Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Oxtongue Lake - Ragged Falls - Long Lake

Oxtongue Lake - Pen and Ink Sketch   2011
Algonquin begins sometime before one actually arrives at the Park’s entrance. For me personally Algonquin begins with the thought of going, and becomes a reality when we reach Oxtongue Lake, which is near to the village of Dwight and is located several miles to the west of the West Gate.

Over the years we’ve come to know Oxtongue Lake well. Sandy and I have paddled its length, from the rapids at the base of Ragged Falls, to the beaver damn at the inlet at the far south end. For many years we've vacationed at a resort called the Blue Spruce located on the shore of the lake and on occasion we've stayed in a cabin called “A.J.’s”, named after the famed member of Canada's Group of Seven Painters, A.J. Casson. A. J. Casson was friends with the owners of the Blue Spruce Resort, and frequented the resort making many paintings of Oxtongue Lake, as well as Algonquin Provincial Park.

Far End of Oxtongue Lake  Pen & Ink Field Sketch  2000

This one day we paddled down to the south end of the lake, the least developed end, and explored a small creek. On the way back, as we were passing by a small island, I realized that this particular island had been the subject of one of Casson's paintings so we pulled into shore and I made this pen and ink sketch thinking that one day I'd make a painting. The sketch, however, continues to sit in a pile of possibilities waiting for me to make a painting. Perhaps, when I get really old I'll find the time. Just perhaps..........

South End Of Oxtongue Lake - Pen & Ink Field Sketch 2000

When sketching from a canoe it must be done quickly, for if there is even a slight breeze the canoe turns and drifts, and soon you're nowheres near where you started your sketch, and when you look up the scene has changed entirely. I've learned when sketching from the canoe to make a mental image, and to let this be my guide.

There was a time when we'd head up to Algonquin Provincial Park whenever we had a chance. We'd do day trips to do a bit of hiking, or canoeing, and take advantage of every opportunity to make a sketch. This sketch made on May 1st, 1999, was one of these days. While passing by Ragged Falls, or as I've misnamed it Oxtongue Falls, we stopped to make a sketch and to take in the spectacular spring run off. I recall that despite it being May it was very cold and my hands all but froze as I stood beside a barrier on the way up to the top of the falls to make a quick pencil sketch.
Ragged Falls, I should explain, is located in a small park site about a quarter of a mile east from Oxtongue Lake just off of Hwy 60. The Oxtongue River flows out of Tea Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park and empties into Oxtongue Lake. In the spring a lot of water is released from the Park creating rushing rapids, and a spectacular waterfall.

View from the base of Ragged Falls      Graphite Drawing

In the late spring, when the water is a bit warmer and not quite as turbulent, it's a lot of fun to paddle up the river from the lake and play in the current at the base of the falls.

Island -  Oxtongue Lake               Conte Crayon Drawing

I mentioned in the introduction of SHADES OF GREY that I enjoy sketching and drawing with graphite pencils, and pen and ink. I should have mentioned that I enjoy sketching and drawing with whatever is at hand, including conte crayons, charcoal, and watercolour.
One could easily spend an entire summer exploring and sketching Oxtongue Lake, and its surrounding area. One summer, though we had spent years exploring the area we discovered, close by the resort, the Beetle Lake hiking trail.  Despite it being the height of the mosquito season we braved the trail, and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the lake and a small island from above. 

View of the north end of Oxtongue Lake from the Beetle Lake Hiking Trail
Pencil Field Sketch - 2009

Park Lake (formerly known as Long Lake)   Pen and Ink Drawing

As mentioned, we could spend a great deal of time exploring Oxtongue Lake, but Algonquin Provincial Park is huge, and we have but one life time, so it's off up the highway we go past Park Lake, previously known as Long Lake. If you're an artist you'll be tempted, as was I, to stop and make a few sketches, but believe me when I say that Algonquin holds so many similar scenes that you must steel yourself and continue on. Like me, should you ever get tired of sketching and painting in the park then you can come back to Park Lake. Of course, this is hardly likely!

No comments:

Post a Comment