Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rene Brunelle Provincial Park : I'm on the Top of Ontario Ma!

The Ballad of Rene Brunelle (If you can't guess the song ask someone who is over 40)

Come and listen to a story about a man named Rene (Joseph Napoleon) Brunelle,
A jack of all trades (teacher, tourism operator, politician, etc.) he treated everybody well.
Then one day he decided to pack it in.
And way up north they decided to honour him. (With a Provincial park that is.)

Well, first thing's first, old Rene was always fair,
But his wife must of said we cannot live near there.
So they moved to Magog, Que. and promised to be back soon,
Kapuskasing didn't care cause they were over the moon.
(Beam that is, UFO spotting site, Where the Provincial Park is.)

Come on I'll show you around Rene Brunelle Provincial Park. This is the south day use beach.
If you didn't guess already, Rene Brunelle Provincial Park was named after someone. Rene Brunelle was an Ontario politician for Cochrane North from 1958 to 1981 and after doing a little research on him, he was a bit of a conundrum.  First, he wanted to allow forestry in some of the largest provincial parks, particularly Quetico, and yet the province still named a provincial park after him?  He came from a family in the pulp and paper business, but later in life ran a tourism company, which, I have to assume, was not deforestation tourism... "On the right you will see where we have chopped down 100 acres of boreal forest to make toilet paper and Kleenex.  Does anyone need a tissue?"  Then, in the end, after serving Ontario for 23 years, he moved to Magog, Quebec; 120 kilometres east of Montreal and 40 kilometres from the Vermont Border.  I guess he got tired of the north? ...or was it the bugs?

A little hard to see but every unidentified speck in this picture is a dragon fly.  There must have been thousands.  Again in the day-use area.
Rene Brunelle Provincial Park is located 30 minutes east of Kapuskasing right above the town of Moonbeam off the northern trans-Canada highway #11.  If you don't know where that is phone your high school geography teacher and ask him or her, when they don't know -- ask google.  It truly is the top of Ontario, unless you use a plane.

Rene Brunelle PP was about to be shut down in 2012 due to low visitation, but the people of the area protested so now the park is open and Moonbeam is on the hook for any shortfalls.  When we arrived at Rene Brunelle we were only staying one night because I figured they only had two trails and I could see everything I wanted in a day and a half.  Well... I was right on the park's two trails:

Vigilance Trail (1.5 km) was a not so leisurely stroll (due to the mosquitoes) around a point on Remi Lake with information signs about the history of bush pilots in the area.  It was beautiful and interesting, but not enough to make us forget about the mosquitoes.  It should take about a half hour (we did it in 10 minutes).

Gene Roddenberry might have something to say about this?  Trail begins and ends at the day use area.
Spruce Lowland Trail (1.6 km) was better when it came to flying pests and was an easy half hour hike with the points of interests being trees, flora, fauna, and an empty bear's den.

They told me it was an empty bear's den, but then why is the barrier rope broken? (Not in the day use area.)
What we didn't know is that right outside the front gate you are connected to 40 plus kilometres of trails for hiking, biking, rollerblading, or in the winter cross-country skiing.  Total amount of Moonbeam Trails hiked -- zero.

For more information :
Remi Lake, the lake Rene Brunelle PP is on, is well known in the area for swimming, fishing, boating of all kinds, and hunting.  Which brings me to my bird picture.

A Blue-winged Teal and next years targets.  Good Luck ducklings.  Picture taken at the day use area.
Rene Brunelle would be a great park to visit if you wanted to do some fishing and didn't worry if you don't own a boat because the provincial park rents them.  Now, you may have noticed a theme running throughout this about whether we were at the Day Use Area or not, that's because if I was staying at this park I would probably never leave the day use area.  It has washrooms, a place to cook, two great beaches, a volleyball court, a park for children, wild life, and a covered eating area.  It's like this park put more time, money, and thought into their day use then their camp sites.  For example, the Camper's Beach looks like this:

Private, yes, but small and not very sandy and not close to any of the campsites.
Versus the Day Use beaches:

This is the north beach for day use.  Private and big and nicely sanded -- but again really not close to the campsites.
Our site was nice, don't get me wrong, but for how far north this campground is I would have hoped for more privacy.  It's not like this provincial park doesn't have the land or waterfront property.  This is the first time (definitely not the last) where the site we stayed at is not on the list of good sites.

Site 87.  We could see our neighbours on both the right and left; not seen in this picture,

I could accept this if the campsite was right on the water, but it isn't.  The good sites at Rene Brunelle are numbers 9, 33, 34, 39, 41, 49, 54, 56, 57, 82-85, the best one being number 88.  None of these are near the beach, but some have views of the lake which is the next best thing.  In summation, Bev and I had a great time at this park, however most of our fun was had at the day use area where we hiked, swam, relaxed, and saw some amazing wildlife.

Dragonfly landed on Bev with its Mayfly lunch in tow.
Well now it's time to say goodbye to Rene and all the merrymaking,
I'd like to thank you folks for kindly dropping in.
I highly recommend this park's locality,
If only it wasn't ten hours away.
(By car that is, straight time with no breaks, and that's from Toronto -- you figure it out from where you're from and unless that's Moonbeam or Kapuskasing it's far.)

Site Cleanliness:  Good.  There was some garbage but nothing that couldn't be cleaned within ten minutes of arriving.

Privacy:  Not great.  Out of 88 campsites only 13 had what I would call adequate privacy.  If it was up to me this is where I would spend money on fixing up the sites.  You could easily fix some of these privacy issues with some well planted trees -- and you have experts in tree planting living as close as next door.  As well they have room to build new sites, even if they were walk-in's.

Hiking and Activities:  Better than expected.  I was saddened to find out there was so much hiking that we didn't get to enjoy.  As well, there are ample boating and fishing opportunities for people who have a little more time.

Park Class: Recreational Park class for all the things you can do here.

Beach Quality or Ease of Getting to the Water:  Beach quality was quite good, but as for ease to getting to the beaches they were quite a distance from any of the campsites.  As far as ease of getting to the water, every site by the water has a path to it which is great for canoeists, but not great for swimming.

Recommended Length of Stay:  I would suggest that if you are going to Rene Brunelle you absolutely book ahead of time to get one of the best sites and stay for at least 5 days.  A couple of days for hiking and a couple of days for fishing. I'm certain you would never get bored.

Overall Impression:  I liked the day use area the most I have ever liked a day use area at any provincial park.  Unfortunately, because it was so good it made the campsites look less desirable.  This would be a great park for a fishing trip.

Rating out of 103:  I'm going for number 58 for the year Rene Brunelle the politician retired.

Again if you're keeping track:

#2 Algonquin
#3 Quetico
#19 Sandbanks
#21 Neys
#22 Wakami Lake
#23 Nagagamisis
#26 Pancake Bay
#30 Chutes
#51.5 Silent Lake
#52 Restoule
#53 Point Farms
#56 Inverhuron
#58 Rene Brunelle
#92 Rainbow Falls
#101 Turkey Point
#102 Bronte Creek

P.S. If you still haven't gotten the song here is a clue, Jed Clampett.