An exploration of St Lawrence islands is a daunting task: there are thousands of islands located in the region. They were created during the last ice age, over 10,000 years ago, by retreating glaciers. St Lawrence islands remain rugged today - with little soil they have become one of the most common symbols of the Canadian Shield.
The thousands of St Lawrence islands form an integral part of the ecosystem of the larger area. They form a land bridge across the St Lawrence river, which allows many species of animals to move through the area more easily: they can hop from island to island rather than having to cross the St Lawrence entirely. Examples of animals found in the area include the Black Rat snake, and the Least Bittern, a wading bird.
The St Lawrence islands park itself has a rich history. It was initially founded in 1904 - one of the first national parks in Canada. It began with a small grant of land to the Canadian government, and slowly grew over the years with more donations and annexing of land. The St Lawrence islands park is also the site of a relic from the war of 1812: a preserved hull from a British gunboat. Many of the initial settlers to the St Lawrence islands area were involved in the war, and granted their land for loyalty to the British Crown.
It has been discovered that people have been coming to St Lawrence area since the end of the last ice age: archeological investigation revealed that indigenous peoples had been coming to the area to fish and hunt for thousands of years. Moving closer to our time, French explorers and missionaries used the St Lawrence river for travel in the 17th Century.
The St Lawrence Islands National Park also offers many activities for our modern day traveler. It is an island park, as the name suggests, and the water is warm enough in the summer to make the park focus on highly recreational activities. Sailboating and swimming are the main activities, and much of the parks tourism is fitting with its cottage country location: mostly day and weekend traveler looking to escape Toronto's sweltering summers.
A popular day stop is Mallorytown Landing, which offers a launch ramp for boats, as well as a playground and picnic area. There are educational opportunities to learn about the history of the area, and a relaxed hiking trail where the visitor can observe wetland areas.
There are, of course, many national parks in Canada that exist for many reasons. The St Lawrence Islands National Park fits into the category of those designed primarily for recreation. It is very accessible and close to a densely populated area: it is not, in short, the place for backcountry camping, or observation of a remote natural environment. Although educational opportunities exist, it functions more as recreational stopover point.
With its fun and family-friendly nature, rich with activities, the St Lawrence Islands National Park remains one of the most popular day-trip parks in Ontario, and the steady stream of visitors on their way to cottage country is unlikely to abate any time soon.