Celebrating 125 years of Ontario Parks

Family Canoeing Close UpAlgonquin 2012

A family enjoys time on the water in Algonquin Park. (Photo Courtesy Ontario Parks)

Ontario Parks is celebrating birthday number 125 with music and entertaining family activities throughout the year – fantastic news for tourists who made ‘getting close to nature’ a resolution for 2018.

Visitors can look forward to special events, cultural programs, stewardship activities, a concert series and a series of legacy projects designed to encourage people to get out of the city and into nature.

And make no mistake, with 340 provincial parks that encompasses just under 8% of the province we are talking about a lot of nature. That’s an area larger than Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined.

You can’t go wrong visiting any Ontario Park at any time but here is a list of just a few locations we want you to consider.

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Ontario Parks had a 125 anniversary launch event in Toronto this month. Ontario Parks Senior Marketing Specialist Jeff Brown addresses media. (Photos Courtesy Evan Holt, Ontario Parks)

Vacay.ca Celebrates Ontario Parks in 2018

Where it all started: Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario’s oldest park (1893) and largest (7,653 square kilometres) will host a time capsule event this summer (details to be announced). Activities at Algonquin are endless – backpacking, biking, boating, bird watching, dog sledding, snowmobiling – you name it. This park features excellent trout fishing (particularly in the month of May) and moose viewing opportunities along Highway 60.

Find out why Algonquin Provincial Park is on the Vacay.ca 20 Best Places to Visit in Canada list for 2018!


Enjoying a family skate at Arrowhead Provincial Park. (Photo Courtesy Ontario Parks)

Winter fun: Things don’t slow down at Parks Ontario when the weather gets chilly – in fact 26 provincial parks are open during the winter season.

One park to check out is Arrowhead Provincial Park. A ten minute drive north of Huntsville, Arrowhead is planning a winter 125 event to coincide with the opening of a brand new multi-purpose pavilion. It’s also a sweet location in warm weather with sand beaches, motorboat-free lakes and 15 km of hiking trails.

In other news, a new facility is being built at Arrowhead to support a growing winter program. The multi-use building will feature a large warm-up room, a stone fireplace, a rental shop for skis, skates and snowshoes and a park store. The building will open in late 2018.

Go back in time: Even though we will never know the names the people who created the Aboriginal rock carvings (petroglyphs) at Petroglyphs Provincial Park (and other Ontario Parks throughout the province) their work continues to endure in Ontario. In fact, this sacred site, known as “The Teaching Rocks”, is the largest known concentration of petroglyphs in Canada, depicting turtles, snakes, bird and people and can be dated back between 900 and 1100 AD.

Really go back in time: Obabika River Provincial Park features archaeological evidence of the area’s rich Indigenous heritage dating back 6,000 years. Canoeists can travel on ancient portages. Remnants of the horse logging days and old lumber camps are found along many of the lakes in the park.

Sunset at The Crack]Killarney, August 2016 Rebecca Rogge

Sunset at Killarney Provincial Park. (Photo Courtesy Rebecca Rogge, Ontario Parks)

Artistic impressions: Made famous by members of the Group of Seven, Killarny Provincial Park is a must for any art junkie. The 80 km, looped, La Cloche-Silhouette Trail is a dream for hikers and cross-country skiers. A brand-new art-based program designed to connect people with nature through hands-on art activities will be offered in parks across the province.

Musical performances: David Archibald will bring his act to approximately 30 parks this year and provide live performances featuring new songs that celebrate Ontario Parks’ natural and cultural history. “The Wakami Wailers” will also make about five appearances. Dates and locations will be announced.

Say hello to your inner logger: Various logging contests and a logger’s bean lunch are waiting for you at Marten River Provincial Park. Visitors can also enjoy fiddle music and chainsaw carvers. Now that’s a combo.

Find your rainbow: Rainbow Falls Provincial Park has a magnificent trail that is part of the 52 km Casque Isles Trail. Visitors can enjoy water sports in the warmer inland waters of Whitesand Lake.

Lookout PointSleeping Giant, 2016 Anne MacLachlan

Lookout Point at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. (Photo Courtesy Anne MacLachlan, Ontario Parks)

Say hello to a giant: Check out the jaw-dropping views of Lake Superior and the surrounding area at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Excellent hiking, with opportunities to see a wide array of wildlife including moose, wolf, fox and lynx.

Walk on a battlefield: Internationally renowned for its walleye fishing, Sioux Narrows Provincial Park is where you can find Lake of the Woods, a one million acre lake that has over 14,000 islands and 105,000 kilometres of shoreline just itching to be explored. Sioux Narrows is the site of an Indigenous battle between Ojibway and Sioux warriors.


Support Ontario Parks 125th legacy projects: Ontario Parks is accepting donations to special projects that enhance biodiversity, engage youth or improve facilities. These projects include an Interpretive display at Algonquin, a trail upgrade at Killarney and Balsam Lake Provincial Park. The plan is to also build a variety of unique recreational and interpretive activities – including a cricket field – at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Website: www.ontarioparks.com/en
Call: 1-800-ONTARIO / 1-800-668-2746
Hours: 8 am to 8 pm Monday through Friday and 9 am to 6 pm Saturday, Sunday and holidays (excluding December 25 and January 1).
Local Park Locater: https://www.ontarioparks.com/park-locator

Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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