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Camping along the St. Lawrence River
A Gem Along the St. Lawrence River
The Long Sault Parkway in Eastern, Ontario is a favourite destination for camping & day trips for people all across Eastern Ontario, and Quebec. The Parkway (Or Causeway) as it is affectionately called by locals, is a series of 11 islands, connected by 11 kilometres of road & causeways. It is the result of one of the biggest engineering projects ever undertaken by man.
The Past of the Parkway... How It All Began
After the end of the Second World War, spending was at an all time high and North America experienced an economic boom. To keep up with demand, manufacturing plants were running at highs they had never experienced in the past. The demand for hydroelectric energy became so great, that on August 19th, 1954, the Canadian & American governments began cooperatively working to build the St. Lawrence Seaway Power Project. The hydroelectric dams were built across the St. Lawrence River & the boundary between Canada and the United States. On the Canadian side, it is known as the R.H Saunders St. Lawrence Generating Station, and on the American, in upstate New York, the St. Lawrence Franklin Delano Roosevelt Project. The project came to completion in July 1958, with the unveiling of an International Friendship Monument at the Canada-U.S border. Both Richard Nixon and Queen Elizabeth II were in attendance.
In 1955, the government of Ontario opened the St. Lawrence Parks Commission to manage the islands created by the flooding, as well as other historical areas and recreational resources along the St. Lawrence River. And thus, The Long Sault Parkway was born.
The Lost Villages... A Scuba Diver's Dream
As a result of the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Projects, several villages along the shores of the St. Lawrence River had to be relocated to higher grounds, as they were to be overtaken by the waters of the rerouted St. Lawrence River. Approximately 6,500 people had to leave their homes behind. Some of these homes dated back to the 1600 and 1700s. Foundations of some of the houses can still be seen under the water's surface. MacDonell island, located inside the Parkway, provides the perfect swim off point for scuba divers to explore the under water graves of these lost homes.
In 1977, a group of local residents founded The Lost Villages Historical Society. The Society was formed to preserve the artifacts and photographs related to The Lost Villages. They maintain a museum, which includes many artifacts, as well as restored buildings related to The Lost Villages. The Museum is a short drive outside of The Parkway, and is a lovely afternoon trip. Great for history buffs and a wonderful way to see what the land looked like, before you set up camp on it!
The Present of the Long Sault Parkway
The Long Sault Parkway has grown into a beloved summer home away from home for many, including myself.The entire park consists of three main campgrounds, and two day use picnic/beach areas:
- Mille Roches Campground
- Woodlands Campground
- McLarens Campground
There are a total of 596 campsites available spread throughout these three campgrounds. Including campsites with water and electricity, lots for RVs/Campers and sites with nothing but a fire pit and a picnic table for those who like to rough it.
- Mille Roches Beach and Picnic Area (concession stand on the beach, as well as canoe/kayak rentals)
- Woodlands Picnic and Day Use Area (with playgrounds & swings for the kiddies)
Amenities of the campgrounds include, but are not limited to:
Comfort stations (All campgrounds have washrooms, with plumbing and showers)
Several boat launches within the Parkway corridor.
Extended stay campsites (perfect for parking RVs for the summer)
Self guided trails
McLarens campground also has two camper cabins available to rent for those who prefer a little rustic luxury when they're roughing it. Both cabins sleep up to six people and come with many amenities, including beds, a propane barbeque and a lovely view of the St. Lawrence River.
If you happen to find yourself passing through the area, it is completely free to drive through the Parkway. Permits are only required when parking your vehicle to make use of the services provided within the Parkway. I myself drive through the Parkway a few times a week. The wonderful greenery and views of the river make for a wonderful Sunday afternoon drive. Driving through in the Springtime is also great for welcoming the baby Canadian Geese. Not long after the holiday weekend in May you'll start to see tiny little yellow fluff balls learning how to walk and swim. It's quite fun to see them grow from little chicks to big proud Canadian geese. I wish I had a picture. Every time I'm up there I think to myself "This year I've got to remember to get some photos of the baby geese!" ... It's been a few years now... Eventually I'll actually remember to bring my camera.
Update!! Since this hub was originally posted....
I finally remembered my camera! I was lucky enough to stumble upon a little family of Geese hanging out by the boat lunch this Spring. I was able to snap just a few photos before Momma Goose decided it was time to teach her chicks how to swim.
What To Do Outside The Parkway
If you're camping with the kiddies and they're getting a bit restless, or if you're tired of relaxing all day and want some get up and go. There are plenty of great activities all within a stones throw of The Long Sault Parkway. You're not limited to strictly camping. Here's just short summary of some of the other attractions within the area.
For The Birder and/or Hiker:
The Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Established by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission in 1961, The Sanctuary has over 8 kilometres of hiking and walking trails. It covers an area of over 9000 hectares of many natural wildlife habitats. The Sanctuary is home to over 200 different species of birds. They also have an Interpretive Visitors Centre with many displays for the kids, as well as a gift shop. The Sanctuary is approx. a 10-15 minute drive from the Parkway. (Depending on what campground you're staying at)
Extra tip from a local:
Bring a bag of bird seed with you... Any kind will do. I buy the little bags you can get at the dollar store. If you stand really still with some bird seed in your hand, the little Grey Jay birds will come and eat right out of your hand... Great fun for kids and grown ups!
For The History Buff:
Upper Canada Village
A visit to Upper Canada Village is like stepping back into the 1800s.
The village is just that, a village! Set up just as it would have been back in the 19th century. Interpreters, dressed just like back in 1800s, are set up in different buildings throughout the village. They provide a quick history lesson related to the building and/or trade they represent. There are just over 31 buildings within the village, which include a school house, bakery, printing office, dressmaker and blacksmith just to name a few. There are three restaurants within the village, as well as a beautiful gift shop.
Extra tip from a local:
The village provides walking tours, or you can meander about at your own pace.. Whichever one you choose, be sure to get there early. It gets quite busy during the summer. Be sure as well to bring yourself a nice big bottle of cold water and wear comfy shoes. There's lots of walking involved. Oh! And in the gift shop, go for the candy section. Their candy sticks are delicious. I'm partial to the root beer ones, but there's so many yummy flavours to choose from.
For The Fisherman:
Carp Fishing on the St. Lawrence
The St. Lawrence River has one of thee best carp fisheries in all of Canada. The last couple of summers we have spent at the Parkway we've noticed an increase in visitors all the way from the United Kingdom. They save up all year to be able to take their holidays in Canada and come fish for carp at the Long Sault Parkway. They camp and they fish. Carp fishing is a big sport in England, and they know the best place to get big Carp, is at the Parkway in Ontario. The Canadian Carp club is located just outside the East gates of the Parkway.
Extra Tip from a local:
No, I'm not going to tell you how to catch huge Carp. I've never caught one myself, and from my understanding it requires a lot of patience. I will remind you however, that whenever fishing in the St. Lawrence River, or anywhere else in Ontario, be sure to acquire your fishing license. It is illegal to fish in Ontario without one.
Thanks for Stopping By!
As you can see, the Long Sault Parkway truly is a gem along the St. Lawrence River. I invite you to check it out if you're ever in Eastern Ontario! For more information about camping at the Parkway, including park fees and online booking you can visit The St. Lawrence Parks Commission's website.
For more information about the other services mentioned, including Upper Canada Village and the Canadian Carp Club, check out the links below.
I leave you with a little collection of some of my favourite photos from the Long Sault Parkway. Happy Camping!
A Little More Scenery from The Long Sault ParkwayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Located between Cornwall & Morrisburg, Ontario. Exits 770 & 778 on the 401.