Today’s post comes from Zuzanna, Alysa, Lyle, Jackson, and Emily: five friends who applied to Ontario Parks across the province and by a twist of fate, all got jobs at the same provincial park, 1,500 km (or 16 hours) from home!
In early January, we applied to work at parks across the province. Being friends with connections in Southern Ontario, we were yearning for seasonal jobs characterized by adventure and wilderness.
After numerous interviews and phone calls, one by one we received job offers from the same park: Quetico Provincial Park.
Once he reviewed our resumes and interviews, our senior operations technician discovered the friendships and previous connections that we had to one another.
Upon consideration of our unique backgrounds, he placed us in distinct departments to align with our individual strengths.
We became five friends in five departments, all at the same provincial park.
Zuzanna soars the sky in the operations department
When Zuzanna landed the role as an operations assistant, she didn’t know that she was in for a sky-high surprise!
In her role, she traveled by floatplane once a week to service the park’s four remote entry stations and got to soar above the park’s pristine landscapes.
This summer, she was the go-to person for anything anyone needed at the park.
With her impeccable organizational skills, initiative, and willingness to help, she supported the operations of each of the park’s departments.
Alysa paddles through paradise with the interior operations department
Alysa, the adventurous soul among us, embraced her role as a canoe route technician with unwavering enthusiasm.
With a deep love for camping and paddling, she embarked on incredible eight-day canoe trips and floatplane expeditions to maintain the park’s portages.
She enjoyed her summer paddling in the interior of Quetico and along the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (adjacent to Quetico on the American side of the Canada–USA border), where she engaged with campers from far and wide.
Each day, as she watched the trees dance and listened to the loons sing, she would hear herself say, “I can’t believe I am getting paid right now.”
Lyle hears conservation calling in the biology department
Lyle was hired by the Quetico Foundation as the park biologists’ assistant.
After graduating with a degree in marine biology earlier this year, he was able to use the knowledge acquired through his education to conduct bat, salamander, and songbird research in the interior of the park.
Throughout the summer, he radiated positivity and smiled ear to ear wherever he went.
Jackson’s high-vis heroism in the maintenance department
Jackson embraced his role as a maintenance student, eager to weed-whack and keep the park’s facilities in tip-top shape.
He cleaned comfort stations, delivered firewood, and acted as a mentor for younger maintenance students who started later in the season.
Outside of work hours, he indulged in two of his favourite hobbies: fishing in the park’s serene lakes and defeating other staff house residents in a game of Super Smash Bros.
Emily’s inspired interactions in the gate department
Prior to this summer, Emily had never been camping and longed to experience the outdoors.
She embraced the outdoor lifestyle with open arms, going on backcountry trips, fishing, stargazing and not wasting a single minute within nature.
Emily’s newfound passion was evident in the way she interacted with campers as a gate attendant at the Dawson Trail Campground Entry Station.
Her deep connection with nature shone through as she shared her knowledge of the park’s wonders, inspiring visitors to appreciate and protect its precious ecosystems.
The staff house at Quetico is situated on French Lake and features a fire pit, floating dock, and large yard.
All summer, the staff house echoed with laughter and stories from the day.
We cooked together, ate together, and planned sunset swims and movie nights.
Every day when the sun got low, we would all stop what we were doing and run to enjoy the sunset.
We took overnight trips to other provincial parks and Minnesota, and created a polaroid wall to commemorate our adventures.
We participated in park staff traditions like Christmas in July, which Alysa and Zuzanna were eager to share with the rest of the staff.
We all took part in a Secret Santa — even the staff who lived at remote entry stations participated!
We set up a Christmas tree and cooked a “bush-meal” Christmas dinner that included instant potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and honey ham.
Living with 17 staff members can be overwhelming, but it is also a whole lot of fun!
The only “drama” to occur in the staff house was usually a Super Smash Bros rematch game!
The best of our shared memories includes our four-day canoe trip.
Our supervisors made it possible for the five of us to take time off along with four other students to journey through the backcountry waters of park.
This trip allowed us to gain a deeper appreciation for both our friendship and the ways in which we had been impacted by this wonderful park.
Saying goodbye to summer
We are so grateful for the park, the people, and the memories.
We especially appreciate having had the opportunities to express our passions through our work and to belong to such a beautiful community of people.
As the end of the summer draws near, we are taking advantage of what Quetico has to offer and the time we get to spend with one another.
We encourage all those able to apply for positions with Ontario Parks to take a step out of your comfort zone and just apply! Postings open in the winter and you can find all of the information that you need on the Ontario Parks website.
We hope in doing so that you will find your own type of Quetico.