Taking my mom camping for the first time in 20 years

In today’s post, Assistant Program Coordinator Megan Birrell takes us through her latest camping caper.

This fall, I took my mom to Arrowhead Provincial Park for our first fall camping experience. Not only was this our first time camping after Labour Day, but it was also my mom’s first time tent camping in over 20 years, so this was a big change.

I grew up camping around the province in massive trailers that, while comfortable, are not the easiest to tow around. So in the past few years I’ve switched back to tent camping, and this time my mom was joining me.

Our main worries ahead of our trip were:

  • what if it’s too cold?
  • what is there to do?
  • do we have the right gear?

With a little planning we soothed those worries, although some other issues popped up in the process.

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Is that lichen killing those trees?

Today’s post comes from Cara Freitag, a past Park Naturalist at Neys Provincial Park.

There are many misconceptions about nature: climb a tree to escape bears,  moose are friendly, coolers are strong enough to prevent bears getting your food.

Before I became a naturalist, I thought that all insects were bugs, not just the Hemiptera order. My cousins in Germany thought that every Canadian had a pet Polar Bear!

None of these things are true.

Big mammals tend to get most of the attention, but there are misconceptions about smaller organisms too.

We have many visitors at the Neys Visitor Centre wondering: “Is that lichen killing those trees?” (Don’t worry, the answer is no.)

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Community science with the Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere

Today’s blog was written by Discovery Program Project Coordinator Jessica Stillman.

This summer, Grundy Lake Provincial Park, Killbear Provincial Park, and The Massasauga Provincial Park collaborated with the Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere (GBB) to host bioblitzes within the world’s largest freshwater archipelago.

What is a bioblitz? In short, it is a community science event for recording different species within a certain location and time.

For these events, park visitors, Friends members, and staff from both Ontario Parks and GBB came together to inventory living things by uploading them to iNaturalist.

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Keeping tabs on turtles in Southeastern Ontario

Over the years, Ontario Parks staff have created many blogs about turtles, their significance to the Ontario landscape, and why it’s important that we protect and support them.

You may even be familiar with our Turtle Protection Project! With seven of the eight turtle species found in Ontario being species-at-risk under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007, we like to give them all the support and attention we can.

Well, today’s post is all about this season’s turtle protection efforts in our Southeast Zone, including a new project that was started this year…

Introducing Team Turtle!

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Shining a light on the historic Presqu’ile lighthouse

If you’ve visited Presqu’ile Provincial Park, it is almost certain you have spent some time admiring their iconic Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse.

For over 180 years this lighthouse has remained a landmark in times of great change.

Although the Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse has remained a beacon along the north shore of Lake Ontario, it has had its own transformations and changes.

Today we’re highlighting the efforts that have taken place on Presqu’ile’s lighthouse to preserve and maintain this historic and functioning landmark – the second oldest continually operating lighthouse on Lake Ontario!

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There and back again: a Quetico tale

Today’s blog comes from Quetico Provincial Park Canoe Route Technician Gavin Morito-Karn.

In 2019, I spent my summer paddling across a large chunk of the vastness of one of Canada’s waterways.

Brigitte Champaigne-Klassen (also a past member of Quetico’s staff) and I travelled from Cochrane, Alberta (just west of Calgary) to Nym Lake on the border of Quetico, approximately a 4,500 km journey.

The majority of those days were spent on unfamiliar waters that cut through prairie fields and man-made lakes.

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Fourth graders become species-at-risk superheroes!

Parks alone are not enough to save species at risk.

As we’ve continued our species-at-risk blog series this summer, we’ve been able to share stories of the amazing species that call parks home and the work being done to protect them.

Now we want to introduce you to the newest team of superheroes taking up the charge across Ontario – grade 4 students!

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(Don’t fear) The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Today’s post comes from Nicholas Ypelaar, former assistant Discovery coordinator at Awenda Provincial Park

“EW! SNAKES!” and/or accompanying fearful shrieks are phrases I’m all too familiar with.

In defense of all those who have zero affinity to the limbless scaled reptiles of the world, I can understand it. My grandmother grew up in Goa, India, where venomous snakes such as cobras and kraits are commonplace.

As humans, we tend to build fears based on what we perceive as dangerous to help us survive. However, we aren’t the only species trying to survive.

I’d like to dispel the myth that Ontario snakes are dangerous through the lens of a particular “bad actor,” the threatened Eastern Hog-nosed Snake.

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A ghost in the attic

Today’s blog comes to us from Sam Alison, former Ontario Parks Gray Ratsnake researcher at Murphys Point Provincial Park

I must admit, as a seven year old, I was a little nervous about spending the night at my great grandmother’s cottage. At the family reunion, I had heard all about the seemingly mythical creature that lived in the attic…

…a creature so good at hiding, you’d never know where it was at any point in time.

…a creature so long, it could reach right around the door frame if it wanted to.

…a creature so mesmerizing, that everyone had a story to tell.

What was this creature? Where was it? I was hooked.

I spent our family vacation looking for this legend. Little did I know, this adventure would inspire my future career.

A university degree and many years later, I’m still searching for Canada’s longest snake species – the Gray Ratsnake.

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