Facility Profile - October 2008
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Telling the Story

Killbear Provincial Park in Nobel, Ontario

By Shay Bapple


Inside the building, visitors will discover an educational experience with a view. The educational experience is designed to help visitors understand the natural and human changes that the park has gone through. Also, the exhibits inside the center help provide a deeper understand of the biology and geology that the park has to offer. Kenton Otterbein, chief naturalist at the park, said that the exhibits span three floors, and in between each floor are ramps that provide for an open view to the rest of the center and the outside.

On the first floor is an exhibit that depicts the rise and fall of the Great Lakes, giving visitors a bird's-eye view using opaque filters that resemble ice sheets, showing what the lakes looked like all the way up to 4,000 years ago. Plastic bird models are mounted on glass panels with a narrative describing each bird that is indigenous to the area. Other displays include backdrops of wetlands, spring hardwood forests and hemlock forests, which are natural habitats to the area, during three different seasons. This exhibit also includes an interactive computer screen that provides text and interpretive information about the habitats. The center also has pens that house live snakes and reptiles and vegetation.

"Georgian Bay is famous for its 30,000 islands and is one of the best places to go fishing, canoeing and sailing," said Otterbein. "Some of these islands are barren, covered in flat rock; others are home to full ecosystems."

The second floor is full of exhibits that reflect the cultural history of the land. The area's logging industry was instrumental in providing wood during the city building boom in the early 1920s. Georgian Bay was critical in the booming fishing industry from the 1800s until the 1930s. Fishing stations were set up on many of the islands to harvest whitefish that was sent to markets across the United States. The second floor also has a comprehensive marine history and shows how people in the area traded 100 years ago.

The third level of the center is focused toward children with different stations that include puppets of animals that can be played with, storybooks and information about animals. Throughout the building, interactive video footage can be viewed of log cutting and fishing of the area from the 1940s.

With its beautiful views, sustainable design and focus on education, the new visitor center provides a perfect stopping point for park patrons.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Killbear Provincial Park:
www.ontarioparks.com/english/killb.html

HOK Architects: www.hok.com