Frontenac Arch

Where mountains collided, cultures emerged and nature abounds.

Frontenac Arch - Ancient rock outcrops with pine trees

Frontenac Arch – Ancient rock outcrops with pine trees on Opinicon Lake just north of Davis Lock on the Rideau Canal

The Frontenac Arch is a range of ancient granite that continues into the Adirondack Mountains from the Canadian Shield. In 2002 UNESCO recognized the global significance and beauty of this region and designated it as a World Biosphere Reserve of five great forest regions. The  2,700-square kilometre area region supports Canada’s greatest diversity of plant and animal species.

The Canadian Shield, known as “The Bones of the Mother” in local Mohawk traditions, was a massive range of towering mountains. Over the millenia, ice and weather scoured these mountains down to their roots. This rock formation is thought to be the oldest in the world.

Driving through the area, the flat and plain countryside suddenly erupts into rolling hills and rugged cliffs, topped with windswept pines. Rivers and wetland valleys created tranquil lakes and creeks. These natural migration routes became trade and migration paths for First nations peoples who later guided explorers, traders and nation-builders into the heart of the continent, and beyond.

These cultural and ecological riches were key among reasons for the designation in Canada of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, by UNESCO. The designation celebrates the global significance of the region, where the Thousand Islands are the Biosphere’s front door and the Rideau Canal, now celebrated as a World Heritage Site, is a central corridor. All who live and visit here, and who cherish its character, share responsibility in the stewardship of one of our Earth’s most precious landscapes.


Rarely do UNESCO designations coincide. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve encloses the southern half of the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site. Today there is much to see and enjoy in and around these combined areas.

(Summarized from files on Wikipedia, UNESCO, Frontenac Bioreserve, Explore the Arch and Parks Canada web sites)