A tale of star cross’d plovers

In today’s post, Marina Opitz, Discovery leader at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, regales us with shorebird drama of Shakespearean proportions. Thanks to Neal Mutiger for photographing our leading avian actors.

First, let us set the scene for our dramatic tale.

Picture an empty beach, orange sunrise gleaming across the waves, when two solitary plovers lock eyes from across the wrack line. It is love at first sight.

However, if we have learned anything from the immortal Bard, it is that not all romantic tales have a happy ending. And so we start on our path to eventual heartbreak…

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How to beat the crowds at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park is the busiest provincial park in the province, receiving over 1.5 million visitors every year! Home to the world’s longest freshwater beach, Wasaga boasts 14 km of pristine sand, which makes it a hot spot for summer activity.

This also means that our park can get extremely busy, and often reaches capacity on hot summer days. We are also currently experiencing high water levels, limiting our beachfront across all 14 km.

Our park is unique within the provincial park system as it is the only provincial park that is fully integrated within a town. This can be confusing for our visitors.

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Driftwood: shaping shorelines and completing communities

For a while, park staff have been wondering: why do some of our guests who come to visit natural environments feel compelled to leave their mark on that beach, waterfall, or lookout after they’ve left?

At MacGregor Point Provincial Park, we’ve noticed some changes being made to our shorelines by well-meaning sun-seekers who visit our beach for a short time, but leave behind structures made of driftwood.

Staff in our park and others have disassembled several driftwood forts upon discovering them on our beaches, which can be a dangerous task.

Let’s talk about why we’d prefer our visitors to leave driftwood where it lies, and some fun things you can do at the beach instead of building forts.

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Water safety at Bon Echo

The famous Mazinaw Lake at Bon Echo Provincial Park attracts tons of visitors every year.

We love to see our visitors enjoy beginner friendly canoe routes or swimming in Joeperry Lake and Mazinaw Lake, however we want you to partake in water activities safely.

Here are some precautions to ensure you explore Bon Echo safely:

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Water safety at Sibbald Point

Welcome to Sibbald Point Provincial Park, located on Lake Simcoe! Our park is well-known for its wonderful boating, swimming, and fishing (not to mention its beautiful sandy beach!).

Whether you’re a parent, friend, sibling, cousin, or dog, we want you to be safe and wear a PFD when enjoying the water.

Here’s a few water safety reminders. Please read and share:

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How to plan your trip to Sibbald Point

Located on Lake Simcoe, Sibbald Point Provincial Park is a great spot for day-use. The park has a sandy beach and shallow water perfect for kids.

But during the hot summer months, the park can get extremely busy.

At peak times, visitors might wait over two hours to make it inside the gate. Many weekends, Sibbald Point hits capacity and can’t welcome any more visitors until later in the day.

We really hate to turn away visitors, especially knowing many have driven several hours to get here.

Planning a trip to Sibbald Point? Check out our top tips for a fun and frustration-free visit:

  1. How busy is the park right now?
  2. When is the best/worst time to visit?
  3. How long is the wait on busy days, like summer weekends?
  4. I made a camping reservation? Do I wait in the same line?
  5. The park’s already full / the line’s too long…now what?
  6. Where can I get lunch?
  7. What are the park hours?
  8. How much does it cost to get in?
  9. Can I stay overnight?
  10. Where can I park?
  11. What kind of accessibility does the park provide?
  12. Can I rent a canoe or other watercraft?
  13. Can I rent a picnic shelter?
  14. Can I bring my dog?
  15. What should / shouldn’t I pack?
  16. Is your beach safe to swim in?
  17. Does Sibbald Point have ticks or poison ivy?
  18. What else should I know?

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Beach basics

Ontario Parks beaches are prime summer destinations, particularly on weekends with beautiful weather. Our beaches welcome tens of thousands of visitors every year, and we’re proud to be part of so many happy memories.

However, especially now — when physical distancing and responsible park use are so critical — we’re asking for your help!

Here are our top 10 tips to help keep our parks safe and protected, and practice good beach etiquette:

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How to beat the crowds at Sandbanks

Sandbanks Provincial Park is one of the busiest parks in the province, welcoming over 750,000 visitors every summer!

Sandbanks full parking lot signsAt peak times, visitors might wait over two hours just to make it inside the gate. Many summer days — especially weekends — Sandbanks hits capacity and can’t welcome any more visitors.

We really hate to turn away visitors, especially knowing many have driven several hours to get here.

Planning a trip to Sandbanks? Check out our top tips for a fun and frustration-free visit:

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The trouble with balloons

Today’s post comes from David Bree, our Senior Natural Heritage Education Leader at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, and passionate protector of Ontario’s shorebirds.

I don’t know Jason. But I do know he turned six sometime in the last two months and he had a wonderful party with cake, presents and balloons, surrounded by friends and family.

I hope he had a good time, but I wonder if he knows the legacy of his sixth birthday — from my perspective — is unsightly litter, extra work and possibly untimely death.

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