Fathom Five National Marine Park

Canadian province Ontario is relatively flat and does not have any high mountains like the ones in Alberta, British Columbia or even Quebec...

Canadian province Ontario is relatively flat and does not have any high mountains like the ones in Alberta, British Columbia or even Quebec. However, it holds some of the greatest natural treasures in Canada, almost all of them are connected with fresh water. Fathom Five National Marine Park, a federally protected area of Lake Huron north of Tobermory, Ontario is one of those treasures worth visiting. It was the first stop of our summer expedition in Ontario in summer 2015. 

Fathom is a unit of water depth and equals to six feet (approximately 1.8 m). The park's name is based on the Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest': 

"...Full fathom five thy father lies; 
Of his bones are coral made; 
Those are pearls that were his eyes: 
Nothing of him that doth fade..."
The park consists of a number of islands near Tobermory, a northernmost tip of the Bruce Peninsula with the visitor's centre, observation tower and a few hiking trails. 
The view from the observation tower.
Huron is the second-largest Great Lake and has some 30 000 islands. One of them - Manitoulin Island - is the largest freshwater island on the planet. Lake Huron was the first of Great Lakes discovered by early European explorers (French voyageurs). 
Bruce Peninsula divides Lake Huron and its largest bay - Georgian Bay (pictured below) which is sometimes considered to be the sixth of the Great Lakes.
Not always is Lake Huron so calm and undisturbed by large waves. Sometimes it can be brutal. In one of my next articles, I'll tell a story about a deadly storm on the Great Lakes happened in 1913.
Crystal clear water and a bunch of shipwrecks attract divers to the park every summer.
The highlight of the park is Flowerpot Island where you can get by boat, however kayaking or canoeing is also possible. A couple of local boat companies operate in the area. We chose Blue Heron Cruises which has larger glass bottom boats and faster jet boats. Both are fun, however it gets busy on summer weekends, so make sure you book a tour in advance.
Big Tub is a harbor in Tobermory with two shipwrecks and a row of million dollar waterfront cottages. 
Two shipwrecks are Sweepstakes (sunken in 1885) and City of Grand Rapids (burnt and sunken in 1907). 
I highly recommend you take a boat tour with Big Tub as it's an incredible experience. Every day after 5 pm and on Sundays till noon, Big Tub is closed for motor boats so that divers and snorkelers can enjoy shipwrecks as well.  
A small beach at the Big Tub lighthouse (build in 1885) is also a great place to dive and snorkel.
Flowerpot Island with its dolomite walls as seen from the lake. Dolomite is a common rock-forming mineral deposited over time with plants and animals. Can you imagine these rocks are made of shells, corals and trees, and not with a lava as it often happens in nature?
First 'flower pot' appeared on the left.
A second one.
Our boat arrives at the artificial harbor where we are about to start exploring the island.
There is primitive camping with very limited facilities for those who want to stay overnight. Also, there are two hiking trails, neither of which did we make.
These flowerpots are made of an extremely fragile sedimentary rock, so it's forbidden to climb them. Not everyone understands it though. This man climbed down only after I took a picture of him and promised to complain to the park's staff. Unfortunately, Fathom Five National Marine Park, like many other parks in North America, is a victim of mass tourism and too accessible to random people like this feller.
The top of the flower pot was asphalted to save it from moldering.
Flower pot is an open book of a geologist. All these layers took thousands of years to form. 
You may be wondering how these flower pots appeared here. At the end of the latest ice age (10-12 thousand years ago), the water level was above the flower pot. Over time, the water was receding and baring the bottom of the lake. Waves as well as wind and ice flushed out softer rocks from the soil forming these free standing flower pots (happened to be made of harder rocks). 
One of the trails on the island.
Majestic forest.
It's so unusual to see this turquoise-colored water in Canada. 
White cedar trees, one of the oldest trees in Ontario are abundant here.
This cave is also flushed out by water, wind and ice.
Can you spot the pig's face?
Getting back on the big land.

My other posts from the trip across Ontario

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