What it’s like to work the front gate at a provincial park

Our front gate staff are frontline heroes of park operations.

(If you’ve ever checked in at a bustling park on a busy Friday afternoon, you know exactly what we’re talking about!)

Gate staff work extremely hard to get you into the park as quickly as possible, all while balancing many priorities in a hectic environment.

Here are five things they’d like you to know about working in the gatehouse:

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What it’s like to be a washroom cleaner at Ontario Parks

In today’s post, our Algonquin Zone Marketing Specialist Andrea Coulter shares how a summer of cleaning washrooms turned her into a public washroom etiquette crusader.

After more than 15 years with Ontario Parks, I still remember my first position most vividly (you never forget cleaning poop off the beach…). I was eighteen years old, and spent the summer working maintenance with Ontario Parks.

After that season of wiping footprints off toilet seats, cleaning clumps of hair from washroom sinks, and scraping waste off the floor, there are some things I started doing (and some things I would never do again):

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Planes, paddles and portages: a journey of garbage

This is a story about garbage.

It wasn’t a quick journey. It took a plane ride, some paddling in a canoe, portaging, more paddling, another plane ride, and a drive on the highway.

This garbage was left in Algonquin Provincial Park’s remote backcountry, something that, unfortunately, happens far too often.

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Shell-ebrate Ontario’s turtles with our new merchandise line

Last spring, we asked you to help us protect Ontario’s eight turtles species, all of which are species at risk.

With just one year of the Turtle Protection Project under our belts, staff are already seeing amazing results.

This year, we’re excited to debut a new way to support turtle conservation in Ontario Parks: our Turtle Protection Project merchandise line.

Let’s take a look at how you can help Ontario’s turtles AND look good while doing it.

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How will I know ecological integrity when I see it?

Preserving ecological integrity is a priority for all of us here at Ontario Parks. But just what does ecological integrity look like? Algonquin Provincial Park Naturalist David LeGros explains…

When I start many of my evening programs at Algonquin, I often ask the audience if they like nature.

Usually I get a lot of hands up in the air, but there are always a few that don’t put their hands up. I tell those people, “You might be in the wrong place, because Algonquin is crawling with nature.” I know these folks may have not been paying attention to what I was saying or chose not to participate in my survey, but it always gets a laugh from the crowd.

However, this did get me thinking about why we go to parks over staying home or visiting a big city…

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A trip down the Pakeshkag River at Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Sonje Bols, a former naturalist at Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

Part of a park naturalist’s job is to familiarize themselves with the natural and cultural wonders of their park through exploration.

Whether it’s hanging out at bogs to catch and identify dragonflies, checking rocks for snakes, or canoeing along Indigenous canoe routes, naturalists set out to observe and explore every inch of their parks so they can bring that knowledge and experience to park visitors and managers.

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Spotted on iNaturalist: our staff’s favourite observations

Did you know April is Community Science Month?

It’s no secret that we’re big proponents of community science, especially using a beginner-friendly app like iNaturalist!

Every observation contributes to park research and helps maintain ecological integrity in our natural spaces.

Not to mention the cool and unusual species we’ve spotted along the way!

Check out some of our staff’s favourite iNaturalist observations:

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“What the heck is that?!”: when to #AskanOPNaturalist

Today’s post comes from David LeGros, a park naturalist with the Ontario Parks Discovery Program.

“I’ve never seen one of those” is among my favorite sentences.

There’s a scary thing that happens the longer you look into nature. The more you find, the more you find out that you don’t know that much. It can be an intimidating feeling, but also, an exciting feeling.

Your mind is about to be blown.

Repeatedly.

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From tumblers to leaf blowers: we bet you didn’t know how much work it takes to make our beaches beautiful

Today’s blog was written by Jessica Stillman, school outreach coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Our beautiful beaches are one of the many reasons people choose to visit parks.

But you didn’t think they got that pretty on their own, did you?

Here’s a glimpse into some of the behind-the-scenes work you probably didn’t know was going on across the province…

Continue reading From tumblers to leaf blowers: we bet you didn’t know how much work it takes to make our beaches beautiful

8 questions with an Ontario Parks ecologist

Alison Lake or “Lakie” is an ecologist in our northeast zone, and has earned a reputation as a passionate promoter of ecological integrity.

She has an infectious love of the natural world and is rarely seen without her “bins” (binoculars) around her neck.

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