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When my husband and I first arrived in Toronto in 2014, we fell in love with the city and the busy downtown. However, occasionally we craved for some greenery and peace. Fortunately, Algonquin Provincial Park is not far from Toronto and gives us lots of options for our nature escape.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park located in the province of Ontario. As I said, it is quite close to Toronto about two hours drive from it.

You could spend a lifetime exploring the lakes of Algonquin Provincial Park. Did you know, Algonquin Provincial Park has 2400 lakes?

Getting there

Algonquin Provincial Park has about 2400 lakes. So, we had a lot of choices to say the least. You can get to After some searching, we settled on Oxtongue lake , mainly because it was accessible by bus. Parkbus runs a bus route from Toronto to Algonquin Lakes starting from May to October. It has stops in Lake Opeongo, Pog Lake, Canoe Lake, Wolf Den Bunkhouse and Oxtongue Lake. The tickets cost $88 per adult for the roundtrip.

Oxtongue Lake



Strictly speaking, Oxtongue lake is not part of Algonquin Provincial Park. It lies just outside the boundaries of the park and is the first stop on the Parkbus route.

There are some cottages and resorts in the area which are good. We chose a resort which had excellent access to the lake that gave us unlimited use of their canoes. For people who want to just stop over at Oxtongue lake to spend an hour or two on the lake, there is a Algonquin Outfitters on lake that rents out canoes.

My First Canoeing Experience

The picture shows three canoes, two red and one yellow , on the lakeshore of Oxtongue lake
Canoes on the lakeshore

We spent the first day just relaxing on the lake. We loved seeing people enjoying themselves on the lake on their canoes and water scooters and wanted to try it too. So, the next day, we set out to explore the lake with a canoe provided by the resort. This was our first canoeing experience. Both my husband and I don’t know how to swim, so we are very cautious when it comes to water. We thought that the life jackets, that the resort gave us, would give us a feeling of safety.

The picture shows Oxtongue lake at sunset. The lake looks almost black in this light
Oxtongue lake at sunset

We gingerly pushed the canoe into the lake. I got into the canoe first as my husband pushed the canoe till the boat was completely in shallow water. Once we both were in, we used our oars to push the boat gently away from the lakeshore. This caused the canoe to rock a little. The unfamiliar rocking movement of the canoe sent a shiver down my spine. I peered into the black depths of the deeper parts of the lake and imagined falling into it. That was it! I panicked. I sat there frozen like a rock and refused to go any further. My husband had one look at my face and agreed to quit.

Trying Again

The picture shows the beautiful display of colors during sunset at Oxtongue lake
Beautiful sunset at Oxtongue Lake

For two days following that incident, I didn’t venture back on the lake. We spent a comfortable time relaxing on the lounge chairs beside the lake and visiting the nearby Oxtongue Ragged Falls . On the third day, I got the nerve to try again. My husband suggested that since I was afraid of the deep parts of the lake, we should just stick close to the shore till we get used to the canoe; I agreed. So, for an hour we just rowed the canoe back and forth on a small area close to the lake shore which was not too deep. From the corner of my eye, I could see people on the lake shore looking at us like we were crazy. I decided to ignore them and just carry on. Slowly but surely, I got used to the rocking movement of the boat.

Success!

As an hour passed by, my confidence and comfort grew. We moved cautiously away from the shore and on to the middle of the lake. Surprisingly, now that we were in the middle, the canoe didn’t rock as much. It was actually a very pleasant feeling; the canoe actually glided easily and smoothly. The remaining shreds of my fear were replaced by a transcendent feeling of pure joy and excitement. That day, we explored the lake for 4 hours! We even explored the tiny islands on the lake and marveled at the wildlife we saw along the way. It was a fabulous experience!

Beginnings are often difficult, don’t give up! Wait till you get to the middle and you will enjoy it till the end.

This experience taught me an important life lesson. We are afraid of new experiences because we are afraid to leave our comfort zones. We imagine all kinds of perils and convince ourselves that we are better off not doing it. On the other hand, if we dare to leave our comfort zones, we may experience a happiness far greater than before. The rocking of the canoe was uncomfortable and scary. Once I accepted the discomfort and got used to it, it posed no barrier and I could move forward. The middle of the lake was great and an experience I will never forget. Beginnings are often difficult, don’t give up! Wait till you get to the middle and you will enjoy it till the end. A bit cheesy…I know, but true!

This canoeing experience is the reason behind this blog. It’s still the beginning. I am waiting for it to get fun.

Hike To Lake Agnes Tea House From Lake Louise

Lake Agnes Tea house is located beside this beautiful lake. Hike upto to this beautiful lake from Lake Louise
Hike to Lake Agnes from Lake Louise. Pic Credit: kwluth (Pixabay)

Lake Louise is a famous lake and is high up on the list of the best things to do in Canada. However, many people don’t know that there’s another lake in close proximity – Lake Agnes (shown in the picture above). Beside this lake there’s also a tea house name after the lake called, Lake Agnes Tea House. You can reach the tea house through a hiking trail which starts from Lake Louise. Find all the information you need about this hike below:

History of Lake Agnes Tea House

Did you know, Lake Agnes Tea House is the oldest tea house in Canada? The original log building was constructed by Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR) as a stop over for hikers in 1901. This was later converted to a tea house in 1905. However, the tea house that stands next to Lake Agnes today is not the same log building built by CPR. The original log structure was replaced in 1981. Fortunately, you can still find some original items of the old tea house like the tables, the chairs, and the windows.

Hiking Trail Information

The hiking trail starts from the lakeshore of Lake Louise. It is easy to spot the sign boards on the lake that point to the trail. You can also see the path leading up to the hiking trail in the video posted at the top of the post. Here are the details of the hiking trail:

Distance : 3.8 km one way
Time Taken: 1-2 hrs one way
Elevation Gained: 400m
Altitude: 2135m

Hours and Days Of Operation

The tea house is open from June 4 to Oct 10 from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Don’t let the 3.8 km info fool you. I routinely walk about 8 km everyday and I thought that this hike would be a piece of cake. I was so wrong! The lack of oxygen due to the altitude and the steady rise in elevation had me huffing and puffing for air every few minutes. Make sure you take adequate breaks and keep a bottle of water handy. Because of the many breaks I took, I reached the top in 2 1/2 hrs.

Personally, I think I was one of the few who was experiencing so much discomfort from the elevation. I was stopping every few minutes on the way up and had a hard time breathing through my nose. I was a mouth breather all the way up. Other people around me seemed to be walking more easily, some, with children on their shoulders! I don’t know how they do it. I was thoroughly ashamed of my fitness levels. You may have an easier hike than me. If you try it, let me know how your experience was in the comments.

Hiking Trail

Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House from Lake Louise.
Hiking Trail From Lake Louise.

The first part of the trail is quite monotonous and there isn’t much to see as a heavy cover of trees on the lake side blocks everything. At times, the trees part a bit and the brilliant blues and greens of Lake Louise shine through. These are also good spots to rest up and click a few pics on the up-hill climb.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake is a small circular lake on the way to Lake Agnes
Mirror Lake on the way to Lake Agnes

When you cross the 3.0 km mark, you will come across a small circular lake called the Mirror Lake. I guess it’s named so because it looks like a hand mirror when viewed from top. It’s tempting to just sit there for a while and call it a day but I promise you, a better view awaits you. So, get your legs moving!

The Waterfall near Lake Agnes

Waterfall on the hiking trail to Lake Agnes tea house
Waterfall At Lake Agnes

You know you are near the end of the hike when the sound of falling water reaches your ear. Soon, you’ll see the small waterfall created by the overflowing water from Lake Agnes. I’m sure you will pause here for more photos and videos like I did. Only, the promise of tea and cookies made me move from this spot and climb up the stairs that lead to the Lake Agnes Tea House.

Lake Agnes Tea House


If you go during peak tourist time, the tea house is usually crowded. I was very lucky to bag a seat quickly. I lost no time in ordering, a pot of tea, chocolate cookies and an Apple Crumble, which is a local favorite. There were lunch options and sandwiches on the menu but at this point all I could see was the Desserts section :).

While I waited for my order, I read the story of the tea house that was proudly displayed on the back of the menu. It said that the tea house had no electricity and everything on the menu was freshly prepared everyday. The staff, which mainly consisted of students on their summer break, live at the tea house during the summer months. I was in awe of the staff when I read that they hike up the same trail, that I struggled to complete, 2-4 times every week with goods and supplies. I was so impressed, I tipped my waiter 50% and I thought it was more than well deserved. Please remember to bring Canadian/US Cash or travellers cheques with you. Your debit/credit cards won’t work here.

After the tea, you can relax by Lake Agnes, named after the First Lady – Lady Agnes McDonald, and enjoy the crystal clear quality of the water. Frankly, I think that this lake should have been named the Mirror Lake as the mountains surrounding the lakes, on a clear day, are perfectly reflected on the still surface of the lake. The reflection of the mountains makes for some wonderful Insta-worthy photos.

Further Journeys

Further, if you have the energy, you can continue to Little Beehive, Big Beehive and Devil’s Scree for some breathtaking views of Lake Louise and Mirror Lake . However, if your fitness levels match mine, you may just prefer to head back to Lake Louise and call it a day! if you plan to do this hike or have hiked some other beautiful trails, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

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Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House From Lake Louise
Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House