Algonquin Park is located in a rugged section of the Canadian Shield between Ontario's Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River. This high, rocky terrain containing numerous lakes and rivers, are features that many people associate with Algonquin.
The rocks that underlie Algonquin Park were created over the past 1.5 billion years, through forces of mountain building and erosion. These slowly eroding, hard rocks form the Algonquin Dome, an exposed part of the Canadian Shield that ranges from 150 metres above sea level in the southeastern corner of the Park, to almost 590 metres in elevation.
About 10 000 years ago, a huge glacier that had bulldozed the Algonquin area began to melt with a warming climate. The depressions created by the glacier filled with icy melt water producing Algonquin's 2000 lakes, rivers and ponds. The abundant water and high elevation of the Algonquin Dome is the reason why it is the source of five major watersheds that flow from the Park.
The melting of the glacier left behind glacial till, sand, and gravel that would make up the dominant types of the soil in the Park. In the western two-thirds of Algonquin, glacial till, a combination of a variety of particle sizes, forms soils that retain moisture for a long period of time. In the eastern third of the Park, huge rivers created by melting glaciers, deposited sand and gravel, forming soils that lose moisture quickly.
The differences in elevation and soil within Algonquin Park may seem insignificant, in combination with additional environmental factors they make up the five major habitats found in the Park.
For more information on the geography of Algonquin Park click on one of the following links:
Geography readings and worksheets
Educators: Learn more about Algonquin’s habitats, download readings and worksheets from the Educator Resources section of the Web Site, or you may also learn more through the following publications:
Lookout Trail Guide
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