 1918, he was one of the guides chosen to take the Governor General, the Duke of Devonshire, into Algonquin Park.

Ralph was also a trapper, and a founding member of the Ontario Trappers Association. He was a conservationist and is remembered as an outdoorsman who deeply respected nature. In 1985, Ralph was awarded the Order of Canada for his community and conservationist efforts.

For more information on Ralph Bice, visit http://www.friends-of-fur.org/Tribute2RB.htm.
Ralph Bice in his “natural habitat”
(Friends of Fur: www.friends-of-fur.org)
3
"Years ago when the greatest attraction the Park had for visitors was fishing, it was easily understood that a great many guides were needed. Not so many people knew much about canoeing, especially in the woods and besides, they were hardly qualified to make trips into unknown wilderness. So there were guides. In fact, they were almost as necessary as the canoes they paddled and carried. . . . These men were able woodsmen, who needed to know how to set up a camp, prepare meals, find the better fishing, and most of all to be able to get along with people."

Ralph Bice (actor's representation)
From Along the Trail in Algonquin Park with Ralph Bice Cardinal Pub Group, 2001.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Ralph Bice in his “natural habitat” (Photo Detail)
(Friends of Fur: www.friends-of-fur.org)
Extrait vidéo (dans la version flash)
Ranger Steven Waters reflecting on his days in Algonquin Park in a diary excerpt from 1893.
Film excerpt: Algonquin Stories, 1994
(Northwest Passage Films, directed and produced by Conrad Beaubien)
Campsite at Aura Lee Lake, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006888)
Balsam bough beds, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006889)
4
Esther Keyser (1915-2005) was the first female guide in Algonquin Park, and an alumnus of Northway Lodge, Fannie Case’s camp for girls. She began her own guiding business in the 1930s, taking women, and later co-ed groups, into the Park. She remained intimately associated with Algonquin Park throughout her life.
Camp, Petawawa River, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006890)
5
"One of the practices that I adopted was the use of the kitchen tarp. A canvas tarp, with good grommets for multiple tie-downs, in about a 4-by-5 metre size added some weight to our gear, but made it possible to comfortably weather Algonquin’s rainstorms. . . . This kitchen tarp arrangement had a number of advantages. It provided shelter for several sleepers and was a welcome area for conversation as the cooks were preparing a meal."

Esther Keyser (actor's representation)
Paddling My Own Canoe, Whitney, Ontario: The Friends of Algonquin Park, 2003. p. 75.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Camp, Petawawa River, Algonquin Park [n.d.] (Photo Detail)
(CSTM/CN006890)
Bear, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006891)
6
"The life of a ranger was very demanding. Rangers were responsible for huge areas of the Park. During the summer and fall, they were maintaining cabins, clearing trails, patrolling for fires, checking for fishing and guiding permits, assisting campers in need, and monitoring dams and logging operations. In the winter, they were chasing off trappers and poachers, hunting wolves (thought to be a nuisance at that time) and hauling provisions over the snow. These men were tough, extremely resourceful and self-sufficient. They were also kind and helpful."

Esther Keyser (actor's Representation)
Paddling My Own Canoe, Whitney, Ontario: The Friends of Algonquin Park, 2003. p. 64.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Esther Keyser on the steps of Northway Lodge (Photo Detail)
(Friends of Algonquin Park)
Ranger Boyle fishing in Petawawa River, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006892)
7
The famous Canadian artist Tom Thomson took a job as a fire ranger in Algonquin Park in 1916, working out of Achray, a park station at Grand Lake.
In 1917, he became a licensed guide in the Park, but sadly drowned in Canoe Lake that same summer.
View of Cache Lake from arcajur Skymount (a fire ranger tower) [n.d.]
Today, hikers can enjoy the very same view by following the Track & Tower Trail along the Highway 60 corridor
(CSTM/CN006893)
Cedar Lake camp, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006894)
8
"There is a chapter in the Bible, the 23rd Psalm, which is possibly the most memorized chapter in the Bible. Most likely because it is one of the shortest but it mentions in that chapter, “He leadeth me beside the still water. . . .” Now if anyone has had the opportunity to sit down beside the still water, especially if your mind is troubled a little bit, just go down beside a quiet river or lake and you would understand why the ancients mentioned in their writings that it was something special to sit beside the still water. Then the Psalm says “He restoreth my soul. . . ”, and that again fits in because after you sit beside the still water and listen to nature, you find that a lot of the things that you are worrying about weren’t so bad after all."

Ralph Bice (actor's representation)
from Along the Trail in Algonquin Park with Ralph Bice.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Ralph Bice in his “natural habitat” (Photo Detail)
(Friends of Fur: www.friends-of-fur.org)
Scenic Grand Lake, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006895)
Outdoorsmen
1
Many vacationers to Algonquin Park came in search of the perfect fishing hole. This was true of wilderness locations all across Canada, and was spurred on by advertising that touted the Canadian wilderness as the place "Where the fish are hungry for the fly."

Magazines geared toward outdoorsmen and women, like Rod and Gun in Canada and Illustrated Canadian Forest and Outdoors, spread ideas about conservation and forestry while posting editorials about the virtues of camping out and tales of fishing and hunting adventures. These magazines also attest to the consumer market for outdoor life and products among urban men and women.
“In Algonquin National Park of Ontario”
Rod and Gun in Canada, August 1913
(Library and Archives Canada, e007151957)
2
“There is no better way of putting in a vacation than passing it in the woods. Health and strength go hand in hand beneath the trees. What could be jollier than to lie at night before a roaring fire of hardwood, the pure breath of heaven fanning one’s cheek, and the stars twinkling in the dark vault overhead. . . . An open air life will build up a constitution, and a few weeks under canvas in summer is an admirable sequel to a winter’s grind at one’s profession or business."

C.A.S. (actor's representation)
Rod and Gun in Canada, August 1901.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
C.A.S.
(Rod and Gun in Canada, August 1901)
“Sunset in Algonquin Park, Ontario”
Rod and Gun in Canada, January 1926 (Library and Archives Canada, accession number e007151956)
The Illustrated Canadian Forest and Outdoors, August 1932(Library and Archives Canada, accession number e007151958)
The Illustrated Canadian Forest and Outdoors, September 1934 (Library and Archives Canada, accession number e007151955)
Fishermen with lake trout, Burnt Lake, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006896)
Fish catches, Pickerel River Resort, Pickerel River, Ontario [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006897)
3
"To my mind there is only one real camping country, and that is the great wilderness of the North. Wherever I go I carry in my valise a big map of Canada, and when my mind is disturbed I spread out the map of that earthly paradise and my heart flies away, like a wild duck in the spring, leaving every trouble behind . . . Surely the God of all the earth never made any other country like you. After one has seen Canada, it’s like having kissed the prettiest girl you ever saw. She spoils everybody else for you."

W. Gaulke (actor's representation)Rod and Gun in Canada, October 1899.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
W. Gaulke
(Rod and Gun in Canada, October 1899)
Extrait vidéo (dans la version flash)
Algonquin Park’s many lakes make for great fishing.
Film excerpt: Seeing Canada: Where It Is Always Vacation Time, 1920
(Library and Archives Canada, V1 9906-0036)
Canoeing and fishing, Algonquin Park, 1947
(CSTM/CN000828)
Old lumber depot at Five Camp Lake, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006900)
Fishing Grand Lake, The “Out-Side-In,” Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006901)
Camp, Petawawa River, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006902)
Fishing party, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006903)
Fishermen comparing trout, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006904)
Fishing Carcajou Creek, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006905)
Man and dog duet, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006906)
Fish catches, Pickerel River Resort, Pickerel River, Ontario [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006898)
From an illustrated personal travel log, Log of the Yam, J. D. Kelly, 1898
(CSTM/Daniel Herald - Rice Lake Collection, 1994.0348.4)
From an illustrated personal travel log, 3rd Cruise of the Empress, J. D. Kelly, 1901
(CSTM/Daniel Herald - Rice Lake Collection, 1994.0348.1)
Women's Voices
1
The early years of Algonquin Park were a time when, in many ways, women did not enjoy equal rights with men. The first decades of the twentieth century were important for women’s suffrage, with Canadian women earning the right to vote federally in 1916.

For some women and girls, spending time in the wilderness was a way to assert their autonomy. Although many society women could be found vacationing at resorts like the Highland Inn, many other women enjoyed activities such as camping outdoors, fishing and canoeing. Through outdoor activity, they found personal strength and a sense of achievement that was not easily obtained elsewhere because of the societal expectations and restrictions placed on women during this period.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
“Oh Algonquin I’ll Return”
(Camp Tanamakoon Celebrates 75 Years, 1999, audio cd)
“The ladies become expert anglers,” Highland Inn, Cache Lake, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(Algonquin Park Archives, A02686)
Trout caught by Mrs. J. M. Vincent, Burnt Island Lake, Algonquin Park, 1906
(Algonquin Provincial Park Archives, A02862)
2
"If a man can do this, why, under modified conditions, cannot a woman? Camp life, properly undertaken, is a perfect rest of mind for weary mothers, energetic housekeepers, brain-workers, and fagged-out society women. For a brief time care can be dropped, and the wheels of time turned back. It is not so much bodily rest that women need as a surcease from mental worry."

Ella Walton (actor's representation)
Rod and Gun in Canada, September 1899.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Esther (in stern) with her friend Woodie at McIntosh Lake in 1934 (Photo Detail) (Friends of Algonquin Park)
Female canoeist on the Petawawa River, c. 1895
(Algonquin Park Archives, A02861)
3
"Primitive instincts are the same in a woman as in a man, and the woman who will best enjoy life is she who follows most closely in the footsteps of her gentlemen friends and relatives. The woman who does this will forget to be nervous and hysterical, and gain a self-reliance and courage that years of traveling and mixing with the world cannot give".

Ella Walton (actor's representation)
from Rod and Gun in Canada, September 1899.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
The Highland Inn also operated as a winter resort Advertisement from Maclean's magazine, 23 Dec. 1924 (Photo Detail) (CSTM/De Bondt Collection)
Extrait vidéo (dans la version flash)
Esther Keyser speaks about her days working as a camp counsellor for Northway Lodge and as a guide in Algonquin Park.
Film excerpt: Algonquin Stories, 1994
(Northwest Passage Films, directed and produced by Conrad Beaubien)
Esther (in front) and her friend Irish cooking over a camfire
(The Friends of Algonquin Park)
Esther (in stern) with her friend Woodie at McIntosh Lake in 1934
(The Friends of Algonquin Park)
4
"First, I wanted to live in utmost simplicity of shelter, dress, food, entertainment, recreation and human relations. . . . I felt the accumulation of wealth and material goods made it difficult to appreciate people from all walks of life. It also made it more difficult to enjoy nature and live in harmony with her many creations.

Second, I wanted to define my responsibility to society in relation to what I expected from society and in relation to the contributions I wanted to make to society. I had the evolving belief that I did have a responsibility to others. . . . But, I also had the sometimes contradictory belief that such service to society, although important, didn’t satisfy my need for independence. I was resentful that society’s values often conflicted with my own. This was manifested most clearly in the marriage vows that called for me to sacrifice my own needs to those of my husband.

Third, I was determined to develop my talents and abilities, both physically and mentally. To achieve this end, I would keep an open mind to change and develop a broad appreciation for the wide range of differences that people exhibit. The Girl Scouts had taught me the importance of diversity, and the enjoyment that comes with understanding different cultures, values, and beliefs. I had always been a self-motivated learner, and I realized what incredible opportunities for growth existed all around me."

Esther Keyser (actor's Representation)
Reflecting on her time as a guide in Algonquin Park, from Paddling My Own Canoe, Whitney, Ontario: The Friends of Algonquin Park, 2003, pp. 96-97.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Esther Keyser on the steps of Northway Lodge (Photo Detail)
(Friends of Algonquin Park)
Girl and deer, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006907)
5
Women’s participation in outdoor recreation, in Algonquin Park and elsewhere, has continued and expanded. Today, women are active in all aspects of wilderness recreation, administration and research.

As was the case for Esther Keyser, whose grandchildren now attend Camp Northway, many of the daughters and granddaughters of early female outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the benefits of wilderness recreation, both in and out of organized camp settings.
Canoeing, Camp Glen Bernard, Lake of Bays, Ontario, c. 1934
(CSTM/CN000810)
Girls on dock at Muskoka Lakes, Ontario [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006911)
Woman fishing, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006909)
Woman on diving board with dog, Ontario [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006910)
Girl camper canoeing on Lake Champlain, Quebec [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006908)
Girls at Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006935)
Woman fishing in Benjamin Lake, New Brunswick, 1930
(CSTM/CN000420)
Highland Inn, The Wilderness Resort
1
During the early years, the Highland Inn was a fashionable destination for many vacationers to Algonquin Park who were in search of a wilderness get-away from urban life but wanted to maintain many of the comforts and social interactions of the city. Algonquin Park was sometimes touted as a natural sanatorium, and brochures for the Highland Inn referred to its location in “The Region of Health and Happiness.”

The Highland Inn was opened by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1908, under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Colson. Canadian National Railways took over its operation after the amalgamation of the Grand Trunk into the Canadian National Railways in 1923. The Highland Inn was closed in 1932, but reopened under private ownership in 1937. The resort was taken over by the Ontario government in 1956, and was finally dismantled in 1957.
Extrait vidéo (dans la version flash)
The Highland Inn was known as the social centre of Algonquin Park, attracting hundreds of visitors each year.
Film excerpt: Seeing Canada: Where It Is Always Vacation Time, 1920
(Library and Archives Canada, V1 9906-0036)
Ladies on the verandah of the Highland Inn, c. 1906-1913
(Algonquin Park Archives, a02853)
”Highland Inn advertisement [n.d.] (Algonquin Park Archives)
CNR brochure, “The Region of Health and Happiness: Algonquin Park,” 1921
(Algonquin Park Archives)
Highland Inn brochure, 1924
(Algonquin Park Archives)
Dining room, Highland Inn, from a Highland Inn brochure, 1924
(Algonquin Park Archives)
Sitting room, Highland Inn, from a Highland Inn brochure, 1924
(Algonquin Park Archives)
2
"Highland Inn forms a perfect headquarters for the angler or explorer. Many delightful trips will bring the picnickers back to the hotel in time for the evening’s amusement. Among the fishing-grounds within a day’s reach are Owl, Cranberry, Smoke, Pollys, Hilliard, Delano, and Head Lakes. Lunches are made up for parties, the order being placed the night before."

Unknown (actor's representation)
From a 1924 brochure, "Algonquin Park Highlands of Ontario"
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
From a 1924 brochure, "Algonquin Park Highlands of Ontario"
The Highland Inn also operated as a winter resort
Advertisement from Maclean's magazine, 23 Dec. 1924 (CSTM/De Bondt Collection)
1.8-kg (4-lb.) trout on Bird Lake, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006912)
Highland Inn, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006913)
3
Beginning in 1921, the Highland Inn hosted an annual regatta on Cache Lake. The annual event was not to be missed, and vacationers from around the Park came to enjoy the party.
Extrait vidéo (dans la version flash)
The Highland Inn was a prime attraction for those interested in the “social end of vacationing.”
Film excerpt: Algonquin Stories, 1994
(Northwest Passage Films, directed and produced by Conrad Beaubien)
Boathouse, Highland Inn, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006914)
Regatta scene, Highland Inn, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006915)
Regatta scene, Highland Inn, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006916)
4
Epilogue
1
Since the formation of Canada’s first national and provincial parks, concerns about the environment, wildlife and the preservation of Canadian green space have continued to grow, as has interest in wilderness recreation. There are now hundreds of provincial parks and 39 national parks throughout Canada.

In Canada, tourism accounted for 1$61.4 billion dollars of revenue in 2005, or 2.01% of the GDP. Parks continue to be a defining aspect of Canadian tourism in all provinces and territories, and attract travelers from around the world.2There were approximately 12.2 million visitors in 2005 to national parks alone.
Boating on Kinney Lake, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006631)
A couple preparing for a canoe ride by the sundeck, Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper National Park, Alberta, ca 1954
(CSTM/CN006209)
Woman resting with horse by Lac Beauvert, Jasper National Park, Alberta, ca 1950
(CSTM/CN006239)
Examining the “Fishing Information,” Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006936)
Feeding the ducks, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006937)
Playing on the beach, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006938)
Stopping for a swim on Clear Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006939)
Man and little girl fishing, Réserve faunique des Laurentides, Quebec [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006097)
Stopping for a rest on a bridge, Réserve faunique des Laurentides, Quebec [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006940)
Sunbathing on Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006941)
Freshwater lake and bath house, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006942)
Fundy National Park, New Brunswick [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006943)
Aerial view of Fundy National Park, New Brunswick [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006944)
Playing in the water with a lobster trap, Prince Edward Island [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN004467)
Watching the sunset, Prince Edward Island [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006946)
Yukon River, Whitehorse, Yukon [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006945)
A member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police standing near Lake Bennett, Lake Bennett, Yukon [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN006806)
2
People continue to be inspired by many of the same ideas and motivations that moved The Searchers during the early history of Algonquin Park, visiting outdoor and wilderness areas for spiritual retreats, artistic inspiration and adventure. Thousands of parents still send their children to summer camps each year and, for many of us, the Canadian landscape has become intimately associated with our national identity.
A quiet moment of meditation at Northern Edge Algonquin Retreat, Algonquin Park (Northern Edge Algonquin)
(Reproduced with permission from Northern Edge Algonquin)
Shamanic journeying at Northern Edge Algonquin Retreat, Algonquin Park (Northern Edge Algonquin)
(Reproduced with permission from Northern Edge Algonquin)
Painting in Algonquin Park at Camp Tanamakoon’s “Images of Algonquin” art program for adults, 2006 (www.tanamakoon.com)
(Reproduced with permission from Camp Tanamakoon)
Painting in Algonquin Park at Camp Tanamakoon’s “Images of Algonquin” art program for adults, 2006. (www.tanamakoon.com)
(Reproduced with permission from Camp Tanamakoon)
Taking photographs in Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(CSTM/CN007051)
A. J. Casson making a rubbing of Tom Thomson’s memorial stone in Algonquin Park [n.d.]
(Reproduced with permission from the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto)
Algonquin Provincial Park, by A.J. Casson, 1954
Oil on canvas, 113.2 x 208.8 cm, main mural
(CSTM Collection, 1987.0003)
3
Located on Lake Opeongo in Algonquin Park, the Harkness Laboratory of Fisheries Research dates back to 1936, when it began as the Ontario Fisheries Research Laboratory at the University of Toronto.

Now operated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, scientists from the Ministry and from many universities conduct research at the lab.
Researchers conducting a small-fish survey at the Harkness Laboratory of Fisheries Research in Algonquin Park (http://www.harkness.ca)
(Reproduced with permission from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)
Implanting tags in bass at the Harkness Laboratory of Fisheries Research in Algonquin Park (http://www.harkness.ca)
(Reproduced with permission from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)
Conducting limnological research (the study of inland waters) at the Harkness Laboratory of Fisheries Research in Algonquin Park (http://www.harkness.ca)
(Reproduced with permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources)
4
Epilogue
Extrait vidéo (dans la version flash)
Esther Keyser speaking on the value of places like Algonquin Park in an increasingly urbanized world.
Film excerpt: Algonquin Stories
(Northwest Passage Films, directed and produced by Conrad Beaubien)