A picture-perfect souvenir collection of images from Ontario's oldest and largest provincial park.
"Going into the bush with a guy like Runtz is like going into the National Gallery with a top curator"
-Kelly Egan, The Ottawa Citizen
Award-winning naturalist and nature photographer Michael Runtz has spent decades exploring Algonquin Provincial Park and chronicling its flora and fauna in all seasons. Some of his best work has now been compiled for this stunning pictorial.
Known as "the wolf capital of eastern North America," Algonquin is home to 53 species of mammal, including substantial numbers of moose, white-tailed deer, beaver and black bear, as well as abundant and diverse species of reptiles and amphibians, fish, birds, insects and plants.
As for its landscape, Algonquin is a near-North paradise with some 7,700 square kilometres of forests, lakes and rivers atop the rugged Canadian Shield. This idyllic refuge from urban life features 1,500 lakes and is easily accessible from dozens of major Canadian and U.S. population centers.
With 96 full-page color photographs by an award-winning photographer, Algonquin Souvenir captures every facet of this glorious park.
Michael Runtz is a highly respected Canadian naturalist, nature photographer and natural history author with seven previous books to his credit, including Moose Country, Algonquin Seasons and the acclaimed trilogy, Wild Wings, Wild Things and Wild Flowers. He was host of the Wild by Nature television series and is a popular guest on regional and national television and radio programs. He lives in Seeley's Bay, Ontario.
I was but a few years old when my parents took me to Algonquin to see the famous fall colours and the whitetailed deer that boldly coerced handouts from park visitors along Highway 60. I have no memory of the three-hour drive from our home or of the world-renowned autumnal splendour, but those giant creatures tugging salted crackers from my hand left a lifelong impression.
That is what Algonquin does -- it etches new and permanent memories with each and every trip. These arise from an inexhaustible source: a towering bull moose sways its way across a frost-kissed bog, its antlers glowing orange as they greet the rising sun; a family of otters huffs and snorts indignantly at the intrusion of your cedar-and-canvas canoe as it silently rounds the bend of a winding river; a flaming orange-and-red sea of rolling hardwood hills reveals itself as you step out onto a rocky precipice at the end of a forest-trail climb; in the silence of a snow-drenched spruce forest, under a sky so blue that it looks heavy, a flutter of feathers brings a gentle Gray Jay to your outstretched hand; or while contemplating a star-dappled night sky your thoughts are stolen by the soul-stirring howls of an Algonquin wolf. In all seasons, in all habitats, and at all times of day, Algonquin breathes memories into your psyche.
The Park resides atop a dome of ancient Canadian Shield rock massaged by two billion years of wind, snow, rain and ice, its rugged face punctuated by thousands of sparkling lakes, tranquil ponds, gentle streams, and determined rivers. Located deep in the heart of a vast forest region where hardy northern conifers and southern broad-leaved trees mingle freely, the 3,300 square miles embraced by the Park are home to more than 1,000 species of plants, 275 species of birds, 53 species of mammals, 40 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 78 species of fish, not to mention myriad insects and other life forms.
However, there is much more to Algonquin than the sum of its near-infinite elements. When you meet Algonquin, you sense a great presence, an aura that touches you with its agelessness, its permanence, and with Nature's wisdom.
May the following images arouse in you the sensations of joy, awe and humility that are my true souvenirs of this incomparable park.