canoe on lake with trees, OP125 logo

2018 is Ontario Parks’ 125th Anniversary!

That’s 125 years of pitching tents, crackling campfires, mouth-watering s’mores, breathtaking sunsets, star-strewn nights, and unforgettable adventures.

It all started in 1893 with the creation of Canada’s first provincial park, Algonquin. Today, Ontario Parks protects 340 provincial parks, which encompass just under 8% of Ontario, an area larger than Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined!

We invite you to celebrate our anniversary all year with special events, cultural heritage programs, stewardship activities, a concert series, and a series of legacy projects. Make 2018 the year to visit the stunningly beautiful landscapes of our province, carry on traditions, and make new memories.

What’s happening?

Then and now galleries

We’ve loaded some neat historical photos onto our website. Click through to drag the slider back and forth for a then-and-now look at your favourite parks!

old photo of train spliced with pine forest
Algonquin Provincial Park – circa 1913 and 2017 seen at Cache Lake.

Stay tuned to our blog for more then-and-now content throughout 2018.

Timeline

How did Ontario Parks grow from one park to over three hundred? Visit our interactive timeline to learn more about the history of Ontario’s provincial park system.

map with historical slider showing creation dates of parks

Special events

Touring across the province, singer song-writer, David Archibald will be visiting 30 parks. David Archibald will be performing brand new songs that celebrate Ontario Parks’ natural and cultural history. Stay tuned for tour dates and locations.

Wakami Wailers
The Wakami Wailers

Long-time camper faves “The Wakami Wailers” are named after the northern Ontario park where the group of musicians met as park staff in the late 1980s. The group will be performing new music this July.

Ontario Parks is rich in art history. From Indigenous artists to the Group of Seven, the landscapes of provincial parks inspire the creation of outstanding works of art. An exciting new art-based program designed to connect people with nature through hands-on art activities, will be offered in parks across the province.

Person sketching

The public will be invited to give back, learn, and participate in stewardship programs to help protect biodiversity in provincial parks. Stewardship programs include BioBlitz events, invasive species removal, and wildlife monitoring to name a few.

kids taking part in bioblitz
2017 BioBlitz at Sleeping Giant

Parks will be announcing dates and details on the special OP125 events page. Stay tuned!

Donations program

Many Ontarians aren’t aware that our provincial park system relies on admission and user fees to fund the experience visitors receive when they explore these parks, and that 100% of the fees that are collected go directly back into the Ontario Parks system.

For example, the small fee you pay to enjoy Algonquin Provincial Park goes directly back into funding the amenities and services — rest stations, picnic areas and campsites — you enjoy while visiting the park.

User fees also pay for Ontario Parks planning, protection, research and education initiatives.

In celebration of the 125th anniversary, Ontario Parks is launching an online donations program. The public will be invited to give back to parks by donating to a series of legacy projects.

screencapture of donations webpage, option to give to different projects

Each legacy project focuses on making improvements to accessibility, trails, interpretive displays, or recreational facilities in provincial parks.

Legacy projects will take place in:

Travelling exhibit

travelling display

A travelling exhibit will make its way around Ontario! The exhibit highlights and celebrates Ontario Parks’ achievements in protection, recreation, education, and science over the past 125 years. It will be hosted at several park visitor centres throughout 2018.

Special merchandise line

shirts, pennants, bottles and mugs

Nature lovers can show off their parks pride with an Ontario Parks vintage-themed merchandise line. It will be available in park stores next spring.

Digital sharing and storytelling

Special offers, blogs, and a social media series will unfold throughout 2018 to share our history and provide platforms for the public to share their stories and memories of Ontario Parks.

For more information, visit: OntarioParks.com/op125