Lake Wilcox Park
June 26, 2021
The transformation of Lake Wilcox has been exceptionally well executed. Gone is the roadway that once ran dangerously close to the lake’s eastern shore separating bathers from picnicking family members across the narrow road. Decades prior to the area’s revitalization, families flocked here on hot summer weekends. The water quality and the beach conditions became unsafe for public use. The lake’s natural ecosystem could no longer filter out pollutants created by the new homes, traffic and the increased population of the area.
Beginning in 2005 work was started to clean up the lake and remove sources of contamination. Through the process there were years where the lake’s eastern shore was closed off to the public. Today we all enjoy a better designed and safer park.
The 130-metre-long curved suspension bridge carrying pedestrians over Lake Wilcox gives park users a great vantage point to look down into the water and see passing fish. The day I visited I saw a group of Northern Pike racing through the water in what seemed like a playful manner. As they neared the surface of the water, I watched as they would all start moving very fast, sliding over each other in one large mass and then suddenly all stopped and remained still. The loud splashing sounds of the group breaking above the surface of the water attracted many onlookers. We watched them for a while until they eventually swam too far away to see.
Along the walking path you will meet the large bronze Snapping Turtle created by Steve Worthington. It’s very nicely detailed and attracts many to touch it, but be very careful, it can be painfully hot. The size of the turtle acts like a massive heat sink absorbing the sun’s rays.
Animal tracks have been imprinted into the concrete walking path and many quotes are etched into concrete blocks. As you walk the path keep an eye to the ground for more inlays in the concrete. Steel sculptures placed high on pillars represent many local animal species. The pathway isn’t very long but there is so much to see.
Like the steel animal sculptures, steel is used again in the form of panels to represent the formation of Lake Wilcox by the retreating glaciers and to commemorate Oak Ridges’ European settlers.
“For us who have the advantage of knowing more intimately and from a closer distance than they the true feelings of your heart, we readily throw down the hatchet on your word… and give the Tree of Peace that you have erected such strong, deep roots, that neither winds nor storms, nor other misfortune will be able to uproot it. The sun today dissipated the clouds to reveal this beautiful Tree of Peace, which was planted on the highest mountain of the Earth.”KONDIARONK, Huron Chief speaking about the Great Peace of 1701 to 24 Nations
Previous to the European settlers arriving in North America this land was inhabited for millennia by Indigenous Peoples. They were organized into complex, self-governing nations. At Lake Wilcox’s eastern shore an early 14th century Middle Iroquois village and at least two other earlier settlements have been discovered. The 1.2 hectare village was situated where the splash pads, washrooms, playgrounds and parking lot are today.
|splash pads||canoeing||kayaking||wind surfing||skateboard|
Before you arrive at Lake Wilcox Park here are a few things you should know.
Parking is free for residents of Richmond Hill. You must display a permit obtained from the city. Non residents will be asked to use pay parking. Click here for details.
There is no swimming in Lake Wilcox. It is unsupervised, contains high levels of bacteria, and has many sharp items in the water.