Dragons in the Sky
Want to experience the true pioneer lifestyle? Try visiting Sligo without using bug repellent! Somewhere along Basin Depot Road you may be bombarded by horse flies and deer flies. Next to the rapids just downstream, you might spill blood with the black flies. And everywhere in between, mosquitoes will be eager to provide a true taste of life in the Canadian wilderness.
Fortunately the winged predators of these pests live here too in the form of dragonflies and damselflies. Each dragonfly has two sets of transparent wings protruding perpendicularly from its body, which allow it to hover, dive and turn with amazing agility. Damselflies hold their wings together behind their body when at rest. You will recognize them by their daintier, more fluttery flight.
Armed with increasingly powerful binoculars and detailed field guides, today’s naturalists are pioneering the observation and documentation of this surprisingly attractive group of species.
Why not join the club? With at least 85 species living in Algonquin Provincial Park, you are bound to see these flying dragons and damsels each time you visit the Little Bonnechere.
In the earliest days rivers provided the only means of accessing most lumber camps. In the heyday of logging on the Little Bonnechere great numbers of men in large canoes traveled upstream with supplies for the bustling square timber camps. Along the way, not far downstream from this spot, where the waters turned white they would disembark and portage around a set of small rapids originally identified by surveyors as the Head of Canoe Navigation.
A log cabin, built just above this take-out point, was named Sligo House after the town and county in Ireland from whence came the famous lumberman Paddy Garvey. It became one of many hotels along the Old Bonnechere Road where men traveling to the lumber camps could stop for a warm meal and a dry bed.
In 1883 Sligo was the site of the funeral and burial of Alexander McDonald, an infant of Ronald and Catherine and brother to their four surviving children. In subsequent years, Ronald and his brother James cleared fifteen acres of farmland here and, according to the 1890 census had “ample outbuildings, cattle, poultry, etc.” Widowed in 1906, Mrs. McDonald and her children lived here until the expansion of Algonquin Provincial Park in 1914.
For some years after that the little log cabin was used as a shelter for park rangers, but eventually the buildings were removed and the clearing was planted in pine. This left only the remains of a root cellar and the small fenced-in grave with wooden cross that still stands not far from the road, amidst the raspberry bushes and underbrush.
- head of Canoe Navigation rapids