"In May, a group of four Friends of Wabakimi (FOW) members and a representative of Ontario Nature embarked on an 8 day multi-purpose canoe trip to the D’Alton Block area. FOW believes that the area should have a higher level of protection, not only as an incredible recreational area and paddling route, but also as a significant habitat for birds.
Ontario Nature, a charitable organization that protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement, is a partner of the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas. The goal of the Atlas is to map the distribution and relative abundance of Ontario’s approximately 300 species of breeding birds – from as far south as Middle Island in Lake Erie, to Hudson Bay in the north.
Vern Fish, FOW President, said “Therefore, it was logical for FOW and Ontario Nature to partner together on this trip.”
Kristen Setala, Community Science Assistant with Ontario Nature, shared the list of birds she documented on the trip. There is a total of 58 species.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Winter Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Pileated Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Veery, American Robin, Common Grackle, Purple Finch, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blue Jay,
Common Raven--Confirmed breeding evidence: heard juveniles in a nest with adults nearby.
Tree Swallow- Confirmed breeding evidence: witnessed two swallows copulating in one event and heard nestlings calling from tree cavity where adults were entering;
Bald Eagle- Saw two adults, a probable pair, and an old stick nest; Red-tailed Hawk-Confirmed breeding evidence: witnessed two birds doing a courtship display; Osprey, Common Nighthawk (Special Concern), Ruffed Grouse, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Common Loon Gull species: Probably Herring Gull; Blue-headed Vireo,
Vern Fish concluded, “After this trip, I am even more impressed by this area as a valuable resource that needs to be protected. My goal is to continue to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources, and others, to give the area a higher level of protection.” Thank you to Hank, Dan, Kristen, Vern, and Beth.
To make our FOW map volumes more accessible, we’re now offering them in a downloadable format. Upon payment of $25 CAD ($20 U.S.) per volume, an email is sent with a link that downloads a password protected file. The password will be in the email, and the link is good for seven days. There's also an affordable option download all Five FOW Map Volumes in one document.
Our recent FOW forays into the D’Alton Block demonstrate the challenges of finding and traversing these historical pathways. Often the path remains visible, but the combination of blown down trees, and the growth of alders, smaller trees and under brush make traversing many of these portages very difficult. We note that Volume 5, which covers this area, was the most recently produced volume.
Paddlers using the FOW Map Volumes should be aware of the relative use of these routes. The routes within Wabakimi Provincial Park receive more use with some relatively well traveled routes. The routes in surrounding Crown land forests and conservation reserves are much less traveled; though important as routes in themselves and to provide access to Wabakimi Provincial Park.
We also suggest carrying a good boreal saw and making use of this.
We request Trip Reports and any good information, gps tracks, etc. that can be used to eventually update and improve our canoe route maps.
Long-term we need more organized portage clearing efforts. This requires organization and addressing the liability issue. Our Expedition Committee is the forum this discussion.
The Wabakimi Team will be welcoming 3 new interior rangers this season: Tanice Mackenzie is a local from Thunder Bay who is in her final year of an Honor’s Bachelor of Science in Forest Health and Protection at Lakehead University. She has always loved being in nature and doing outdoor activities. Growing up Tanice first learned to canoe from her father with many trips taking place in Bon Echo Provincial Park. Tanice furthered her outdoor skills from annual summer vacations at Camp Davern for many years where she eventually worked as a camp counsellor. In recent years, she has explored the northwestern wilderness through camping, hiking, and canoeing recreationally and professionally. This is Tanice’s first year working with Ontario Parks and so far, is enjoying meeting all the park staff that help to make Wabakimi a special place. She hopes to gain lots of experience and create unforgettable memories within the Wabakimi Provincial Park.
Sofi Czich has a deep respect and fascination with natural areas and continues to develop a connection by noticing, appreciating and expressing gratitude as well as exploring her relationship with the land. Born and raised in Southern Ontario, Sofi found the shores and waters of Georgian Bay to be her friend, teacher and caregiver. Since then, she has moved to Thunder Bay to study at Lakehead University where she came to know Lake Superior and was fortunate to plan and participate in a trip to Wabakimi Provincial Park during her studies of Outdoor Recreation Parks and Tourism. Since then, Sofi has lived on Vancouver Island, getting to know the temperate rain forest and Salish Sea. It is with great excitement that Sofi has returned to Northern Ontario to join the wonderful Wabakimi team. She is looking forward to getting into the forest just as a moss looks forward to a rainfall after a drought, full of life!
Daniel Devine is originally from Pembroke in the Ottawa Valley and has completed his Honors Bachelor of Science in Forest Health and Protection from Lakehead University. Daniel has a strong love for the outdoors, and this has led him to continue his education in ecological restoration by taking the Restoration of Natural Systems diploma program at the University of Victoria. This program instilled in him a deep appreciation for intact and functioning ecosystems and equipped him with the skills needed to restore damaged and degraded ecosystems. Daniel started working with Ontario Parks while still in high school as a campground maintenance worker in Algonquin Park and has also worked as a Fire Ranger in Wawa while completing his undergraduate degree. Currently he’s looking forward to exploring Wabakimi, learning new wildlife and plant surveying techniques, and progressing as a paddler. He’s grateful to be joining this team with Ontario Parks here in Thunder Bay.
Friday, September 9th. Start the day at Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay. Experience a day in the life of a voyageur, reliving history on the Kaministiquia River. (Entrance fee not included in registration.)
In the afternoon, drive to Armstrong, Ontario, a gateway to Wabakimi Provincial Park; meet at Wabakimi Wilderness EcoLodge for supper (BBQ) and fire pit gathering, Photo/Video Contest viewings and winners.
Sunday, Sept. 11th, Help us chart the future for the Friends of Wabakimi and the Wabakimi Wilderness. Discussion led by President Vern Fish and Board Chair Dave McTeague. Conservation, canoe route restoration, expeditions, advocacy. Where do we go from here?
Make the trek to the area early or stay after to take a canoe trip into Wabakimi or surrounding crown lands! Registration Here
Full Registration fee per person: $175 CAD ($145 U.S.) (Covers food and part of speaker & facility costs. Accommodations are separate. Tent camping is available at the lodge.
Meals included in the registration fee: Friday and Saturday suppers; Saturday and Sunday breakfast and Lunches as well as snacks. Note: We will all share the labour for food serving and tidying the covered outdoor eating area. Please bring your own bowl/cutlery, etc.
The theme of the photo contest is “Wabakimi Wanderings.” The photos should highlight the wildlife, camp life, challenges and/or natural beauty encountered when paddling in Wabakimi Provincial Park or the surrounding Crown lands.
Entrants may submit up to 3 photos and/or 2 videos to the contest to win prizes. Submissions must be be made by AUGUST 1st. See the contest Guidelines and forms here! First, Second and Third place prizes will be awarded separately for both the photo and video contests. First place prize is one volume of the Wabakimi Project Map booklets (5 to choose from), second place prize is a 1 year membership to FOW (can be added onto current membership), and third place prize is a new large FOW canoe sticker.
All winners will have their video/photo featured/posted on FOW website & FOW Facebook page, as will honorable mention entrants.
Don’t miss this chance to share your fantastic photographs and vivid videos with others who enjoy the Wabakimi experience!