Rondeau Provincial Park
When the people of the Neutral Nation inhabited this area, it was a wilderness of trees. They found more than sufficient fish, game, and plants for their needs. Emile Brulé may have been the first white man to arrive here.
The first mapping and reports were prepared by French visitors. The point became a stopping point for canoers travelling between Fort Detroit and Fort Niagara.
When the English took over the area, it continued to be a stopping point. Shortly after 1790, Governor John Graves Simcoe declared that the area where the park now is located was to become an ordnance land and out of bounds for settlement and unauthorized commercial activity.
The first nearby settlement was made in 1809. The port was a stopping point for naval repairs during the War of 1812. In order to maintain the bay as a port, it was necessary to dredge shifting sand and to build piers and breakwaters. Although there was some marine traffic to Ohio, the port never really reached its potential.
After the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in the US, nearby Shrewsbury became one of the termini of the Underground Railway for escaping slaves. Many of the arrivals took up one-acre plots here.
Rondeau is located a few miles southeast of the town of Blenheim in southwestern part of the Canadian Province of Ontario.
This 3,254 hectare park was formed by water currents depositing sand over several thousand years. Erosion from adjacent cliffs created an enormous cuspate sandspit, one of the most outstanding in the world. Centuries of wave action shaped its unique sand ridges and sloughs, covered with delicate grasses and filled with marshes.
Plants took root in sterile dunes and turned into lush Carolinian forest, one of Canada’s largest Carolinian forests.
Nestled deep within the heart of these forests, it is Ontario`s second oldest Provincial Park, having been formed in 1894. It juts from the shores of Lake Erie in an enormous crescent-shaped form.
The buildings of the original Bates commercial fishery were located on Lakeshore Road, just north of the present-day traffic circle on Lake Erie. Because of conflicting uses with the newly-formed Rondeau Provincial Park, the fishery was moved to the Harwich-Howard townline by the end of the nineteenth century.
The large house of the Bates family remained in the park – considerably altered – serving as a cottage for many years for the Dr. Septimus Thompson family and descendants.
As the original fishery was being relocated, the timber foundation for one of the smaller fish processing buildings became part of the under-pinning for the cottage on Lot G, Lakeshore Road. This is believed to be the oldest man-made structure still in existence in Rondeau.
When George Goldworthy Rondeau’s second superintendent died in June 1927, he was succeeded by his wife Elsie Gordon Goldworthy, who was acting superintendent for almost a year. Elsie is believed to have been one of the first women in public park leadership in North America.
In 1908, University of Toronto’s new Faculty of Forestry made its first field trip to Rondeau. Dr. E.B. Fernow and Dr. J.H. White pioneered the university’s forestry program and made many excursions to Rondeau with their classes.
The Clear Sky Chart shows when it will be cloudy or clear for up to the next two days. It is a prediction of when Rondeau Provincial Park will have good weather for astronomical observing.
We would like to thank Emily Slavik, Natural Heritage Education Leader, Rondeau Provincial Park, for providing information for this page.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)