We asked you what you remember most about Ontario Parks, and you came through. You told us about your nose-to-nose encounter with deer, the “Welcome Wagon” of skunks at your campsite, Grandpa’s burnt pancakes and that awful canoe trip that somehow, got you hooked. Your tales made us marvel, laugh and brought tears to our eyes. Some of your stories are featured in the 2006 Ontario Parks Guide and we’ll be posting more of them here in the weeks to come. Thank-you for sharing your memories with us!
In 1987 I started going to summer camp in Minden. Part of going to this camp was a several-day canoe trip into Algonquin Park. The trip was out of Smoke Lake and headed down into Big Porcupine. I remember getting sun stroke after paddling an aluminum canoe across Smoke Lake and Ragged Lake in the blazing sun… no sun screen or water of course. The councillors who were guiding us got lost and we had way too much stuff to carry. The trip lasted a few days and I hated pretty much all of it, but something must have struck a chord. Since 1987 and that memorable canoe trip, I have not put the paddle down. Almost 20 years since that first trip, my wife who never canoed until she met me and I now spend many days paddling in Algonquin. One of my favourite spots to paddle is still Smoke Lake, down into Big Porcupine. Every time, I am reminded of that first trip. My love for canoeing in the parks has grown so much over the years that I’m having a tattoo of the portage sign used in the parks done on my arm to represent the many portages I have done, and the many I hope to come.
During the summer of 2005, a group of us took a trip to Balsam Lake. One night, after ensuring all our supplies were locked away, we went to sleep. At about 5 a.m., we woke up to our friend yelling “Wake up! There’s a bear on the site! He brushed against our tent!” We fumbled for our flashlights. My first thought was, ‘Where is the bear and how do we get to our car?’ After finding our flashlight, we quickly scanned the surrounding area looking for the beast. Suddenly, my fiancé burst out laughing. I looked over and noticed a family of 3 small skunks leaving our site, probably disturbed by all the commotion. Yes, the great, big, killer bear turned out to be a family of skunks.
One summer when I was a child of about 6 or 7, my family spent almost all of our summer out at Presqu’ile. We went to all of the campfires and I can still remember all of the songs. My brother and I always went on the Nature Walks. That summer stands out in my memory as being one of the most fun of my childhood. Now that I’ve grown up, I realize how important this place is, for many reasons. I hope that every kid has a place like this to grow up in.
Our family has been coming to The Pinery for 30 years. Our three children count those 30 years among the fondest memories of their childhood. I now have grandchildren who start asking around February, “Gramma, when are we going to Pinery?” I like that my grandchildren can find lots of things to do that have nothing to do with television or video games. I tell my friends that Pinery is the closest thing to heaven on earth. I’m already counting the days till we can go back.
This past August in Algonquin on the mountain bike trail, my son, Kevin and I were at about the half-way point on the 17 km trail. Just past a lake and around a corner, two moose “big ones” saw us and ran for cover. but the thing I will always remember is the deer flies left in their wake. Kevin and I were swarmed. We tried to follow the moose, but they were gone in a flash. But those deer flies were not.
Kevin & Glenn Bull
More memories coming soon in part 2!