Collage of vintage parks guides

Then & Now: parks guides over the decades

2018 marks Ontario Parks’ 125th anniversary!

Gearing up to celebrate 125 years of parks had us digging through our archives in search of vintage photos and documents. Over the course of the year, we’ll be sharing our discoveries in an OP125 blog series.

This month, we’re taking a look back at how our annual parks guides have evolved over the decades…

Parks guides through the years

The parks guide is an essential part of any trip to Ontario Parks and has been printed in different formats over the years, from fold-out maps to booklets.


This parks guide comes from 1957. We only had 26 provincial parks back then! As you can see, the “Ontario Parks” brand did not exist. Also, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry was known as the Department of Lands and Forests.

black booklet with pictures of activities entitled "The Provincial Parks of Ontario"
Parks guide, 1957


This parks guide came out a few years later. Ontario Parks had grown to 58 provincial parks by then. You can see the popularity of car and RV camping reflected in the design!

tan booklet with orange line drawings "So you want to go camping"
Parks guide, 1964


This majestic owl covers the parks guide from 1982. By then, Ontario Parks’ governing body was known as the Ministry of Natural Resources.

light orange booklet with picture of owl
Parks guide, 1982


The iconic La Cloche Mountains of Killarney Provincial Park star on the cover of the parks guide from 1987. In the background, you can see beautiful white quartzite ridges peeking through the trees.

family hiking in Killarney
Parks Guide, 1987


1993 was a special year for Ontario Parks, as we celebrated our 100th Anniversary. We celebrated with a special centennial logo, as you can see on the cover of the parks guide. In 1993 we had 256 provincial parks, encompassing an area of 6.3 million hectares.

white booklet with 3 canoists on cover
Parks Guide, 1993


This parks guide looks a bit more familiar to what we see today! The Ontario Parks logo finally appears, and we see representation of the iconic red canoe.

booklet with canoe on rocky outcrop by lake
Parks Guide, 2004


This year’s parks guide is a special edition that folds out into a map of parks to help plan your camping adventures! The map also features a timeline of Ontario Parks’ major achievements over the past 125 years.

map of parks system with small inset photos
Parks Guide, 2018

To learn more about the history of Ontario Parks, visit our interactive timeline.