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Canoeing in Killarney: Welcome to Bear Country

James Ryan

“When you are where wild bears live, you learn to pay attention to the rhythm of the land and yourself. Bears not only make the habitat rich, they enrich us just by being.” – Linda Jo Hunter

Despite our late-morning departure from Niagara, my wife Julie and I, finally arrived at the Bell Lake Access Point in beautiful Killarney Provincial Park by around 2 p.m. where we were greeted by long, bumpy roads, blinding sunshine, autumn-coloured trees, and big bold-lettered signs warning us that we were now entering into “Bear Country.”

Over the years, I’ve learned that Killarney is pretty famous for bear activity – at least, that’s what I’ve always been told by friends who’ve visited the park before. For Julie and I, this was our first time visiting the famous park, which is commonly referred to as the “Crown Jewel” of all Ontario Provincial parks. We excited to stay in a place that is as rich with history and beauty as any place known in the this great province. Check one off the bucket list!

We rolled into the parking and quickly made our way to the permit office, excited to finally hit the water. Behind the counter, sitting under the dim lighting of barely adequate solar-powered energy, was a friendly chap who upon hearing that I too had two first-name-last-names, introduced himself as John Wayne. Next to the John was a board that listed all current bear activity in the park. Lucky us, the bears seemed to be concentrated in the exact areas that we had reserved – Balsam and David Lakes.

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Day One in Killarney, @thrujuleseyes and I stayed on Balsam Lake (site 116) thru the Bell Lake Access. Our camp was darn near the most perfect site that I’ve ever stayed on. Perfect views of both the sunset and the sunrise. On this particular evening, the sunset wasn’t overly spectacular, but Day Two more than made up for it.

James Ryan
James Ryan

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