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Visiting Frenchman's Bay: the natural lagoon at Pickering, Ontario

Updated on June 18, 2013
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Cormorants on Frenchman's Bay, Pickering
Cormorants on Frenchman's Bay, Pickering | Source
Frenchman's Bay. Pickering, Ontario, in winter
Frenchman's Bay. Pickering, Ontario, in winter | Source
Map location of Pickering, Durham Region
Map location of Pickering, Durham Region | Source

Expanse of inland water, home to varied flora and fauna, with sailing opportunities

Frenchman's Bay is a naturally occurring lagoon at Pickering, Ontario, close to the Lake Ontario shore, from which it is separated by a barrier beach, broken by an artificial channel. The Bay is fed by a number of local creeks: Amberlea, Dunbarton, Pine, and Krosno.

Sailing on the Bay is practised from moorings at both its eastern and western ends. On the Bay's western shore is Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club. On the eastern shore is a marina at Pickering's Nautical Village.

South of the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway - 401 - Highway of Heroes, which intersects the City of Pickering, suburbs are named in relation to Frenchman's Bay and Lake Ontario: East Shore and West Shore.

Interestingly, the northern shore of Frenchman's Bay has a residential development which is entitled Canoe Landing.

The origins of the Bay's name are not wholly certain, but it is known that the first Europeans to travel in the area were French Voyageurs , who played such an important rôle in the early history of the exploration and settlement of what later became successively Upper Canada, Canada West and, after Confederation, Ontario (1).

The City of Pickering monitors flora and fauna in and around Frenchman's Bay, and these include wild celery plants along the shore, 31 species of fish, 24 butterfly and 26 dragonfly species (2). Particular attention is paid to the management of geese.

The main photo, above, shows two cormorants spotted at Frenchman's Bay perches.

At least as much as — and even more than — any locality along Ontario's Lakeshore, Frenchman's Bay thus defines the City of Pickering as a community which is close to water.

January 18, 2013


(1) Interestingly, some of the local Pickering toponyms bear further witness to the past presence of French people; for example, the Rouge River, and what is now known as Petticoat Creek — the word 'Petticoat' being a contraction of the French petite côte , (i.e., little slope).

(2) For further details, see:

Also worth seeing

In Pickering itself, among the many visitor attractions are: the Nautical Village on Pickering's Liverpool Street, close to Frenchman's Bay; Waterfront; the Barrier Beach; the Erskine Chapel, with its Pioneer Memorial Cairn; Rouge Valley; near Frenchman's Bay, Pickering's Nuclear Power Station, managed by Ontario Power Generation, has a visitor centre; and others.

Ajax (distance: approx. 11 kilometres); the recently refurbished Post Hill House represents Rural Gothic Revival architecture.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to Pickering : approx. 47.8 kilometres). GO Train operates a service between Union Station, Toronto and Pickering. Highway 401 gives straightforward access to Pickering. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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