collage of photos

Weekend warriors: northern edition

This blog comes from park besties: Alysa Cortes and Zuzanna Radecki! They’re back for another recap of their weekend adventures living and working at a different provincial park.

This season, we moved 17 hours from home and 14 hours from our previous park, Killbear Provincial Park, to work at the world-renowned paddling paradise: Quetico Provincial Park!

I’m Zuzanna!

staff wearing uniform, PFD, holding paddle

Last year I was a gate attendant. This year, I landed the role of operations assistant at Quetico.

This summer I got the opportunity to work closely with each department in the park, whether it was helping maintenance with raking beaches to collecting revenue at our entry stations via float plane.

I’m Alysa!

staff walking onto float plane

Last year I was Killbear’s administrative assistant, working behind the scenes in the office in charge of paperwork and revenue and filling out timesheets.

This year I traded in my stapler for a bent-shaft paddle and my office chair for a seat in a beautiful Kevlar canoe as a canoe route technician!

It was a lot of hard work, but extremely rewarding.

Camping on days off

Since Alysa would camp and work for eight days at a time in the interior, we didn’t know if she would be all “camped out” when our days off would align.

The answer was no, she was not at all camped out. In fact, she’d drag us from the staff house back into the bush with her to camp.

It was a lot easier planning trips with our schedules and we did not take it for granted!

On the last day of our trips, we were no longer shoving all of our gear in the car and racing back to work for our 8:00 a.m. shifts.

We had the newfound luxury of sleeping in.

Two day trip east

Parks visited:

Kakabeka Falls
Kakabeka Falls

On our first set of days off, we drove east, first stopping at Kakabeka Falls.

Kakabeka Falls, is the second highest waterfall in Ontario and offers spectacular views!

We hiked the short Boardwalk Trail to view the falls from different angles and were stunned at the views.

Nestled an hour east of Thunder Bay is Sleeping Giant.

Only having two days off, we didn’t have time to hike the entire Top of the Giant Trail, however we were lucky enough to experience a glimpse of what this park had to offer.

We drove to the Thunder Bay Lookout and got to see the city from the Giant’s point of view.

group of staff sitting on lake edge
Sea Lion Trail with the staff house friends

We then hiked the Sea Lion Trail. In this 2.5 km hike we encountered viewpoints that offer panoramic views of Lake Superior, nearby islands, and the Sleeping Giant formation.

Our last stop was Ouimet Canyon, about another hour east of Thunder Bay.

two people pointing at canyon
Ouimet Canyon

We were in awe of Ouimet Canyon with its breathtaking cliffs that plunge downward. It’s unbelievable that a view like this is in Ontario!

Heading west

two people looking at river

Parks visited:

From Quetico, we traveled west for a small three day loop visiting four parks — a perfect way to immerse in the beauty of northwestern Ontario’s provincial parks!

These parks offered the perfect escape for us seeking a blend of hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and the simple pleasure of roasting marshmallows by the fire while stargazing.

Heading home

Parks visited:

two staff on trail
Alyssa with Kyler — now park warden at Rainbow Falls! We used to work at West Gate in Algonquin Provincial Park as student gate attendants

In our defense, it was hard not to stop at every park on the way down!

What made this road trip truly memorable was getting to visit the friends from previous parks we had worked at.

These reunions helped us cherish our friendships and brought us full circle, ending our season off with the individuals who embarked on this Ontario Parks journey alongside us.

Try a summer with Ontario Parks!

Living and working with Ontario Parks we realized it wasn’t just a job, but a privilege.

staff outside of plane

It was an opportunity to be part of something larger than ourselves, to contribute to the preservation of these incredible natural spaces, and to share them with others.

So if you ever find yourself considering a summer working with Ontario Parks, remember that it’s more than a summer job.

It’s an invitation to immerse yourself in the beauty of Ontario’s diverse outdoors, to forge lifelong friendships, and to be part of a community dedicated to protecting the natural wonders that makes Ontario so extraordinary.

Want to join us for the 2024 season?

Learn about the positions available at parks across the province by visiting our careers website!