A Rare Gem, Right in Our Backyard

People don’t realize what is right in their backyard when it comes to eco-tourism destinations, and one of the most overlooked places is the Long Point area. Long Point is proof without a doubt that you don’t have to drive six hours north of Toronto to see the land change shape, or snag a picture of an animal that you’d never see at home.

As well, Big Creek shows us every year that a trip to the Amazon isn’t the only place that you’ll be able to see dense forests and a bird of prey just ten feet from your boat.

These eco-systems are part of the world biosphere and one of the very few in Canada. The land itself is actually managed by the UN, with Big Creek draining directly into that area of Long Point. The land surrounding these two bodies of water are potentially the most significant in Ontario.

Called Ontario’s South Coast, the water is surrounded by a Carolinian Forest. This means that the area is home to one of the most diverse spectrums of plant and wildlife in all of Ontario. Because it’s so far South (almost on the same parallel as North California), there are species of plants and animals that would be impossible to find anywhere else in Canada. In fact, there are more than 450 threatened or endangered species in just that biosphere alone!

Aside from the amazing diversity of plant and wildlife, the area has a fantastic settlement history too and was actually home to Pirates during prohibition. Long Point actually has more shipwrecks to its name than any other Great Lake in Ontario due to the sandbars and shallow waters of Lake Erie. In fact, during prohibition there were men who functioned as Rum Runners, taking their shipments across the lake for big money. The Pirates would raid these ships and the people who were settled at Long Point would actually go out and collect the rum that happened to float to shore after the ships had capsized. The fun ended when they finally sent law enforcement down to the shores of Long Point, and to this day Long Point is still a dry area.

However despite the shipwrecks, there is an upside to Lake Erie’s shallow waters, including a much warmer area to kayak and swim. We actually use this area to teach our Sea Kayak rescue as the shallow and warm waters of Lake Erie provide just enough of a challenge to our students, without needing a full wetsuit. It’s almost like being in the Caribbean with the bright blue waters, warm temperature, and the forgiving currents throughout. Long Point can be best described as providing a very comfortable sense of adventure.

However, you can’t gush about Long Point without mentioning Big Creek. While Long Point is open and warm, Big Creek can be described best as a dense jungle situation just an hour and a half south of Brant County. Big Creek is aptly named as it is very deep throughout, providing a cool paddling experience in the middle of the summer. This creek is home to cool water and some of the most fertile land in Southern Ontario, so you are surrounded at all times by dense forest and plant life.
We’ve seen some amazing creatures and plants on these trips, including prickly cacti that you wouldn’t expect to see growing wild in Canada, Bald Eagles so close to us that we could feel the wind as they flapped their wings, and lastly, the largest raccoon I have ever seen.

You don’t have to travel hours to get a sense of the great outdoors, these places are right in our backyard. This year, consider going South instead of North for your nature getaway. Book a Tour here.