Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: 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