A look back on Ontario Parks’ outhouses

We called on Ontario Parks Architect Matthew Harvey to provide some insight on outhouses…the good, the bad, and the stinky!

In the course of my 25 year architectural career with Ontario Parks, I occasionally get asked what I do for a living. I proudly reply “Why, I design outhouses!”

If that person doesn’t excuse themselves, turn on their heel and beat a hasty retreat, then we might get down to a discussion that goes something like this:

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Where can a paddle take you?

In today’s post, Rondeau Provincial Park‘s Chief Park Naturalist Jess Matthews takes us back in time…

There may be a time when you used your paddle to get through white caps. At other times, it leisurely pulled you over still wetlands.

They are a lifeline. Solid, reliable; something that won’t break down on whatever journey you may be on.

But what if we told you that a paddle can also take you through time to the very beginning of the provincial park system? A time when the only two superintendents in Ontario Parks were 600 km away from each other, and correspondence was mainly though letters.

Just two paddles are the tangible pieces of history that connects Algonquin Provincial Park and Rondeau Provincial Park through a story of beginnings, friendships, and marriage.

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Taking steps on the journey toward truth and reconciliation

“What is Ontario Parks doing to support reconciliation?”

We’ve heard that question more and more often, whether asked in a park or via social media message, whether asked by an Indigenous Person or a non-Indigenous person, we genuinely welcome the question.

Ontario Parks is committed to a journey of meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We would like to share some of the concrete steps we are taking on that journey and we hope this post will invite our readers to join us in this day of respect and reflection.

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An outsider’s view on the importance of Anishinaabemowin

Today’s post comes from retired Quetico Provincial Park biologist Brian Jackson. 

Anishinaabemowin is the traditional name for the language of the Anishinaabeg or Ojibway people who have lived for centuries on the land now known as Quetico Provincial Park.

In recent years, Quetico has taken steps to incorporate more Anishinaabemowin into educational material for the park.

Examples include the “Animals of Quetico in Anishinaabemowin” brochure available from entry stations, or the new Anishinaabemowin/Ojibway lake names display we are working on that will go into the Dawson Trail Pavilion.

But why should learning more about Anishinaabemowin be important to non-Indigenous people like myself who know very little of this beautiful language?

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Chugging along the tracks of time

Today’s post comes from Kelila Seymour, 2021 Discovery Leader at Neys Provincial Park.

While some parks can boast a connection with the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR), few parks are “tied” to the railroad as closely as Neys!

Maybe you’ve driven across the tracks when you’ve entered the park, heard the whistle blow as you curl up around an evening fire, or had the chance to paddle under the trussel bridge that spans the Little Pic River.

Surrounding Neys, you are reminded of the CPR and its historical significance to the park and to Canada.

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The life of a lumberjack in 5 objects

Today’s post comes from Sonje Bols, a Discovery Program Coordinator with Ontario Parks’ Northeast Zone. 

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be a lumberjack 100 years ago?

Was it a life full of adventure? Or was it a hard, grinding existence?

Did some lumberjacks really have superhuman strength? How much truth can be found in the legends and songs describing their feats, struggles, and triumphs?

Here are five objects from Marten River that illustrate what the life of a lumberjack was really like!

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How Pancake Bay got its name

Today’s post comes from — you guessed it — Pancake Bay Provincial Park.

Where did the name Pancake Bay come from? The answer changes depending on who you ask.

Ask a local and they’ll tell you one story. Ask a Pancake Bay staff member and they’ll tell you another. Ask a child and they will tell you it’s because the beach is flat like a pancake 😉

But no matter whom you ask, the name is closely tied to the voyageurs.

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