Pointe-Pelée (the Bald Point) is the southern most point of mainland Canada. Established in 1918 as Parks Canada's ninth National Park, the "point" comprises only 20 square kilometers yet has one of the largest fresh water marshes remaining on the Great Lakes (2/3 of Pt. Pelee is marsh lands). During the late 1800's, marshes north of the present park boundries were drained for farm land. Drainage canals and ditches along some of the trails within the park indicate the same fate was in store for much of what is now the park.
The southern portion of the point was originally set aside by the British Navy as a military reserve in the 1790s to ensure the stands of tall straight White Pine and oak trees would be preserved for ship building. Surveyor Abraham Iradell reported in 1799 that the point was home to a small number of Indian families who lived in wooden cabins and cultivated corn. During the early 1830s the first Europeans settled on the Naval Reserve. Being "trespassers" they were considered "squatters" by the British Navy. My (4) great grand uncle, Hyacinthe Charles DeLaurier and his wife Florence, were among the first "Pointers" settling on the land in 1834. By the late 1860s, steel and steam diminished the importance of the timber at the point for the Navy and the "Pointers" were pretty much left alone. In 1891 descendants John and Charles DeLaurier purchased the land they had been living on as squatters from the Canadian government for $128.17. Edward DeLaurier, b. 1885, was the last DeLaurier who, in 1965, still lived on the family homestead. After Edward's death, the land was acquired by the Park and the house, built in the late 1830s, was preserved as The DeLaurier House. (N41° 56.900 W082° 31.942)
Until 1972, Parks Canada allowed private ownership of land within the park. Even duck hunting was allowed until 1989. This was a land of recreational use rather than a nature preserve. During the 1950s the Park could accommodate more than 6,000 vehicles. Visitors peaked in 1963 at 781,000. This was over taxing the land and destroying the ecosystem. In 1972, Parks Canada developed a new Master Plan for the Park. This included buying back all privately owned land and allowing the cleared land to reforest. Park policy was changed to "Day Use" and camping was no longer allowed. A summer time transit system was developed to alleviate automobile congestion. Today the land is visibly returning to nature with the exception of a few farm fields around the historic DeLaurier House.
Point Pelee was the first national park in Canada created for its ecological value. The Park is world renowned for its bird and butterfly migrations. It is designated a "Wetland of International Significance" which protects the Carolinian life zone, the most species-rich natural region of Canada. The Park is also an International Monarch Butterfly Reserve, an Important Bird Area and a Dark Sky Preserve. The Visitor Center is located 7 km south of the park entrance. They offer an excellent 12 minute introductory video, nature exhibits and a kids activity area. A small gift store is also located in the visitor center. (N41° 55.903 W082° 30.789)
One of the more interesting features of the Park is the sandspit or sand point at the southern tip of the Park which extends into Lake Erie. (N41° 54.586 W082° 30.544) Point Pelee was carved out by an ice sheet of the Wisconsonian glaciation during the end of the Pleistocene Epoch and the Laurentide ice age. The base of Point Pelee is limestone bedrock with overlying layers of glacial till, silty clays and wind blown sand. Point Pelee is the western most peninsula along the Canadian shore of Lake Erie and it divides the western basin of Lake Erie from the central basin. A sandspit or sand point at the tip of the peninsula forms or erodes by the action of wind, waves, lake currents and water level. Historical records indicate that the sandspit once extended up to 4 kilometers into Lake Erie. During the winter of 2004, Lake Erie failed to freeze and open water, aided by winter storms and waves, completely eroded the sandspit. The sandspit did not reform during 2005 or 2006. In October of 2007, during a two week period, strong winds from the west pushed lake water to the eastern end of Lake Erie, lowering the water level at the point, this, along with wave action, rebuilt the sandspit almost a kilometer into Lake Erie. At the very "tip" of the sandspit, the sand tongue is only centimeters wide. Standing there you can see the base of the tip extending down into the waters of Lake Erie. (Water currents are extremely dangerous along the sandspit, DO NOT go into the water.)
Point Pelee is located in the western extent of the St. Lawrence Lowlands, which includes the Carolinian zone of southern affiliated flora and fauna in Canada. These lowlands are dominated by till plains which were created as a result of the Wisconsonian ice advance and retreat. Carolinian Canada is home to more nationally rare species of flora and fauna than any other region in the country. Several at risk species are found in this zone. Point Pelee National Park (Pelee Point, Pelee Island and Middle Island) reside entirely within this zone.
To claim this cache you need to email me the answers to #1 and #2.
When you submit your log, you must upload a photo for #3.
1. Name at least one at-risk animal in the Park.
2. Describe the two major factors that cause the Carolinian zone habitat.
3. Photograph yourself with your GPS at or on the sandspit and submit this photo along with your log. (Alternate photo) If the weather is bad or you are physically unable to reach the sandspit, I will accept a photo of yourself with your GPS at the DeLaurier House
General Park Information and Rules
Entrance fees: Contact the Park at 1-866-787-3533. This year, 2007, fees were $17.30 Family, $6.90 Adult and $5.90 Senior.
Park Hours: Winter: October 9 to March 10 - 7 am to 7 pm. Summer: From March 11 to October 8 - 6 am to 10 pm. May 1 to May 21 - 5 am to 10 pm.
Visitor Center Hours: Winter: November 5 to March 31, Weekends only from 10 am to 5 pm. April to November 4: Open 7 days a week. Contact the Park for hours.
During the summer season, Canoes and Bikes may be rented, a guided Freighter Canoe Tour is available, meals at the Cattail Café.
The terrain is generally flat and wheel chairs can reach most visitor points of interest.
The DeLaurier House is open from March 11 to October 8. It is closed during the winter.
Be wary of ticks and poison ivy.
Pets are allowed on leash. Pet waste must be collected and properly disposed of.
Bicycles are restricted to the park roads and parking lots and the Centennial Bike and Hike Trail.
Stable flies are biting insects and can ruin your day. They like your ankles. Wear long pants and closed shoes.
Stay on trails and boardwalks. Take only photographs, leave only footprints.
Share the park roads. Watch for wildlife crossing the roads.
WARNING - DO NOT ENTER THE WATER AT THE TIP.
NO WADING OR SWIMMING ALLOWED.
EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CURRENTS.
Picnic areas and restrooms available throughout the Park.
Charcoal only in the barbeque pits. No open fires.
Alcohol is NOT allowed in the Park.
Fishing is allowed in the marsh with a National Parks Fishing Permit. (Available at the entrance kiosk or Marsh Boardwalk canoe rental.)
Congratulations to AJSHunter for "First to Visit"