Point Pelee Ontario is Canada's most southerly spot on the mainland, lying at 42 degrees and on a par with Rome and Barcelona. It lies in Lake Erie not far from Leamington, Ontario, and about a four hour drive west from Toronto.
It's also a renowned conservation area, vital to the migrations of birds and butterflies.
The time to visit Point Pelee and neighbouring Pelee Island (Canada's most southerly inhabited spot) is in
or autumn when this narrow strip of land is a stopover spot for migratory warblers, of all colors, and, in the fall, Monarch butterflies making their annual pilgrimage to Mexico. the Monarch migration is an amazing sight.
This is Point Pelee's sign proclaiming its spot on the forty-second parallel, which isn't something people would expect when they think of Canada.
The reason our climate here isn't quite like that of southern Europe is because their temperatures are moderated by the seas that surround them. Our climate is defined by our spot in the centre of a large, relatively dry land mass with the prevailing wind and weather coming all the way across the Rocky Mountains and the prairies.
We do, of course, get some moderation from the Great lakes but they're freshwater and they freeze at the edges in winter so not quite the same as the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
The reason Point Pelee Ontario exists is the strong currents that, with the winds, dredged up sand into this long spit of land reaching out into Lake Erie. The currents and winds at the tip of the point make for a wild ride on even calm days. Seabirds love it, probably for the food they can find in the churning waters. Mariners don't like it, particularly in the olden days, ships were often driven ashore and wrecked on the shoals.
Further up the Point, only a mile from the raging winds and currents at the point, the water is calm in the lee of the land. So calm, cattails grow in profusion and waterfowl nest. The boardwalk takes you out among the cattails so you can experience this quiet world away from the land.
Out here, away from the land, are Canada Geese, American Coots, swans, and too many kinds of ducks to list, not to mention the various land birds that prefer to live among the cattails -- such as Redwing Blackbirds.
Other migratory species to be found passing through the neighbourhood are larger birds, like these Turkey Vultures and Great Blue Herons. Like their smaller cousins, they find this long finger of land poking south into the lake a convenient resting place for an hour or a day.
Getting into the Park is relatively expensive, $7.90 for an adult, but your entrance fee lasts all day and, in the busier seasons, there's enough to see and do to make an all-day pass worthwhile. The beaches have drawn people to the Point for decades, so much so that entrance restrictions are placed in summer to protect the Park.
Point Pelee Ontario's Visitor Centre is about a kilometre and a half from the tip and it has various interpretive exhibits about the Point and its history. To get right to the end, a shuttle runs every 20 minutes between the Centre and almost the tip. From the shuttle drop-off to the tip is about a half kilometre walk along a boardwalk and graded path.
Throughout the Park there are walking and cycling trails for getting closer to nature. These trails too are well maintained and level. Ideal even for less than steady walkers.
At the eastern, Niagara, end of the Talbot Trail and on nearly the same latitude, lies the Royal Botanical Gardens and associated wildlife Sanctuaries. If you enjoy Point Pelee, you may enjoy the Royal Botanical Gardens as well.
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