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.
Trevor Gibb started with Ontario Parks as a summer student. He worked his way up from park warden to superintendent, earning degrees in geography and education along the way. He now manages Quetico Provincial Park, a vast backcountry park popular with paddlers.
1. What question do park visitors ask you most often?
People often ask, “What canoe routes are the best and most scenic, and where should I camp along the way?”
If they’re looking for a two-week trip, we might direct them to the Hunter Island loop through the heart of the park. For a weekend trip, we might send them on a short loop from our Dawson Trail campground at French Lake.
I really like travelling from west to east across the north end of the park. There’s lots of beautiful big lakes, and not a lot of canoe traffic.
My favourite lake is Quetico Lake, up in the northwest part of the park. It’s a big clear lake with lots of bays and arms to explore. Beautiful campsites. Big red and white pines. Sand beaches. There’s also three Anishinaabe pictograph sites on the lake.
It’s on a main travel route but the lake is so big you can always find a quiet, peaceful place to camp.
2. What is your favourite way to explore the park?
Oh, it’s a tie between canoeing and skiing. I can’t really rank one above the other.
Quetico has been a canoeing destination for 100 years. It’s a paddler’s paradise.
But nothing beats backcountry skiing in Quetico on a sunny March day. Skiing down a lake that you’re used to canoeing on really offers a different perspective on the park.
3. I understand you’re an avid angler. Know any underappreciated fishing spots?
French Lake — the small lake our campground is on — is a really good lake for fishing. But I see hardly anybody fishing there.
Our backcountry campers just paddle on through on their way to their destination. And the people staying in the car campground? Maybe they figure it’s just the campground lake so the fishing can’t be that good.
But it’s an excellent fishing spot.
4. What are some of your responsibilities as superintendent?
Most people think we spend a lot of time out of the office in the park. But there’s a lot of administrative work.
Here at Quetico, I work with our park biologist, map out our science program and monitoring program. I work with our park planners in the northwest zone as well.
My favourite part of the job is going on the park run. That’s when I fly a circuit of the park in a float plane. I resupply the remote entry stations and meet with our rangers there, and check on natural and cultural features from the air.
5. Your previous post, assistant superintendent of a cluster of 29 parks in northeastern Ontario, must have been very different…?
We did most of our park management remotely. We couldn’t physically be in all 29 parks regularly. Compared to managing one park, it’s a different set of challenges and experiences.
Out of the 29, five were operating parks. Those are parks with campgrounds or day use areas or both. The remaining 24 were non-operating parks.
I really like managing one park, because I’m able to pour everything into one place and really get to know it well. But one thing I miss is the amazing travel experiences.
A lot of the non-operating parks in that cluster were tough to get to. Polar Bear Provincial Park is one of them. But I ended up travelling up to the park about five or six times because I was a part of the Mid-Canada Line cleanup. That involved a couple of legs of flying from Cochrane, on to Moosonee, and on to Attawapiskat and further north to the park.
The world’s southernmost population of polar bears uses Polar Bear Provincial Park as summer habitat. There’s caribou all over the place. Beluga whales in the estuaries. It’s a really special place in Ontario.