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Rondeau Provincial Park: Morpeth, Ontario


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Looking for a pleasant drive, friendly folks, and an area steeped in history? Head to the Lake Erie region of Southwestern Ontario, Canada.

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Recently we followed the trail of the War of 1812 through Canada’s coastal towns along Lake Erie.


Here’s a little history lesson:


Back in 1812, Britain was preoccupied with Napoleon and left the colonies in Canada unguarded. The Americans were licking their chops to take possession of Lake Erie’s shores, and began a campaign to harass the Canadian settlers. Having enough, Canada’s General Brock enlisted the help of Chief Tecumseh and his Shawnee warriors and kicked the Americans back, burning Detroit for good measure.


The dust settled few years later, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, and Americans and Canadians have been friends ever since.



Today Southern Ontario is a prosperous farming region, and towns along the shores of Lake Erie are traditional summer destinations. The atmosphere is similar to beach communities on the US east coast: surf, sand, and fun.


There are several provincial parks situated along Lake Erie, each with its own special charm. We spent a few nights at Rondeau Provincial Park, and were delighted with all it had to offer.


Rondeau Park is located on a peninsula, with Lake Erie to the east and Rondeau Bay to the west. It’s about 8 km long, and half as wide. There are only two streets that traverse the length of the peninsula, and the whole finger is provincial park land with lovely lakeside summer homes, many built in the 1920’s and 30’s. What a splendid drive on the bike!


The peninsula is unique in that is has three completely different ecosystems – Carolinian Forest (where the campground is located), Freshwater Dunes (on the lake side), and Black Oak Savannah (marshes and wetlands on the bay side).


Rondeau’s large campground is nestled in the shade of the forest with spacious sites and plenty of privacy landscaping. We were surprised at the number of tent campers in these Ontario parks. Maybe it’s just the campgrounds we visited, but tents comprised most of the sites. We spotted a few camper trailers and a handful of fifth-wheels. But motorhomes were rare, even though the camping sites can easy accommodate any size RV.


Along the length of Rondeau peninsula there’s a dozen or so access points that lead across the dunes to Lake Erie. Several are within easy walking distance of the campground. I reconnoitered a few, and found many stretches of beautiful beach that were empty and pleasantly breezy.


At the far end of the peninsula, the Visitor Centre was well appointed with exhibits and live animals to show the diversity of wildlife in the park. From here you can enjoy programs and guided hikes with the Park Rangers.


The summer we visited had been unusually wet and rainy, spawning a bumper crop of bugs. For the Butterfly Hike, we suited up in long pants and jackets because the mosquitos were “the worst in years” the ranger told us, her face covered in welts. Walking through the trees or approaching any vegetation on the margins, we were swarmed immediately. I’m talking clouds of mosquitos, which attacked our hiking group with fury and carried away two little toddlers in bathing suits. No, just kidding. They only took the boy.


Luckily once you reached the open air the vicious bugs abated, so we were often running for our lives toward sunlight. It was a memorable hike. And we saw some butterflies.


Over on the bay side there’s also an ambitious 7 km trail through the thick of the marshes. We looked at the park map, calculated the likely population of insects in the marsh, and demurred. You’d need a Kevlar suit to survive.


On the placid lake side, charming summer cottages line the dunes. Many are historic properties and all are well-kempt and a delight to view. Locals ride bicycles around the park’s loops, fish and sail in the water, and seem to live in friendly harmony with the campground’s visitors.


Just outside the park is a small area of commerce, including a grocery/camp store, putt-putt golf, and restaurants. Supper was enjoyed at Rondeau Joe’s, a pleasant pub near the park entrance where we sipped local pints of beer and hard cider and watched the bay.


Touring around Lake Erie and the surrounding communities was an enjoyable trip, and we hope to repeat it soon. And following the path of the War of 1812 proved quite educational. The Canadians were fond of reminding us: “We won that one, eh.”


Indeed. And you are still winners today!








November 17, 2022


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