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5 questions with a backcountry ranger

Welcome to our “5 Questions” series! We chat with park staff around the province to give you an inside look at what it’s like to work at Ontario Parks.

Jason Lorbetskie has worked as a backcountry ranger in Algonquin Provincial Park for over 17 years. He is currently a Group Leader for Operations South, where his job duties include supervising other rangers, maintaining trails and campsites, and assisting with all facets of the backcountry program.

What’s your favourite sound in the park?

swimming loon with chick

Algonquin is synonymous with sounds of the wilderness. Among the most popular are the calls of loons, a chorus of bullfrogs, or wolves howling. Among the least popular is the hum of mosquitoes.

In the backcountry, we often hear youth camps singing as they paddle across the lakes, the sound of a thunder box lid being slammed, the sound of the rain falling on our tent, or the sound of paddles hitting gunwales of a canoe.

After a long day’s work, when I’m lying in my tent at night, I love listening to the loons calling back and forth to each other on the lake.

What’s your favourite camping meal?

Fresh fish-and-chips cooked along the shore. There is something very satisfying about catching, cleaning, and preparing a meal in quick succession. I like fish filleted and fried in a home-made powder rub.

What’s your favourite time of year in the park?

Forgot to get proper focus on a moose? That's not a problem with AfterFocus. Photo by Andrea Coulter.

The first week of May; it’s by far the most exciting time of the year!

The landscape starts to come alive with sound and colour. It seems like all the wildlife are excited for spring too. There’s nothing like trying to identify familiar bird calls you haven’t heard in eight months.

Plus, the fish are biting, but the black flies haven’t started yet.

What’s your favourite lake in the park?

Bonnechere Lake

It’s hard to pick just one from 2,456 lakes.

Rangers tend to be biased toward lakes they regularly patrol. For me, Lake Louisa, Harness, Bonnechere, and McIntosh come to mind. Some have a favourite campsite, others are great for wildlife, swimming, or fishing.

If I had to pick, I think Bonnechere Lake is my favourite.

Bonnechere Lake campsite
This campsite is one of the reasons Bonnechere Lake is Jason’s favourite!

What question do park visitors ask you the most?

Lots of questions about the weather or if many bears have been seen in the area.

Honestly, the most common question rangers are asked is “How do I get your job?”

Learn more about what it’s like to work at Ontario Parks!