Posts Tagged ‘parks canada’

Lead Me To An Outdoor Adventure and I Will Follow

This past Saturday I grabbed the kids and headed over to the Outdoor Adventure Show here in Toronto.  What an inspiring day!

Our first stop was to watch a presentation by Lyn Elliott on the Top Ten Adventures in Ontario’s National Parks. Loved it!  While I proudly thought to myself, “done that, done that”, there were a number of things that have been added to my “must do” list…namely visiting the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. The kids took one look at the new oTENTik accommodations that are being offered and their eyes lit up.  If you haven’t seen one, picture a soft sided rustic cabin.  Truth be told, after our amazing trip to Georgian Bay Islands last year and the cozy cabin we stayed in there, it wasn’t a hard sell to get me to agree that we must go and try an oTENTik…and soon!

oTENTik accommodation available in St. Lawrence Islandsphoto: Parks Canada

oTENTik accommodation available in St. Lawrence Islands
photo: Parks Canada

As we made our way up and down the aisles of the show, I picked up maps and planners for all sorts of dreamy places, the kind of places that I’ve pictured exploring since I was a kid.  Gros Morne National Park out in Newfoundland looks absolutely gorgeous and I guarantee we’ll make it there some day. But the most intriguing and bucket list worthy destinations (because of distance and exotic local) are the National Parks in Northern Canada. Wild, breathtaking and untouched, the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut seem so out of reach to the average “southern Canadian”.  Getting there is possible though if we put our minds to it.  With some planning, saving and training, Fraser and I have every intention of making it there with the kids.

In the meanwhile, there are oodles of fabulous places in my beloved Ontario that are calling out to me.  I walked away with an Ontario Parks Guide and a pamphlet listing the National Parks Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas here. Now I’ve got a couple more maps for the house and we can start checking off all of the places that we’ve visited.

The show was a great way to spend a day and inspiration for how to spend a lifetime.  And to that woman who looked skeptical that I was going to run out and buy that yogurt after she gave me a sample…I did.  It was good yogurt.  Reeeally good.  Thanks for another great show!

National Parks in Ontario…Georgian Bay Islands

Although 2011 marked Parks Canada‘s 100th anniversary, 2012 is shaping up to be my family’s year of the national park system. We will be visiting two of the five national parks within Ontario’s borders.  With the newly launched Xplore program aimed at engaging youth participation in the outdoors targeting 6-11 year olds, there will be plenty to discover.  Here’s an excerpt from their website.

When you arrive at a participating national park, national historic site or national marine conservation area, your children will receive an Xplorers booklet filled with fun activities that will guide their discovery of the place. When they complete the requested number of activities they will be recognized as an official Xplorer with a certificate and a special souvenir!

This program is something that my kids will definitely be participating in.  It helps take the pressure off of us parents to entertain them and they’ll be learning about the history, culture and geography of the area, all the while thinking it’s a treasure hunt (suckers).  They can try their hand at geocaching, identifying local flora and fauna and learning an appreciation for the beauty and importance of our environment.  The program is included with the regular entry fee.

Our national parks of choice this year will be Pukaskwa and Georgian Bay Islands.  Both have recently been revamped.  The Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa has new suspension bridges and improved trails and walkways, plus free wifi at the visitors centre (expect to see a couple of pictures while we’re checking in and out)!  While Georgian Bay Islands have newly built rustic cabins available on Beausoleil Island (they’re called rustic but from the pictures look incredibly well-appointed and cottage-like, although don’t have indoor plumbing).

photo: Parks Canada

A real effort seems to have been put into making the parks more accessible to anyone with the desire to experience all the beauty that Ontario has to offer, regardless of experience.  This park also has a program that I’ve never seen before.  They have an all-inclusive option offering pre-assembled tents, all necessary gear, some food and guided hikes, canoeing and campfires!  If you’ve never been camping or it’s been years and years since your last trip, this one-on-one attention from park staff will provide an awesome experience as well as the confidence to venture out on your own next time.

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

photo: Parks Canada

As you know, I am a huge proponent of getting kids into the outdoors.   With Georgian Bay Islands just a two-hour drive from Toronto and offering serviced sites, interpretive programming and cabins that even include dishes and cookware, there is no excuse to put off your resolution to go camping this year.  The park is open year round, but services are available starting Victoria Day weekend and run until Thanksgiving Monday in October.  The islands are a mix of classic Georgian Bay rocky outcrops and long sandy beaches as well as hardwood forests.  There are numerous hiking trails and even a couple of bike trails.  Access to the islands is by boat only.  There is parking available on the mainland at Honey Harbour, and if you don’t have your own boat you can take the park’s passenger ferry, the DayTripper, across for a small fee (parking and ferry are included in cabin rental fees).  The ferry is seasonal, so you should contact the park for dates and times.

So for a quick day trip or an exciting overnighter in either a tent or a cabin, don’t overlook Georgian Bay Islands National Park!  As for Pukaskwa, well that’s a story for another post.  Stay tuned!

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Muskrat?

I just read a cool tweet a couple of days ago and I feel inspired.  I follow Parks Canada on Twitter and they announced that they have a new app.  It is called “Parks Canada Heritage Gourmet”.  It is Parks Canada’s first official app and my first impression is that it is a good one.

screenshot of Canada Parks Heritage Gourmet app

It’s sort of an historical Canadian cookbook.  The recipes in one way or another represent or were influenced by, one of Canada’s national historic sites.  They are arranged by course, menu, region or period and each recipe is accompanied by the story of its inspiration and a link to the site that it represents.  There is one that I’ve already got the ingredients for and I’m definitely going to make this weekend.  Corn bread…mmm.  My mom used to make corn bread for breakfast, although she called it Johnny Cake.  I can imagine us all digging into this warm delight on cold fall and winter mornings, having drowned it in maple syrup. Sounds pretty Canadian to me!

There are other less familiar offers like the fried muskrat and eel stew.  Who knows though, maybe I’ll make it a mission to work my way through the more than 70 recipes.  I’ll try to hold back my scepticism at the more obscure fare, as the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Algonquin College has tested all of the recipes and revised them as necessary to make it possible to achieve tasty results.

I think that maybe I’ll concoct some recipes of my own inspired by Ontario Provincial Parks.  I’ll keep ya posted on the results of both. Oh, I almost forgot.  If you don’t have an app friendly device, Parks Canada has a bunch of the recipes on their website and promise to have all of them soon.  Happy eating!

Under the Influence

Is is possible to influence yourself?  I was glancing over some of my posts and I feel the seed of an idea.  Things that have been on my mind lately…Parks Canada, kids needing to up their exercise, epic trips, spending more time with my family.  Do you see what I see?  It feels like the perfect storm.  Do you think that one wacky brood could influence enough Canadian families to make a real difference?  I do.  Now I just have to figure out how.

Happy 100th Birthday Parks Canada!

So it is Parks Canada’s centennial year! They are launching the celebration this Saturday May 21st at the CN Tower/Rogers Centre. Between 11am and 7pm you can participate in all sorts of fun activities and meet the Parks Canada mascot, Parka (I met him today!). Today is day one of their year long celebration that will include themes for each month. Celebrate May’s theme “New Beginnings” and be sure to check out the website at

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