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PostPosted: June 14th, 2021, 8:37 am 

Joined: February 18th, 2021, 9:21 am
Posts: 57
We've gone into the northern part of the park a number of times, but we weren't able to book any of those sites this year so we tried the southern part, via Pete's Place, instead.

Getting There

The road in is nice and easy. Off the highway 400 we exited around mactier and took healey lake rd in. Pete's place is well signed, so there was no trouble finding it. I initially tried to use my GPS to get there, but gave up as mine requires you to enter the street address, and the street address for Pete's Place is surprisingly hard to find online.

I had received an email from OP telling me that in person check in was suspended due to covid and to just bring a copy of my reservation letter, but when we arrived there were workers in the office and they did a normal check in.

I'd never been to Pete's Place before, but it's a nice access point. The office has basic supplies and souvenirs for purchase, there's canoes for rent, plenty of parking, and a nice pull through area by the launch for unloading. My only complaint was that the canoe launch (clearly signed) had a rough concrete boat ramp. We have canvas canoes, so we load in the water. I saw some people loading their rental canoes on the ramp and then sliding them down, but obviously you can't do that with a good canoe. It just seemed to me that a concrete launch ramp was an odd choice for a canoe launch.

The Trip

We didn't intend to go far, having 3 young kids. Launching from Pete's place you first cross Blackstone harbour. This part was pretty straightforward. Your goal is a small channel on the other side called, on the map, the captain Allen straight. It's not marked that I saw, but it was pretty easy to find. Plus there were boats coming in and out of it fairly frequently. Crossing the harbour took about 15 min.

The channel is where it surprised me. It's a relatively narrow channel and it was just full of motor boats. I felt like I'd unintentionally wandered into the middle of a race scene. They were buzzing around on ever side of us, and only about half of them bothered to slow down when they passed us. My young son (12) was piloting the other canoe for the first time, and so it was a bit worrisome.

Out of the channel you're into woods bay. This is the main part of the trip. It's a decent sized bay, the water was calm on the way out, a bit rougher on the return. If you're a novice canoeist I probably wouldn't do it alone, but I think most people would be fine. There were still lots of boats, but there was enough room for them to keep a wide berth. I was surprised at the number of fancy private cottages all around woods bay. I'm not sure what the history is or how all those private places ended up in the middle of a provincial Park, but it did make it feel like I wasn't really "back country" . Anyway, your goal in woods bay is another small channel on the opposite side. This one is also not marked that I could see, but was still easy to find. Once in that channel it was more games of motorboat chicken. There were a number of camp sites along the banks of that channel, I felt sorry for the people camped there with the constant motor boats buzzing by just meters from your site.

Once through that channel you can go south a bit where there's a pair of sites, or north to where there's another cluster. The northern cluster looked to be about another 45 minute paddle, but our reservation was at one of the southern sites and so it was only about another 10 minutes.

Again, lots of private cottages. It felt weird, because my way markers were not the typical things like "keep to the left of that Rocky outcrop that looks like a face" but rather things like "Go straight out from that new cedar boat house and head towards the big white cottage with the large Canadian flag" . Did not really feel like back country.

The Site

We found the site no problem. The shores were all rock except for a nice pull up area in the middle that was swampy. Very mushy ground.
The Site was large and clean. It had a fire pit made of rocks, a steel framed picnic table, what looked like a new thunder box and for my first time ever, one of these steel food storage bins I had heard about! That was interesting. I have always hung my food barrel and so I bring ropes and a pulley to do that. This really saved that effort, and made it easier for my wife and kids to access the food. I didn't think I'd see the need for a food container, but I have to admit it was a perk I appreciated.

Some past camper had tied little pieces of glow in the dark rope to the trees marking the path to the thunder box, when it got dark and they lit up, my 6 year old daughter thought it was amazing.

I was surprised at the water. In the northern lakes the water is darker and dirtier, and I have to clean my water filter frequently or it is too hard to pump. I had thought that in the southern area, this being Georgian Bay, that the water would be cleaner and easier to pump. But it seemed about the same.

We stayed 2 nights and had a great time, except for the motorboats buzzing by, or the fishing boats which would trawl by slowly while playing loud music. One of those dumped their minnow bucket before they left, and that evening we had tonnes of dead minnows crowding the shore of our site.

The one other thing I'll mention is the caterpillars. I had read about the gypsy moth infestation this year, and around my own property I had seen some. But on our site the caterpillars were insane. I have never seen anything like it. There were millions of them. They looked to be on every leaf of every tree. Even the spruce trees had them on the majority of their needles. They were hanging by their silk threads right about eye level all over the place as you walked around, so you were constantly plucking them off your shoulders, back, plate of food, drink, or anything else they could land on. And their droppings! All weekend it sounded in the tent like it was raining, but it was not water, but a shower of caterpillar poop! When I went to take down my tarp over the picnic table when we were leaving, it had so much poop on it it looked like a sesame seed bagel. I'm actually very concerned about the trees. Every one I looked at had damage to the vast majority of its leaves, and most of that damage was around 50% of the leaf. I wonder how the trees will survive that level of defoliating.

Bottom Line

Good trip over all for a family weekend, but it was the site quality that made the trip, the paddle out was the low point. I wish OP could do something about all those motorboat.

I'll try to post some pics in a separate post.

PostPosted: June 14th, 2021, 8:40 am 

Joined: February 18th, 2021, 9:21 am
Posts: 57
Ok, the forum keeps rejecting my pics, so not sure how to post them. Sorry!

PostPosted: June 14th, 2021, 10:25 am 

Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
Posts: 1241
Location: Burns Lake, BC
Thanks for the read.
Keep the trips coming!

Check the size of your pics.
I always need my wife to re-size my picture otherwise they do not work because they are too large.
She does it in Photoshop. (I don't know how to do it)

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