The famous Bon Echo Rock, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Cloyne Ontario

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The famous Bon Echo Rock, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Cloyne Ontario

Glowing Gold and red in the rays of the evening sunset, and framed by pine and birch trees, Bon Echo rock is a ready-made subject for a painting or photograph. Rising from a geological fault line for 1.6 kiolometres along Mazinaw Lake, this 91 metre cliff has acquired the nickname “Canada’s Gibraltar”.

Its appeal dates back for a long time. For centuries, Native canoists paused at the foot of the sheer rock face and using ochre bear grease, painted their impression of the life they lived and the creatures they revered. These birds, mammals and even human figures are still portrayed in what is considered Ontario’s largest-known collection of pictographs.

The place also appealed to Flora MacDonald Denison. In 1919, Denison, one of Ontario’s earliest women’s rights advocates, bought the Bon Echo Inn. She transformed the resort into a retreat for Canadian artists and formed the Walt Whitman Club of Bon Echo.  For many years the haven drew such artists as Group of Seven painter Frank Johnston, who sketched the cover of the Denison’s literary magazine, the sunset of Bon Echo.

Following Whitman’s death in 1919, Flora Denison added what has become the rock’s most unusual feature- a tribute to the poet carved into the rock face. In letters a foot high are the words from his poem”Leaves of Grass”

My foothold is tendon’d and mortised in granite I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know amplitude of time.

The tribute is visible only from the water and is just north of the narrows that divide Upper and Lower Mazinaw Lake.

Bon Echo Provincial Park was created in 1959 after Flora Dennison’s son Merrill,  English Canada’s first important twentieth century playwright, turned the site over to the Ontario Government. It is Eastern Ontario’s largest provincial park.

Casual campers can drive to one of the more then five hundred campsites, while those seeking seclusion can canoe or hike to more remote locations.  While rock climbers scale or rappel the sheer granite face, the more passive among us are content to simply stand at the narrows and paint, take photographs or just try out the echo of Canada’s Gibraltar.

The park lies on Highway 41 about 40 kilometres north or Highway 7 at Kaladar.

Information Source: From Author Ron Brown and his book the “Top 150 most unusual things to see in Ontario”

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