‘Tis The Season For Storm Watching


Ontario Parks on the Great Lakes are for storm watching. November is when the fiercest storms often occur. One of the worst was the Great Storm of 1913. The massive November gale lasted three days, sank 19 ships, stranded 19 more and killed 244 mariners. More recently Hurricane Sandy packed a punch when it hit a cold front over the Great Lakes in October 2012. Lake Huron winds were clocked at 119 kilometres an hour (74 miles per hour) and waves grew to seven metres (23 feet) high. Ontario Parks are known for their storm watching vistas on the Great Lakes. These four parks located on the Great Lakes even have cozy roofed accommodation for stormy nights:

On Lake Huron, MacGregor Point and The Pinery Provincial Parks are popular storm watching places. MacGregor Point’s Old Shore Trail runs seven kilometres (4.3 miles) of shoreline and offers many vistas to choose from but a favourite perch is Sunset Point. The trail also links to Birch Boulevard campground loop. Well treed campsites on the loop protect 16 yurts from stormy weather. Each yurt has heat and electricity and is furnished to accommodate up to six guests. Further south on the Huron shoreline at The Pinery, storm watchers gather on the park’s Cedar Trail extension or at Picnic Area #9 to watch November gales roll in. A deluxe yurt and a camp cabin were recently added to The Pinery’s existing twelve yurts. The new accommodation types have kitchenettes with mini fridges, microwaves, and coffee makers. Heated comfort stations at both parks include washrooms, running water and hot showers.

Big winds and waves attract hundreds of kiteboarders and windsurfers as well as storm watchers to Sandbanks Provincial Park in late fall. Jacques Cottage, one of two roofed accommodations, has a 180 degree view of Lake Ontario. It can sleep six comfortably and comes with a fully equipped kitchen, satellite TV, wood fireplace, and gas barbecue. Bedding and towels are supplied and Sandbanks’ famous beaches are just a short distance away. And so is the park’s other roofed accommodation, a four-bedroom Victorian farmhouse known as the Maple Heritage Rest House. More on kiteboarding and windsurfing at Ontario Parks is in this Park Blog post, http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=6714.

350 ship wrecks lie at the bottom of Lake Superior; many of them victims of November storms. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, an hour east of Thunder Bay, has huge granite cliffs with breathtaking views. One of the best is from Thunder Bay lookout, a steel deck jutting out over a cliff about 100 meters above the water. You can reach it either by hiking or driving up a nine kilometre gravel road. Sleeping Giant’s Middlebrun Bay is another popular viewing spot to experience Lake Superior’s power. The sheltered crescent beach is easy to access near the Marie Louise Campground. Well-equipped, three-bedroom cottages in the park have full bathrooms, kitchens, propane fireplaces, sun porches and outdoor barbecues. Families often book the Ranger Lodge for reunions. It can sleep 30 and has a fully-equipped kitchen. This Park Blog talks about famous shipwrecks on the Great Lake in or near Ontario Parks, http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=6723

To view Ontario Parks’ roofed accommodation choices, visit www.OntarioParks.com/roofedaccommodation.