No one quite knows exactly how long Eagle Lake has been around for but according to an area historian, Algonquin natives were the first inhabitants of the Mikisew Park area.
It is said that the Algonquin’s had a canoe route from Georgian Bay to Lake Nipissing which would pass through Deer Lake to the Distress River to Eagle Lake and then they would continue on to Commanda Lake and eventually reach Lake Nipissing.
When it comes to pioneer settlers, Henry Tough and William Thornton Smyth took up settlement in the area now known as Mikisew Provincial Park. Throughout the years, several sawmills were located along the lake and in the south end of Eagle Lake, logs can still be spotted in the water.
After Henry Tough’s death, the farm was handed down to his son Bill. His brother and sister stayed on at the farm, but Bill left and started up three sawmills. One on Eagle Lake, another on Deer Lake and one on Spring Lake. Eventually Bill Tough sold the farm to Charlette and Harry Smith. Charlette was the school teacher in the area for a few years.
The Smith’s sold the land to the Province of Ontario in 1957, which was when it became a public park and seven years later Mikisew officially became a provincial park in 1964.
Modern day Mikisew
Visitors to the park can now enjoy three shallow sandy beaches, boating and paddling around several small islands on Eagle Lake, hiking through beautiful hardwood forest and past vibrant ponds and wetlands, letting their dog run wild at the leash free dog park and beach, camping among maple and red pine forests and enjoying sports like disc golf, volleyball, basketball, or horseshoes.
Legend has it…
There is a native legend that an Algonquin princess used to paddle from Mikisew to an island beyond the park, but one day she had an accident and drowned. Legend states certain times of the year you can hear a lamenting wail of her lover in the wind, who is said to have built a stone cairn in her memory.
Legend drawing by Ella Sheridan