Ontario Parks' interpretive programming: 70 years and still going strong

Ontario Parks’ interpretive programming: 70 years and still going strong

We’ve been offering interpretive programs to visitors for nearly a three quarters of a century. In 2015 alone, more than 393,000 visitors from across the province tuned into our programming.

Our calendar is brimming with hundreds of different programs this summer — spanning stargazing to nature hikes to historical reenactments.

Which one will you choose?

Did you know education is part of our official mandate?

According to Ontario law, our parks must:

provide opportunities for residents of Ontario and visitors to increase their knowledge and appreciation of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage.

interpreter with childOver the years, our interpretive programs went by different names, including “Visitor Services” and “Natural Heritage and Education.” But they’ve always had the same goal: to educate our guests and inspire a love of our province’s natural spaces.

Because education is so important to us, almost all interpretive programming is included in our camping or day-use fees.

Our programs offer something for everyone

interpreter at Six Mile Lake

Ontario Parks’ interpretive programs are a major draw for tourists and a summer staple for camper families. Take a look at the wide range of programs already listed for the season!

Many parks maintain visitor centres

visitor centre
The award-winning French River Visitor Centre tells the stories of this historic waterway in the “Voices of the River” exhibit hall. Various interpretive panels, displays and interactive exhibits take the visitor along the length of the river and through time.

Every visitor centre has a different theme and flavour. Some focus on our cultural history, while others spotlight the natural world. Exhibits tend to be hands-on, inviting guests to participate in the learning process.

Some visitors centres even allow visitors the opportunity to get up-close and personal with wildlife like turtles and snakes.

Signature events

Some of our programs become so popular they become an integral part of a park’s identity:

Algonquin Wolf Howls

Algonquin Wolf Howl

Since the Algonquin Provincial Park Wolf Howls started in 1963, more than 150,000 visitors have spent summer evenings listening to the wolves’ haunting harmonies.

Samuel de Champlain Voyageur Tours

Voyageur Canoe Tour Program at Samuel de ChamplainPP

Experience the life at the height of Canada’s fur trade by paddling a voyageur canoe on the beautiful Mattawa River.

Murphys Point Silver Queen Mine Tours

Silver Queen Mine

Hard hats supplied! Join park interpreters for a 1.5 hour guided hike down the trail and into an early-1900s mica mine.

Bronte Creek Maple Syrup Festival

Guests travel back through time, beginning with a tour of the historic Maple Lane. Park interpreters, dressed in 1890 garb, re-enact life as it might have been 100 years ago.

Who ARE the Ontario Parks interpreters?

Every year, hundreds of park naturalists share their knowledge with visitors. Some work at parks which offer year-round programming, while others come on-board just for the camping season.

Many grew up attending our programs, and were hooked on Ontario’s natural and cultural histories.

NHE leader showing Eastern Fox Snake

Each interpreter has his or her own passion. Some love reptiles. Others birds. Some have a passion for cultural history.

Whether they learned their craft through formal education or years of hands-on research, all are great communicators who love sharing their knowledge with others.

Want to find a program near you?

From concerts to nature hikes, visit our Events Page to discover the perfect program for your next trip!