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Tom Thomson knew a good thing when he found it

The celebrated artist Tom Thomson and his comtemporaries in The Group of Seven spent a great deal of time in Algonquin Park. The Park was more rugged then, and more quiet I’m sure. But despite the changes over the years, this Park remains as inspiring as ever.

Jack Pine by Tom Thomson (1916), from National Gallery of Canada

Hubby and I have had a long-lasting love affair with this Park. So much so that I wanted to name our son or daughter Quin (short for Algonquin). We’ve spent countless hours alone in the park. On islands adrift in lakes, with no one around but the stars. And we’ve proudly brought visiting family and friends from outside of Canada into the Park as well.

These trips were all before children. I was much hardier then.  Our trips into the Park were more like adventures — tons of canoeing and lots of portaging — where we would seek out spots few others had been to. Now, I use our two children as an excuse for not undertaking this kind of trip … they wouldn’t be able to physically do it, we’d be too far from help if something happened, it’s too complicated with diapers, etc.  But really, it’s me. Somehow motherhood has softened me rather than toughened me up.

But this past weekend I returned to the Park. Hubby is determined to bring me back to my former camping self. With baby steps. Baby steps that include a tent trailer.

So rather than head out into the wilderness, we parked at a tent site with our trailer. Although we are admittedly “camping snobs” who don’t do “car camping,” we’ve resigned to swallow our pride for this portion of our lives with young children. And I think you’ll agree after looking at this photo, that really, it wasn’t that tough to swallow our pride afterall.

The peaceful view from our site.

Algonquin Park is enormous, so it does help to know where you’re going. We had that to our advantage, but now you will too! This is camp site #23 at Achray.

As far as car camping goes, Achray campground does manage to preserve some of our most treasured camping elements: peace, quiet (no radios allowed!), and treed sites that are quite private.  And it’s also the locale where Tom Thomson painted his famous Jack Pine. In fact, you can take a short hike (very easy, kids can handle it no probs) to the exact spot where the pine tree was!

But alas, the pine tree no longer stands there. It died, and then some stupid campers cut it up for fire wood.

The site of the painting Jack Pine.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. We relaxed, we ate, we hiked, we spotted wild life.

Can you spot the wild life?

All was good in the world. (And then it snowed on Tuesday.)


  1. En route to the park you would have passed through my hometown (Barry’s Bay, the place with the HUGE stop sign, and the replica of the Avro Arrow). Since I grew, up so close to the park, we used to go there in the summers to hike and occasionally camp. I love it, too, and look forward to introducing my own children to all the park has to offer.

  2. Wow, that is so beautiful. I have to say, this story is tempting even for me and my life-long hatred of the outdoors. The whole tent-trailer thing seems like a possibility. I’m mulling it over.

  3. Hubby and I used to canoe camp in Algonquin before kids too. We loved it. We tried it two years ago with our girls, then aged 4 and 6, and it was successful, but it was an awful lot of work. I did not feel the old zen that I used to get.
    I am completely sold on the car camping idea for a few years to come. And a cottage is even better!

  4. You rock Jules!

    Glad you had a great time camping. Such a great way to spend time with the family! Keep on updating all of us with your exploits!

  5. It is a beautiful spot. We camped here last summer, but rented the yurt instead. It was heavenly … and it’s a great option for those who want to camp, but don’t like a lot of what comes with camping. :)

  6. The photo’s inspire me to try camping…and a tent trailer makes it even more appealing.

  7. daniel hall says:

    Algonquin Park is an awesome natural resource! I have hiked on some of the trails [one Thanksgiving weekend in the snow!]; attended a number of Social Justice Retreats at Camp Arowhon [a wonderful facility about an hour from Whitney and the East Gate of the park!]; and enjoyed restful long weekends at another Algonquin Park jewel ~ Kiillarny Lodge! I can’t wait to return to the pristine trails, vistas, rivers, lakes, and abundant wildlife the park encompasses.

  8. I have never been to Algonquin Park Julie, but camping there is on my “to do” list. Thanks for letting me share this great post in my Camping Round Up.


  1. […] and remains treed. (You can see photos of a camping site we recently stayed at in Algonquin Park here.) •    Take turns with your spouse to allow for some quiet time. One parent takes the kids for […]

  2. […] Tom Thomson knew a good thing when he found it […]

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