Point Pelee National Park
Point Pelee, just over 50 km (30 miles) south-east of Windsor, Ontario, lies at the most southern point on the Canadian mainland. It is a 10-kilometre (6-mile) sandspit of the 20 square kilometres.
In 1918, Point Pelee became Canada’s ninth national park. Between 1957 and 1970, the land acquisition program reduced the number of privately owned properties. In 1972, a newly adopted plan outlined the conservation of natural resources.
It is on a spring and fall migration route of birds and monarch butterflies.
French explorers of what is known today as Southwestern Ontario reported this region’s unusually small number of coniferous trees. The vast forest of deciduous trees was, in fact, the northern end of a broad belt which extends from the coastal zone of the Carolinas, northward between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountains, to southern Ontario. The Canadian Carolinian zone is very small. Altogether, it represents less than one-quarter of one percent of the total land mass of Canada.
Native settlements from 600 CE have been found near the marsh. Evidence from these sites suggests they were occupied during the summer season by small, mobile groups that relied on the marsh for much of their food.
The largest of these archaeological sites found so far at Point Pelee was occupied between 700 CE and 900 CE. The last phase of the pre-contact period ran from 900 to 1600, and is set apart from the others by a significant cultural change.
Near the end of the 10th century, there was a marked increase in the number of seasonal habitation sites. By the time Europeans arrived on the scene in the 17th century, the southern Great Lakes Basin was occupied by groups that favoured more permanent villages and for whom agriculture was as important as hunting.
The first written reference noting the presence of native inhabitants on Point Pelee was provided by the surveyor Abraham Iradell in 1799. He reported that the land was home to a number of Aboriginal families who lived in wooden cabins and cultivated corn.
See map of the park.
See also: National Parks of Canada.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)