Photography in the Whiteshell

Written by Robert Lowdon

Robert Lowdon is an internationally published commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. He spends his time photographing architecture and industrial projects for the most part.

Published January 13, 2017

At one time Whiteshell Provincial Park was a National Park in Canada. It was downgraded in 1930 after an 8 year run with national status (1922). The park was named Bereton Lake which is still inside Whiteshell Provincial park. Whiteshell is located in a transition between the prairie grasslands of southern Manitoba and the Canadian shield of North Western Ontario (also Northern Manitoba).

I like to think I cut my teeth as a landscape photographer in this beautiful environment. The contrast between the agricultural prairies where I grew up and the boreal forest filled with lakes is striking. It is as if, the whole world opens up when you get closer to the Ontario border. See you have to understand that when you grow up on the open prairie, hills alone are very rare, never mind, rocks and cliffs, and lakes and forest. Knowing how to photograph elevation is a valuable tool in a landscape photographer tool box (I don’t like that term, but it seems to work here). That might sound weird and obvious, but it can be really tricky to make the landscape look big. A good landscape photographer should add the proper context, foreground and background. Elevation can be so crucial in photography, but it is often not talked about. Keeping with that theme, I will now move on.

A rainy day a the dock in west hawk lake © robert lowdon

A rainy day a the dock in West Hawk Lake © Robert Lowdon

Visiting The Whiteshell

Whiteshell Provincial Park has a total of 13 main lakes which define the park and its different areas of wilderness. The lakes are as follows: Brereton Lake, Falcon Lake, Caddy Lake, War Eagle Lake, Jessica Lake, Green Lake, White Lake, Big Whiteshell Lake, Betula Lake, Nutimik Lake, Dorothy Lake, Eleanor Lake, Star Lake, Red Rock Lake, and West Hawk Lake.

From a photography standpoint the opportunities for great photographs are endless. There are tons of great sunsets, and landscape to be photographed. Due to the lakes and relatively small elevation gains, there is almost always a clear view of the horizon. This leads to great landscape photographs.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Minnesota refers to itself as the land of 1000 lakes. Yet, Friendly Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes. Maybe we were just to friendly to mention it at the time…

For wildlife photographers there is plenty of opportunity to photograph animals. The park is known to have the following animals: black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, wolves, lynx, otter, marten, fisher, red fox, mink, hares, beavers, bats, skunks, raccoons, muskrats, red squirrels, owls, bald eagles, ruby throated hummingbirds, chickadees, blue jays, grosbeaks, turkey vultures, redpolls, woodpeckers, osprey, loons, ruffed grouse, ducks, Canada geese, snakes, and turtles (according to Wikipedia). I must admit, I have seen a lot of these there at one point, not a lynx though. There was that angry large house cat though, just kidding.

A fast moving river near whiteshell provincial park, manitoba © robert lowdon

A fast moving river near Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba © Robert Lowdon

For visitors just looking for a relaxing weekend vacation, Whiteshell Provincial Park is a great place to camp for the weekend. Various campsites are right on the lake, if you look for them, and economical to boot. I often wonder why more vacationers don’t camp. The cost savings are astounding, and as a camper you are staying right in the park. Two days of peace and quiet are enough to recharge anyone, weary from city life.

Various nature activities are accessible at the Whiteshell. Those would include: Boating, Canoeing, kayaking, cycling, fishing, ice fishing, hiking, horseback riding, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and swimming. I am sure there is more a visitor could get up to, but that seems like enough for now. For a sports photographer, the park gives a great natural backdrop. To my knowledge, a photographer shooting commercial probably would not need a permit for most activities. With larger productions it would most likely be required. It is always to better to check, so don’t blame me if you get in trouble.

Kenora waterfront in winter. © robert lowdon

Kenora waterfront in winter. © Robert Lowdon

I recommend checking out Kenora while you are out there as well. Kenora is small town on the edge of Ontario. The town is surrounded by lakes and has a great waterfront harbor. Kenora is about 30 minutes away from the Whiteshell, depending where a person is located. The town also has a few good restaurants for those who like a good breakfast to start the day.

Originally having the extremely unfortunate name of Rat Portage, Kenora is located in the Lake of the Woods. The town has become a premier boating destination in Ontario. The town has also become a hub for fly in destinations in Northern Ontario. Numerous float planes operate out of the port.

The Whiteshell is under appreciated in my mind. I do often consider it to be capable of being a National Park. I think there is some politics as to why it is not, but it is seriously one of the most beautiful places in Manitoba. I invite any traveler to check it out, you could even sit by this lake pictured above.

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