Point Pelee National Park

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Point Pelee National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Boardwalk in Pelee.JPG
Boardwalk in April
Map showing the location of Point Pelee National Park
Point Pelee National Park
Location of Point Pelee National Park in Canada
Location Ontario, Canada
Nearest city Leamington, Ontario
Coordinates 41°57′51″N 82°31′4″W / 41.96417°N 82.51778°W / 41.96417; -82.51778Coordinates: 41°57′51″N 82°31′4″W / 41.96417°N 82.51778°W / 41.96417; -82.51778
Area 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi)
Established 1918
Governing body Parks Canada
Designated: 27 May 1987
Pelee Island location

Point Pelee National Park (/ˈpl/; French Parc National de la Pointe-Pelée) is a national park located in Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Canada where it extends into Lake Erie. It consists of a peninsula of land, mainly of marsh and woodland habitats, that tapers to a sharp point as it extends into Lake Erie. Middle Island, also part of Point Pelee National Park, was acquired in 2000 and is located just north of the Canada–United States border in Lake Erie.[1] Point Pelee is the southernmost point of mainland Canada,[1] and is located on a foundation of glacial sand, silt and gravel that bites into Lake Erie. This spit of land is slightly more than seven kilometres long by 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) wide at its northern base. Established in 1918, Point Pelee was the first national park in Canada to be established for conservation.[1] It was designated as a Ramsar site on May 27, 1987.[2]

History[edit]

Indigenous people lived on Point Pelee for many years before European colonization, dating back to at least 6,000 years.[1] The largest archaeological site found at Point Pelee is thought to have been occupied between AD 700 and 900.[3]

In 1790, Deputy Indian Agent Alexander McKee negotiated a treaty with Indigenous communities that ceded a large tract of land to the Crown that included Point Pelee.[4] The Caldwell Chippewa people, who inhabited Point Pelee, were not signatories of that treaty. However, the Crown did not realize this, and their land was ceded nonetheless. Subsequently, they were forced off their land, and Point Pelee remains unceded aboriginal land. This has been publicly acknowledged by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.[5]

Point Pelee was made a national park in 1918 at the urging of birdwatchers and hunters. Commercial fishing continued in the park until 1969. Point Pelee was the only Canadian national park to allow hunting until duck hunting was ended in 1989. This site was named "Pointe-Pelée" (meaning "bald point" by French explorers because the eastern side was rocky and had no trees.[6]

It forms the southernmost point in mainland Canada (its latitudinal position is the same as the northernmost counties of California) and is part of a bird and butterfly migration corridor over Lake Erie via Point Pelee and the Lake Erie islands. Over 360 bird species have been recorded in the park. The peak time for bird migration is spring, especially May, when tired migrants make first landfall after their journey north across the lake. Bird species include Cooper's Hawk, Painted Bunting, and Yellow Choochity Warbler.

Many birdwatchers from North America and abroad visit the park in spring, often staying in the nearby town of Leamington. One attraction, apart from the sheer numbers and variety of bird passing through on migration, is the opportunity to see more northerly breeding species such as Blackpoll Warbler before they move on.

In March 2006, high winds washed away the sand point and all that remained was a platform.[7] In October 2007 the level of lake Erie dropped enough to reveal the point again extending at least half a mile out into the water and at least 25 feet (7.6 m) wide with a winding curve shape to it.[8]

Geography[edit]

Located in the western parts of the St. Lawrence Lowlands, the park is a sandspit formation that extends 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) into Lake Erie and is up to 70 metres (230 ft) thick.[6] With an area of only 1,564 hectares (3,860 acres), it is Canada's smallest national park.[1][9] Most of the park (about 1,113 hectares (2,750 acres) or 70% of the park consists of marsh, dominated by cattails and ponds although forested areas make up a significant portion of the park, covering about 21% of the park.[1][2][9] This sandspit is dominated by till plains which was formed during the last ice age during the advance and retreat of the Wisconsonian ice [2] on a submerged limestone ridge. As the glacier melted and retreated northward, the Lake Erie basin began to fill with water. The movement of sediments altered the coastline, resulting in the present day shape of Point Pelee.[9] Subsequently over the centuries, a thin but rich soil has formed.[6] The marshes began to form about 3,200 years ago, based on carbon dating.[9] This was also the same time when the sands began to deposit, forming the present day barriers.[9] The marsh has a closed drainage system owing to the separation of it by two barriers along the east and west side, which usually prevents the free exchange of water.[2][9] However, when lake levels are higher, the marsh water levels fluctuate with the lake's water levels.[2] The distinctive triangular shape at the southern tip of Point Pelee is caused by the convergence of these two barriers.[9] Middle island, which is located south of the Point Pelee peninsula has an area of approximately 18.5 hectares (46 acres) and is the southernmost point in Canada.[1] Virtually all of Middle Island is forested.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Owing to its southernly location and the moderating effects of Lake Erie, the climate in the park is slightly warmer than the rest of Canada[6] and many Carolinian faunal species, which are rare in Canada are located here.[2] Examples include the fox snake and the five-lined skink.[6] Because of its location at the crossroads of 2 major migration flyways, about 347- 360 different species of migratory birds have been recorded in the park and more than 100 species stay there for breeding.[2][6] This total includes 102 waterfowl and shorebird species.[2] Many Carolinian floral species that are rare in Canada occur within the park boundaries. The park contains more than 750 native plant species,[1] of these 8 species are considered to be rare, endangered or threatened in Canada.[2] Nearby Middle Island is designated provincially as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) due to its unique and rare assemblages of plants and animals.[1] Middle island is home to plants and animals that are characteristic of the Carolinian ecozone of which nine species are at risk.[1] The diversity of vegetation in the marsh is the highest along the edge of the marsh ponds and in the transitional zones between the terrestrial environments and the marsh.[2] Four different vegetation communities dominate in the marsh.

Climate[edit]

Point Pelee has a humid continental climate (Dfa under the Köppen climate classification) with warm, humid summers, and cold winters that is modified by the surrounding waters of Lake Erie.[2] It lies in a zone that is characterized by variable weather due to conflict between polar and tropical air masses.[10] Its position in Lake Erie modifies its climate, resulting in warmer winter and fall temperatures compared to inland regions, as the lake cools more slowly than the surrounding land though during the spring, temperatures remain cooler than inland areas due to the land warming faster than the lake.[10]

Winters are cold with a January average temperature of −3.9 °C (25.0 °F). Owing to its position in Lake Erie, winter temperatures are more warmer than inland locations at a similar latitude due to the release of the heat stored by the lake.[10][11] As a result, temperatures below −20 °C (−4.0 °F) are rare, with only 1.9 days where the temperature reaches or falls below −20 °C (−4.0 °F).[12] The maximum temperature usually stays below freezing on most days although mild spells of weather can occur time to time. The park receives 98.9 centimetres (38.9 in) of snowfall per year and there are 30.6 days with measurable snow.[12] The park is not located in the snowbelt region, and snow cover is intermittent through the winter.

Summers are warm and humid with the warmest month, July, averaging 22.4 °C (72.3 °F), which is among the highest in Ontario.[10] The surrounding lake moderates summertime temperatures, cooling the flow of warm air masses originating from the Gulf of Mexico and as a result, temperatures above 30 °C (86.0 °F) are rare, with only 4–8 days per year in the park.[11][12]

Climate data for Point Pelee National Park
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.0
(55.4)
14.5
(58.1)
22.5
(72.5)
28.5
(83.3)
31.5
(88.7)
33.5
(92.3)
34.0
(93.2)
34.5
(94.1)
31.0
(87.8)
25.5
(77.9)
20.6
(69.1)
18.5
(65.3)
34.5
(94.1)
Average high °C (°F) −0.8
(30.6)
0.3
(32.5)
5.0
(41)
11.6
(52.9)
18.1
(64.6)
23.6
(74.5)
26.8
(80.2)
25.7
(78.3)
21.6
(70.9)
15.0
(59)
8.3
(46.9)
1.9
(35.4)
13.1
(55.6)
Daily mean °C (°F) −3.9
(25)
−3
(27)
1.4
(34.5)
7.4
(45.3)
13.7
(56.7)
19.4
(66.9)
22.4
(72.3)
21.5
(70.7)
17.6
(63.7)
11.4
(52.5)
5.5
(41.9)
−0.7
(30.7)
9.4
(48.9)
Average low °C (°F) −6.9
(19.6)
−6.2
(20.8)
−2.2
(28)
3.1
(37.6)
9.3
(48.7)
15.1
(59.2)
18.0
(64.4)
17.2
(63)
13.6
(56.5)
7.8
(46)
2.6
(36.7)
−3.3
(26.1)
5.7
(42.3)
Record low °C (°F) −27.0
(−16.6)
−24.0
(−11.2)
−18.0
(−0.4)
−9.8
(14.4)
−3.2
(26.2)
3.0
(37.4)
7.0
(44.6)
4.0
(39.2)
−1.7
(28.9)
−5.5
(22.1)
−9.4
(15.1)
−23.0
(−9.4)
−27.0
(−16.6)
Precipitation mm (inches) 57.2
(2.252)
58.7
(2.311)
69.9
(2.752)
75.6
(2.976)
76.9
(3.028)
79.8
(3.142)
83.6
(3.291)
85.9
(3.382)
92.7
(3.65)
69.6
(2.74)
94.8
(3.732)
77.4
(3.047)
922.1
(36.303)
Rainfall mm (inches) 27.9
(1.098)
31.3
(1.232)
51.7
(2.035)
71.7
(2.823)
76.9
(3.028)
79.8
(3.142)
83.6
(3.291)
85.9
(3.382)
92.7
(3.65)
69.6
(2.74)
90.9
(3.579)
56.8
(2.236)
818.8
(32.236)
Snowfall cm (inches) 30.5
(12.01)
27.3
(10.75)
18.4
(7.24)
3.8
(1.5)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.06
(0.024)
3.6
(1.42)
20.0
(7.87)
103.8
(40.87)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 13.4 11.4 12.8 14.7 13.3 11.7 10.9 10.1 11.7 13.5 15.3 15.4 154.4
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 4.7 4.9 9.0 14.0 13.3 11.7 10.9 10.1 11.7 13.5 14.2 8.9 127.1
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 9.2 7.1 4.7 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.15 1.7 7.5 31.6
Source: Environment Canada[12]

Human impact[edit]

Development[edit]

From a regional perspective, the park is isolated from other natural areas because in Essex County, less than 6% of the native forest cover and 3% of the wetlands remain intact.[1] Much of the area (97% of it) has been altered and mostly converted for agriculture, industry or urban development.[1] It is also located close to major urban areas.

Images[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Point Pelee National Park of Canada Management Plan" (PDF). Parks Canada. June 2010. ISBN 9781100157566. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Point Pelee National Park, Ontario - Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands". Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ (1978). Man’s Impact on Point Pelee National Park. Ottawa: National Provincial Parks Association.pp. 44, 53.
  4. ^ “Treaty No. 2.” (1992). Indian Treaties and Surrenders. Saskatoon: Fifth House Publishers.
  5. ^ Leclair, Laurie. "The Caldwell People of Point Pelee and Pelee Island: A Brief History and Survey of Documents". Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. 1988
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Point Pelee National Park". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  7. ^ CBC (March 2006). "High winds leave Point Pelee pointless". CBC News. Retrieved 31 March 2007. 
  8. ^ "Point Returns". Canada.com. 8 October 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2007. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "An Overvie of Environment Canada's Groundwater Research Activities at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario". Parks and Protected Areas Research in Ontario. 1998. pp. 225–238. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Point Pelee National Park of Canada: Weather". Parks Canada. August 2009. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Natural Processes in the Great Lakes". The Great Lakes An Environmental Atlas and Resource Book. U.S Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Point Pelee, Ontario". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 

External links[edit]