On a day trip, a four-footed friend reigns supreme, but the real majesty belongs to nature

Visiting a natural reserve park in the depths of winter would not be everyone's idea

of holiday fun, particularly if that park is in southern Ontario, where the average minimum temperature in January can be around -20 C.

So even the colorful language that a friend used as she suggested that we head out of Toronto on a day trip to Algonquin Provincial Park - we could "embrace the beauty of the nature", she says - held little appeal for me. The white icing on this supposedly appetizing cake was two days of heavy snow that had just fallen in the area.