My family has been going to Sandbanks since before I was born and I am now 28 and have continued the tradition every summer, but the most memorable summer was in 1996. I met the man of my dreams on the beach that hot, hot summer. Jason and I had both “grown up” in the park. Every summer since I was 13, I can remember a group of boys that always seemed to be sleeping on the beach, but they didn’t even notice me. When I was 17, my Mom said I should go and play volleyball with the kids up there – especially the boy in khaki shorts. So I sat by the nets and sure enough the boy in khaki shorts sat down next to me. After dating for some time we decided to get married. Five years later I still love that boy in khaki shorts.
I was born in 1948 and my family used to vacation at Whippoorwill Lodge at Bon Echo. We had a cabin and the staff at the main house would sound a triangle on the porch to call us to eat. The owner’s twin girls would sing songs and host the guests. There was a small trading post at the highway and the owner’s son showed me large blocks of ice in July, which were cut in the winter from the lake and stored under tarps in a dugout earthen barn. We also explored abandoned mica mines. But best of all is that I learned what it was like to hook big smallmouth bass. Wow… I remember that.
Rochester, New York
In late June 2005, I found myself “blind” in the Blind Bay area of Killbear. I was caught returning from a shower in the wee hours of the morning with a broken flashlight. It was an overcast night, with no light peaking through the tree canopy and there were no campfire beacons to help guide the way back to my waterfront campsite. It was a slow trip in complete darkness and was scary at first. After more than a couple of wrong turns into the bush, I stumbled into the low glow cast by my nearly spent campfire. Remarkably, this equipment failure episode opened my eyes (and ears) to unaided night travel by foot. I discovered it’s fun and not always as challenging as my first “lightless” venture. Next time you venture out to the comfort station at night, unplug your MP3 player and try leaving the light off. Rediscover the other meaning of “travel light”.
My fiancé and I went to Arrowhead in late fall of 2005. As soon as we were inside the park, a lone deer crossed the road in front of us on the way to our campsite. We were excited already! We got to the site, quickly set up camp and had some dinner, as light was fading fast. When we got up in the morning, it was freezing. We went for walks and rented a canoe and paddled the river to the waterfall. It was amazing, beautiful, and like nothing I have ever seen. The next night was even colder. When we woke in the morning, there was frost everywhere. We packed up and visited our favourite places in the park before hitting the road home. As we rounded a corner on the way out, again a lone deer crossed the road in front of us and stopped and looked at us, as if to say “Bye, thanks for coming”. It made our trip one of the best ever. We are planning a trip with a few friends to revisit Arrowhead as soon as the park reopens in the spring.
I had the opportunity to use Presqu’ile Park in the fall of 1987 and 1988 for several weekends right up until late December, for duck hunting. Lots of birds come through at that time of year. Each day we would see Bald Eagles circling in the air over the sandbars. Often there would a great big Snowy Owl sitting on the sandbars standing out like a lantern in the dark, with its white feathers on the dark background of the sand. A gannet came through one afternoon and it landed out in what was probably the largest raft of diving ducks I have ever seen, numbering well over a thousand birds. On the down time or while warming up we often discussed the history of the park, and how from the donation of one of the landowners of the time, the park was expanded. The added condition of the grant of land was that hunting would always be allowed in the park, as the owner respected the outdoors and appreciated the recreation opportunities of his land. I look forward to my children have their own memories of Presqu’ile, including watching the fall flights of the migrants.
In the summer of 2004, three of my friends and I decided to embark on our first road trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park. When we arrived at the park, we could not believe our eyes. It was absolutely magnificent! We had a spot just 2 sites from the beach. (After all the worry about selecting a site online with only squares and triangles to guide us, it turned out we’d chosen quite well.)
During our 5 days at the park, we hiked a good 30 km, saw the best sunsets and caught glimpses of the northern lights flashing in the night sky. From the nightly campfires and beach strolls to the outhouses and mosquitoes, there isn’t anything that would make me want to take back the time I spent up north with my friends.
New Dundee, Ontario
My sisters Marisa, Miranda and I went camping with my parents at Sibbald Point, in Sutton. We had great weather, spent long days at the beach, had huge ice cream cones and made sandcastles. At night, we got into our jammies, made popcorn on the campfire and went to the amphitheatre to watch a movie. We also did a craft. We roasted marshmallows and had a great sleep in the tent. The next day was my Mom’s birthday so we went into Sutton and Jackson’s Point and looked through all the antique shops my Mom loves and bought some souvenirs. We had lunch and took lots of pictures and bought my Mom a cake. Then we had a big BBQ at the campsite. We have a lot of great memories of Sibbald Point as we have been there 3 or 4 years now and keep wanting to go back. We think the park is very safe and fun and has great ice cream. We love SIbbald Point and we think other kids will, too.
The other day, I was driving my son, 9, to school when out of the blue he says with the biggest grin, “I want to go back to Kilbear again next summer.”
“Pardon,” I said, surprised at where that came from.
“Well I want to climb the rocks again and jump off a higher spot than I did last time,” he added. “That was cool wasn’t it Dad? Jumping off the rocks into the water.”
Three months following our week-long adventure to Kilbear my son suddenly had a great memory of our trip to a provincial park pop into his head. That’s why Ontario has such a great reputation for its parkland. Experiences that last a lifetime.
My husband and I have camped at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park every year since 1995. Some years we had a seasonal site (until the program was discontinued). The memory of every new season dawning and how the flora and fauna changed in the park are things I will always remember.
In the springtime, the tumble of rapids under the bridge linking “Jing” to “Bab” was a sight to behold, the wildflowers starting to peak their heads, beautiful violets all over the place, deer and fox roaming freely throughout the park, the sound of bullfrogs at night. We would set up on Victoria Day weekend to the mating rituals of the hummingbirds and I would walk the camp roads in wonder and anticipation of a new season.
Summer brought the families and tourists and camper programs, like the “Spirits of the Mattawa.” The days lasted forever and we were awed by beautiful sunsets as we stood on the bridge soaking in the unmistakable campfire scents.
Fall would bring a nip in the air, spectacular foliage along the banks of the Amable du Fond, kayaking down the Mattawa with the morning fog and having the bears rip down our porch room. And with Thanksgiving and the last campfire, we would pack away our trailer, take a last walk by the dock, hear the last cries of the loons and would say goodbye to our beloved SAM for another year.
We drove over 6 hours from Toronto to North Bay, getting lost along the way. We ran out of gas and then the car started to overheat… and we forgot a lot of things. But after the endless delays we finally got to Restoule. We got a campsite- set up… and it got dark. My friend made a fire and started cooking dinner, as I scouted out the beach area. We ate and then sat at the beach playing truth and dare. Then we went back to the tent we told stories and roasted marshmallows. It was great fun! So worth getting lost. We didn’t even sleep that night. We got so caught up telling stories that before we knew it the sun was coming up. As we looked out on the lake that morning we saw the light hitting the water and there was a moose and her calf in the distance. It was the most amazing sight. I never in a million years thought that I’d see a moose!
I have many happy memories of camping in the rain at various Ontario Parks as a child. That makes the memory of my children playing on the slides and jumping in the puddles while camping at Rock Point so much better. The summer of 2004 was a very wet one but it didn’t stop us from taking nature hikes or playing in the waves. We’ve enjoyed camping at Rock Point for many years and each year we find new ways to enjoy the park. Last year we visited the banding station. We found it very interesting and the kids loved helping out. Seeing the birds that close is a memory that I know they’ll enjoy for a lifetime!
Leslie S. Kay-Bigelow
Niagara Falls, ON
Having been a birder all my life, I had set a goal of seeing 20 species of warblers in a day. 19 species of shorebirds on Sept 19/02 seemed poetic enough â?? but nothing compared to May 14/05. After a rainy night, a misty morning unveiled 22 warbler species between Presqu’ile’s lighthouse and calf pasture! For a naturalist, there is no greater thrill and sharing it with my Dad made it all the better.
I have seen old movies of my parents when they were dating at Presqu’ile. Then my childhood summers spent here. Now my four children are here. There are so many memories
I was four when my father and grandfather first took me to Algonquin Park. Seventeen years have passed since then and I have been back numerous times. My Grandpa has since passed away, but Algonquin always reminds me of him, his burnt pancakes, getting lost, exploring the woods. Algonquin will always hold my fondest memories of this man.
Port Hope, Ontario