Exploring Northern Ontario

I turned 38 years old on Friday, August 25th. Every year I try to take a trip somewhere new. It was my trip to Jasper, Alberta, I made for my 36th birthday that changed the direction of my life and art. Last year was Lake Superior. This year was Killarney (and Georgian Bay, and the French River).

Why Killarney Provincial Park this year? Because last year I was introduced to it very briefly and wanted an opportunity to return and explore. Every time I go north, I feel like a piece of me gets left behind. When I drive there, I’m full of excitement and inspiration; and when I drive home I cry my heart out on the highway. Every. Time.

This little adventure made me realize that along with my project of “Canada: The Provinces and Territories” there is going to be a side project. Smaller canvases inspired by the North, lots of rocks and trees.


The timing of this trip for my birthday weekend could not have been better. We set up camp, went for a stroll, and discovered there was a bluegrass band playing that night! Whiskey Jack, and we could hear them from our site by the fire. The next night there was a professor from OCAD (that’s right, the art university in Toronto I dropped out of many moons ago), talking about “The Land Is A Feeling.” He even had a photograph of Fox Island in his slideshow- which is the Island I painted after my trip last year!

killarney complete
I now know this is “Fox Island”



This was a four hour hike, 2 hours up and 2 hours down. It was TERRIFYING. I was scared walking in, through dense stinky forest. It didn’t feel uplifting or inspiring like my usual hikes- it felt dark and dangerous. Like a wild animal would jump out at you any second. After awhile the forest opens up, and the land becomes more rocky, and you start hiking through deep gullies. As you get higher, the air smells better, the warm sun starts to heat up the pine needles and I could see the landscapes ahead of me. That is when I started connecting with the land.

We reached a plateau, and I thought we were at the end of the hike. We could see “the crack” off in the distance, and Georgian Bay and George Lake; But the markers continued us forward, and other people started passing us on the path. Once again I was terrified- we had to climb THROUGH the crack?! This was a steep incline of fallen boulders we were climbing. Jagged rocks, and open holes. I thought I might die; But I did not. In fact, climbing up turned out to be way easier then climbing down (I wished my legs were just a few inches longer that day).

When we got to the top of the crack, it was pretty incredible. Rolling hills and multiple lakes. We had a snack and took in the view. Chatted with a few others who made it up there (and a couple who were on their way back from 8 days of outback hiking and camping). Climbing down was a full body workout. I had to use my arms more then my legs to lower down rock by rock. My ass was black from sliding down giant boulders. My knees were shaking and I was in total shock by what we had accomplished. If you’re up for the challenge, I highly recommend doing this hike/trip.


Beyond the Provincial Park, is the tiny village of Killarney on Georgian Bay. We parked and walked out to the lighthouse, on the peak of the rocks. Wild winds and choppy dark water, rolling pink rocks and famous Jack Pines. My heart felt so full. Georgian Bay hits me in the feels just like Jasper. Something about these lands… they just speak to me. Inspire me. “Force” me to paint more!

And so, on that note, it’s time to go buy some new canvases, and start this side project along with the big Canada Project… not only is my heart full, my hands are full! Wish me luck friends.

Published by JenniferAnneBurke

Life-long yogini and artist. Child and Youth Worker. Passionate about Canadian road-tripping, camping, nature, and living life to the fullest.

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