The Pinery Provincial Park
In 1826 the Canada Company purchased from the British Crown the area of land known as the Huron tract. In 1953 the Company still owned one parcel, about 4200 acres of sandy hills covered with scrub trees, which no one else wanted. Though it is named "the Pinery", it has more decidous than coniferous growth in it.
In 1953 there was rumor afoot that private interests were trying to purchase the land to subdivide and sell as building lots for summer homes. The Ausable Authority, prodded into action by the London Chamber of Commerce, became actively interested in saving this last stretch of beach from private exploitation.
As it is customary in such cases, the first step was to approach the Ontario Government and suggest that the land be bought and developed as a provincial park. The answer was a statement that the government was going out of the parks business and would not buy or develop the land; but if the Authority wished to do so, liberal assistance in the form of grants would be given.
The Authority refused to realize the size of the undertaking at hand and proceeded to battle. A master plan was drawn up, cost were determined and a series of promotion meetings were held. From all directions, pressure was brought to bear on the local Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and after two years the provincial government reversed its former decision with an announcement that it was about to purchase, develop and manage several areas as parks and The Pinery would be one of the first to receive attention.
In 1957 this plan went into operation and in 1959 The Pinery was first used by the public. It is one of the finest provincial parks in the province, located as it is within one hour's drive of thousands of people. It has over four thousand acres of woodland, over four miles of beach, hills for skiing in winter, a lake for swimming and boating, a river for canoeing and fishing, and a variety of plants not normally found so far north.
The Pinery Provincial Park grew to over 6000 acres with the purchase of the Ski Club property formerly operated by the Walkers of Oakwood Park.
With its outstanding natural features, The Pinery is classed as a natural environment park. The landscape is composed almost entirely of sand. The large hills which immediately welcome the visitor at the entrance gate are beach dunes over 6000 years old, from the glacial shores of Lake Nipissing. Dunes in the park may range in height from 90 feet alongside the highway, to only a few feet at the beach. A unique variety of native species awaits the naturalist, with flowers, trees and wildlife unique to the oak savanna habitat. This oak savanna is an area of international scientific and natural interest, with over half the total North American remnants of this habitat found within the boundaries of The Pinery Provincial Park.
The Pinery contains a mixed forest of red and white pine and hardwoods. Many deer and small mammals can be found throughout the park. There is no hunting allowed within the park boundaries. Fishing is allowed in the Ausable River which flows through the park and with luck you may find pike, bass, and blue gills. Good fishing can be had in Lake Huron.
The park has camping areas, picnic areas on the beach, a large picnic shelter, change houses, comfort stations and many other conveniences for users. It also has a year-round interpretive centre with naturalists on hand to answer questions.
A nature programme was established in 1961. In 1962, an amphitheatre was constructed in a blow hole on the old sand road half way between the lower bridge and the Dune Camp office. This had a screen, a projector booth and a seating capacity for 700 people. In 1968 the park extended its winter facilities by establishing 28 miles of trails for cross-country skiing and numerous camping roads for snowmobile use.
The Pinery has experienced many changes over the years and it is without any doubt one of Ontario's finest parks, whether your desire is for a quiet walk through the forest observing nature at its finest or a holiday away from the urban sprawl or the enjoyment of the many summer and winter activities for which the park is famous.