Sibbald Point Provincial Park

Length of stay: 1 day
January 2021

Located along the rocky shores of Lake Simcoe, Sibbald Point Provincial Park is open year-round and offers a number of activities depending on the season. To swimming, hiking, biking, boating and fishing in the summer and snowshoeing and ice fishing in the winter. Sibbald Point also offers car-camping in ten different campgrounds with a mix of both electrical and non-electrical sites.

Cases have been surging in Ontario for the past couple of months with new records being shattered almost every day. We have been in a strict lockdown since December 26, 2020 and tighter restrictions are expected to be announced early next week. Provincial parks were still open, but we weren’t sure for how much longer. So with nothing to do this weekend, we decided to hit up a provincial park we’ve never been to before.

Sibbald Point is located about an hour north of Toronto. The main road into the park and parking lots are kept open all year round and are plowed in the winter. There is a self-serve machine near the entrance to pay for a day pass, but we bypassed it since we purchased an annual park pass last month.

We first hiked along the Maidenhair Fern Trail (2.0km, rated easy). The trail loops through the forest and passes by a Waste Stabilization Area, which is fenced off. The path is well marked with numbered signs from #1 to #9. The snow along the path was packed down, which is a good sign that it is well used, even during the winter.

We then drove down to the beach area. There are a couple of docks near the parking lot that are used as a boat launch during the summer. We walked along one of the docks and enjoyed the nice view out into the water. There was a lot of frazil ice here, something we don’t get to see very often.

We then walked down to the beach area and took a stroll along the icy shore.

From here we walked along the Heritage Trail (1km, rated easy), which passes by two historic buildings. The first is the Eildon Hall Museum, which used to be the Sibbald Family Estate Home and is one of the oldest structures in the area. Susan Sibbald acquired the small Regency style cottage around 1835 and named it Eildon Hall after her family home in Scotland. It was expanded and renovated into an extensive rural manor. The estate remained in the Sibbald family until 1952.

During the summer months the museum is open to the public and features a diverse collection of original art, artifacts and furnishings from the Sibbald family.

The trail then leads to St. George’s Anglican Church and graveyard. The church was built and completed in 1877 by Susan Sibbald’s three sons and replaced an existing small wooden church which was built in 1839. It was dedicated as a memorial to her and is still used as a church to this day. There is a small cemetery around the church, which contains the graves of many prominent citizens of the Lake Simcoe area, including writers Stephen Leacock and Mazo de la Roche.

After walking around the cemetery, we turned around and walked back the way we came along the Heritage Walk and back to the parking lot. We finished up just after 12p.m and then made the drive back to Toronto.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

38 thoughts on “Sibbald Point Provincial Park

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always neat to visit a park that contains historic buildings and provides more details on the history of the area and early settlers. It was great visiting in the winter as we practically had the entire park all to ourselves. The frazils were an added bonus. We don’t get to see them often, so they were a lovely surprise.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure, it was a great way to spend a couple of hours outdoors getting some fresh air and exercise. It’s too bad that the Eildon Hall and church were both closed, but we practically had the park all to ourselves. Hope you enjoyed your riverside walk. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks, despite the fact that it was cloudy, it was still a nice day to go for a walk as it was quite mild outside. It was a neat park to explore that’s relatively close to home and offers a variety of activities, including a couple of small trails, historic buildings, and views of the lake.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I guess it’s not that surprising given how close it is to Toronto. Glad we visited in the winter then as we practically had the park all to ourselves! And I’m so happy that the government kept all the parks open, even during the stay-at-home order.

  1. salsaworldtraveler says:

    Hi! Having gone to college in New Hampshire and worked there for a short while later, I really admire your venturing out and sharing your explorations under what look to me to be tough conditions.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s been tough living in a big city like Toronto since the start of the pandemic as most of the walking trails and sidewalks are pretty busy. We instead have been leaving the city on most weekends to explore other parks that are much less busy. My husband actually lived in Boston for a few years and we’ve spent a lot of time visiting New Hampshire and the rest of New England. It is one of my favourite places in the world.

  2. Ab says:

    I was trying to figure out what those things in the water were. I’ve never heard of Frazil ice until now. So pretty! And that church is so beautifully preserved and maintained. A nice scenic outing!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Frazil ice is so beautiful. I only really see it near the start of winter before all the snow covers it up. And agreed, the church and graveyard were one of the highlights of Sibbald Point. It’s too bad the church wasn’t open.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Same. I continue to be impressed with Ontario’s provincial parks and how they’ve made such an effort to protect historic buildings in addition to the wilderness. It’s also great how they’ve made an effort to highlight important events and people that shaped the history of Ontario.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. We were lucky that we were able to see all the interesting ice formations on the water before the lake became covered with snow. It was such a lovely day to go for a walk in the winter and just enjoy the outdoors. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Beautiful walk and your photos are terrific. It’s a very appealing walk. I hope governments are sensible enough to keep things shut down since the variants are now rising (I actually don’t have a lot of hope for that – they seem to have one-track minds. Makes me wonder how many of them are getting kickbacks.). Of course, we are locked up tighter than a prison here. Very little comes in or out, and covid has been very controlled. I have my fingers crossed for the summer but I won’t hold my breath.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s been nice being able to explore more of the parks close to home. And agreed, I hope the government does a better job of handling the variants than the second wave of the pandemic, but I too don’t have high hopes. Seems there is more effort these days to support and protect businesses than people. It’s frustrating how we’ve been living with the pandemic for nearly a year now and it seems like things are only getting worse instead of better. Sigh. For now, we’re going to try to spend as much time outdoors as we can just in case the parks close down again or before the warmer weather brings out the crowds.

  4. carolinehelbig says:

    It’s nice to see how this park looks in winter. I’ve only been in summer. The ice formations at the lake’s edge are wonderful. It looks so peaceful…very different from hot summer weekends.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s neat to visit a place in a different season for a totally different experience. Our provincial parks have become much more popular than usual because of the pandemic, so we’re trying to visit the ones close to the GTA during the off season before the crowds take over. Agreed, the ice formations in the water were pretty incredible. It was nice to see it before the snow covered them up.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The ice formations in the water were beautiful, they looked like icy lily pads. The formations are often referred to as frazil ice or pancake ice, which occur when wind or a current forces newly formed ice to bump into each other. Glad we were able to see them before the snow covered up the icy shores.

      • alisendopf says:

        Okay – that is super cool. I’ve never really seen anything like that. I don’t spend much time around frozen water, but still, you’d think I’d have seen that before. Does that happen every year?

  5. Oh, the Places We See says:

    I’m blown away by anyone walking in snow and over icy pathways. We have so little winter weather here that I can’t conceive of how it could be in our parks during the winter with weather like this. We live near the Great Smoky Mountains, but the roads to it and through it are usually closed during inclement weather. Your photos are wonderfully winterish!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We went to Sibbald Point near the beginning of January. Since then we’ve received a lot more snow. Enough so we can finally use our snowshoes. Now that we’ve been working from home for nearly a year, I’ve come to enjoy the snow a lot more since I don’t have to commute in it. How fortunate that you live near the Great Smoky Mountains. You must have a lot of great trails nearby.

  6. Janet says:

    I never knew what frazzil ice was until I saw it once in Yosemite. I’ve never seen it since that one time years ago. Quite interesting.

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