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Bon Echo Provincial Park

Established in 1971 Bon Echo Provincial Park is located along Hwy 41 in Cloyne, Ontario in the picturesque Addington Highlands. Covering an area of over 8,000 hectares and with over 400 campsites, Bon Echo Provincial Park plays host to over 150,000 visitors every year.

One of the most distinguishing features of the park is Mazinaw Rock, a 100 m cliff face rising up from the waters of Mazinaw Lake. For 2.5 kms there are over 200 Aboriginal pictographs. Due to their cultural and historical significance the Mazinaw Pictographs are now a National Historic Site of Canada.

Bon Echo Provincial Park offers several hiking trails from an easy one kilometre walk along Bon Echo Creek to the more challenging Abes and Essens Lake Trail. Canoeing is also popular in the park and canoe rentals are available. Mazinaw Lake is the only lake that allows motor boats. All smaller lakes in the park are motor-boat free lakes. Joeperry and Pearson Lakes offer canoe-in camping.

Prior to the 19th century the area was used almost exclusively for farming and logging. In 1898 a dentist named Weston A. Price rented a campsite along Mazinaw Lake from a farmer named David Weese during the summer months. Returning the following summer Price purchased the land which would eventually become Bon Echo Park and constructed an Inn which he named the Bon Echo Inn. The Inn consisted of a lodge with guest rooms and five cottages, as well as numerous outbuildings including a separate residence for staff.

By 1900 Bon Echo Inn ushered in a new century and a new era...tourism had arrived to the Addington Highlands. A year later in 1901 Flora Macdonald Dennison, her husband Howard and son Merrill spent the summer at Bon Echo. The Dennisons were so impressed with the beauty of the area they purchased property close to the narrows and built a summer residence. In 1910 Weston Price sold the Bon Echo Inn to the Dennisons. Two years later, the marriage ended and Flora was left to manage the Inn by herself.

During this time Flora transformed the Inn into a “a haven for artists and philosophers in an inspiring natural landscape with an incredible view of Mazinaw Rock, where visitors could renew their souls, their energies and their creative instincts.”

The Inn housed such famous guests as Frank Lloyd Wright and members of the Group of Seven. Flora was greatly influenced by the writings of Walt Whitman, an American poet and had an inscription made on a rock face dedicated to the him. Upon Flora's death in 1921 her son inherited the Inn and surrounding property. Under his proprietorship the Bon Echo Inn would continue to operate until around 1930, when the Great Depression caused tourism to dwindle. In 1936 a fire destroyed the Inn. Although Merrill Dennison never rebuilt the Inn and sold off much of the land he still continued to spend summers at Bon Echo at a cottage he built on Mazinaw Lake. In 1956 Merrill Dennison gifted the buildings and 100 acres to the provincial government to be used as a provincial park.

Places to Explore

Bon Echo Provincial Park
Centennial Lake
Minden Wild Water Preserve
Vennachar Memorial Church

Ontario Towns and Cities

Dorset, Ontario
Minden, Ontario

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