Quetico Provincial Park

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Quetico Provincial Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Map showing the location of Quetico Provincial Park
Nearest city Atikokan
Coordinates 48°23′47″N 91°32′7″W / 48.39639°N 91.53528°W / 48.39639; -91.53528Coordinates: 48°23′47″N 91°32′7″W / 48.39639°N 91.53528°W / 48.39639; -91.53528
Area 4,760 km2 (1,180,000 acres)
Established 1913 (1909 as Quetico Forest Preserve)[1]
Governing body Ontario Parks

Quetico Provincial Park is a large wilderness park in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, renowned for its excellent canoeing and fishing. This 4,760 km2 (1,180,000-acre) park shares its southern border with Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which is part of the larger Superior National Forest. These large wilderness parks are often collectively referred to as the Boundary Waters or the Quetico-Superior Country.


The park includes over 2000 unofficial, unimproved wilderness campsites spread throughout more than 600 lakes. Canoeists require permit reservations and in-season may only enter the Quetico via six Ranger Stations which serve 21 specific entry points. It is possible to drive to three of these Ranger Stations: Dawson Trail, Atikokan, Lac La Croix. One must portage and paddle to Beaverhouse, and paddle or take a tow from an outfitter to Cache Bay or Prairie Portage. Drive-in camping is available only at the Dawson Trail campground; log cabins are also available to rent.

Most of the southern half of the Park is a region known historically as "Hunter Island" (not a real island).


French River Rapids, field sketch by Paul Kane, 1845.
Canoe pictograph, Agnes Lake

In 1909, an "Order in Council" by the Government of Ontario established the Quetico Forest Reserve. Early the same year, the United States federal government established the adjacent Superior National Forest and Superior Game Refuge, which eventually would become the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.[1] Quetico Provincial Park was created in 1913 through passage of the Provincial Parks Act,[2] although road access wasn't built until 1954.

The creation of the park created a conflict with the Lac La Croix First Nation who had a reserve located within the park. In 1915, the province cancelled the band's right to the reserve and relocated the people on the reserve. The grievances of the band were not addressed until 1991 when the Minister of Natural Resources, Bud Wildman, made an apology in the legislature for the move. Wildman also addressed one of the band's request to allow mechanized boats in the park for the purposes of guiding.[3]

The origin of the park's name is a mystery. Locals say the park is named after the "Quebec Timber Company"; however, no such company existed. The name may also be a version of the French words quête de la côte which means "search for the coast". It may also be from an Ojibwe name for a benevolent spirit who resides in places of great beauty.[4]

The park has been completely protected from logging since 1971. Motor vehicles, including boats, were banned in the Quetico in 1979, with the exception of the Lac La Croix Guides Association, part of the Lac La Croix First Nation, which is allowed to operate power boats with engines no more than 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) on Quetico, Beaverhouse, Wolseley, Tanner, Minn, and McAree Lakes. The official plan (Agreement of Coexistence) is to phase out motorized guiding activities by the Lac La Croix First Nation in Quetico Provincial Park through simple attrition by the year 2015.


Falls near Pickerel Lake

As Quetico is a wilderness park there are restrictions that users must be aware of. Group size may not exceed 9 members. Containers of fuel, insect repellent, medicines, personal toilet articles, and other items that are not food or beverage are the only cans or bottles that may be brought into Quetico. It is an offence to possess non-burnable and non-reusable food or beverage containers.[1] Mechanized devices such as power saws, generators, ice augers, or portage wheels are prohibited. It is furthermore illegal to damage live trees and other plants.

The new fishing regulations came into effect on 1 January 2008. These regulations state that only barbless hooks and artificial bait are permitted in the Park. "This means that no live or dead organic bait can be used in the park, including but not limited to leeches, worms, and salted minnows."[5] Barbed hooks may be in a tackle box but must not be on the fishing line. Barbed hooks must be pinched before being attached to a fishing line.[5] It is encouraged that park users only use lead-free tackle when fishing within the park. This is not a regulation but a recommendation.

Hunting or molesting wildlife or possession of a firearm or fireworks is not allowed.[5]

Geology and drainage[edit]

Agnes Lake

Quetico is near the southern edge of the Canadian Shield, an exposed 1000-mile expanse of ancient Precambrian rock, some of which is among the oldest exposed rock in the world. The park consists of a large number of "young" lakes (only tens of thousands of years old) contained by this ancient bedrock. Due to its proximity to the Laurentian Divide, the park can be considered to be in the headwaters of the Hudson Bay watershed. The southern part of the park is drained by the Basswood River, the central and eastern parts of the park by the Maligne River, and the northern part of the park by the Quetico River. All of these rivers flow into the Namakan River west of the park, which then flows into the Rainy River, Winnipeg River, Nelson River and finally into Hudson Bay. This helps to make it, along with the adjacent Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the most popular canoe area in the world.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Ontario Parks, Quetico, 2009 Information Guide, 2009.
  2. ^ "What are protected areas?". Ontario Parks. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  3. ^ Killan, Gerald (1993). Protected places: a history of Ontario's provincial parks system. Dundurn Press Ltd. p. 381. ISBN 978-1-55002-180-6. 
  4. ^ Boundary Waters @ National Geographic Magazine
  5. ^ a b c Ontario Parks, Quetico Provincial Park Wilderness Guide 2009.

External links[edit]

Related information[edit]