Ontario, Canada
Canadian Provinces

The Algonquin Ecosystem is located in high country between Georgian Bay (Lake Huron) to the west and the Ottawa River Valley to the east, in south-central Ontario. Prevailing westerly winds off Georgian Bay lose their moisture in the form of rain or snow as they cool while rising through 300m (1000ft) passing over the Algonquin Dome.

It is this precipitation that gives rise to the headwaters of the 7 major rivers which flow off the Algonquin Dome, a situation unique in the world.

Algonquin Dome

The Algonquin Dome, that part of Ontario between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa Valley, offers an intact example of the Great Lakes Forest ecosystem, providing a remarkable plant and animal species diversity which  can endure indefinitely if properly managed into the future.

By far the most important characteristic of the Algonquin Dome is its pure water.  Warm moist air rising through 1000 feet (300m), condenses in the form of rain or snow as it ascends the Dome, blown by the prevailing westerly winds off Georgian Bay / Lake Huron.  This gives rise to the source waters of 24 drainage systems;  18 within Algonquin Park, and 6 just outside the Park boundary.  It is the joining of these drainage systems that ultimately forms 7 major waterways;  the Madawaska, Muskoka, Magnetawan, Amable du Fond, Petawawa, Bonnechere and York Rivers, a situation certainly unique in Ontario and probably in the world.

Owing to the special nature of these 24 drainage systems, Algonquin Eco Watch considers the Algonquin ecosystem to encompass all of Algonquin Provincial Park, plus those drainage systems that source outside the Park, but flow into it.  

While considerable knowledge has been accumulated about the larger fish producing lakes on the Algonquin Dome, through standard lake survey methods, very little work has been done to assess and document characteristics of the hundreds of tiny lakes and spring marshes that together make up the irreplaceable headwaters of the 7 major river systems flowing off the Dome.

The Algonquin Eco Watch Group will commit funds to add to the knowledge base concerning these source waters, either directly or indirectly through cooperative effort with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ontario Parks.

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The adjacent graph shows the tremendous growth in Ontario's human population since Canada's Confederation in 1867 (source: Statistics Canada).  During that same period, many North American species such as the passenger pigeon became extinct and many more such as the peregrine falcon have been classified as rare, threatened, or endangered

As Ontario's human population continues to expand, thought must be given to other than just economic benefits if a reasonable quality of life is to exist for future generations of all species - not just humankind.  Algonquin Eco Watch believes that if we intend to maintain an ecological balance in Ontario, decisions must be made soon to ensure that the necessary niches are preserved to guarantee the health of all species into the future; the alternatives are deeply saddening.

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