Point Pelee National Park is located, not surprisingly, at the tip of Point Pelee, in Ontario; it’s a long peninsula that juts quite abruptly into Lake Erie, near Leamington, Ontario, at the southernmost tip of Canada‘s mainland.
The region is steeped in hundreds of years of history. From the creation of the automobile in early 1900s, the War of 1812, World Wars … and the freedom revolution that eventually abolished slavery in Canada. As a matter of fact, if in the area, you can visit the Underground Railway.
The park’s climate is warmer than most of the rest of Canada, and so it is home to many species typical of southern areas. It has a lush, almost jungle-like forest.
The park boasts an abundance of reptiles and amphibians and several species that are rare in the rest of Canada. Examples are the fox snake, the spotted turtle and Canada’s only lizard, the five-lined skink.
The park is also renowned as Canada’s finest bird watching spot. Over 360 species have been sighted, of which hundreds stay to breed there. A visitor would also see many Monarch butterflies that abounds while on their southward migrations.
French explorers named it Pointe Pelee, meaning “bald point,” because of its lack of vegetation.
In 1918, duck hunters and naturalists lobbied and are the reason it’s become a National Park. Still, the park is precariously vulnerable; it is small, and it’s in a region that is 97% surrounding land that has been severely manipulated for housing and agriculture. It is commonly believed that over ten species of amphibians and reptiles, including flying squirrels, have disappeared from the area in the 20th Century.
The day-use park allows hiking, swimming, bird watching and has a bike trail that runs along the length of the land. All of this results in introducing plant species that displaces native vegetation, and what there is of it, it gets trampled.
The Winsor-Essex-Point Pelee region is a popular tourist destination for both Canadians and visitors from around the world. The Windsor-Essex Tourism site has a beautiful visitor’s guide that’s a must-read. To learn even more, I suggest the government’s Parks Canada site. Another site worth visiting is The Canadian Encyclopedia Online.
- An Interview with Ontario Birder Josh Vandermeulen (prairiebirder.wordpress.com)
- Island Bus (ireport.cnn.com)