Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The welcome we received at Ontario Provincial Parks was always warm. The young people that run the registration are competent, cheerful and well-informed about their park. They whiz through computer chores that baffle oldsters, sell firewood and ice, mark your availible sites, answer questions about the wildlife and history and SMILE.
Ontario builds their parks for camping, so the emphasis is on shaded sites for a family to set up one of those palatial-sized tents and maybe a dining fly/bugscreen. There are few sites dedicated to the mullti-slide satellite equipped set. This being Summer, there are lots and lots of bikes, kids, dogs, cartop boats, floaties and harried parents that don't have too much time to chat. We are good with all that.
We arrived at Neys PP in grey, drizzly weather and landed a site right on the shore. Al had somehow gotten the idea that a pebble beach was awaiting, but it was the usual narrow Great Lakes beach with lots of telephone pole shaped driftwood that should not be burned because of it's picturesque qualities. Did I say it was grey and miserable? I think that "colored" our perception some. We hiked some and looked over the little model of the POW camp once situated here. (You know, they didn't site those POW camps in the primo scenic areas, Eh?) We did (nearly) fondle a full body mount of a young Woodland Caribou (shot by accident by a Moose hunter with eyesight issues). That perked us up, but we learned that the Caribou were on a island and your own private vessel was required. In the immortal words of our hero, Meriwether Lewis, We Proceeded on...

Lake Superior PP was on our list and the highway views as we passed along the length of this Huge park were spectacular. We should have stopped lakeside at Rabbit Blanket campground and explored the pictographs and hiking, but we found ourselves in a long line at the beach campground competing for one of the last available sites in this closely packed enclave. The overworked clerk warned us that a trailer like ours couldn't get in that site last night. Goaded by other onlookers, we gave it a try and nearly sacrificed a mirror to roadside trees. We proceeded on to ...

Pancake Bay PP where we found yet another beach park and an equally skilled young clerk who fixed us up with a one night, stay-hitched, pull-through site, but failed to warn us about the infernal swamp of a dump... We proceeded on, but this time Patty took the reins and next day we turned off the main drag of Massey ON, went just a few blocks and came upon...
Chutes PP which had yet another charmer in the office, huge shaded sites and scenery like this...

Chutes was named for the log flumes built around the falls to drive logs to the Spanish River and then on to Superior. The park is off the Around Lake Superior Greatest Hits list just far enough to make the perfect stop. We did laundry, ate a wonderful meal, hiked all the trails and still had time to visit the Massey Public Library (open tonight 7-9PM) and post a few blogs. We love this park. A nearby sister park has lots of lakes to paddle, more hiking and canoes for rent. Plenty to do.
The roads in western Ontario (just over the border) were superb -- the smooth pavement, occasional big views and thoughtfully placed passing lanes. As we wandered East, they deteriorated measurably until, on this leg, we covered 20KM of dirt and detours. (big road project, not nearly ready for new surface yet). Motels and outposts at roadside looked bleak, like we were crossing the Yukon soon. Our goal this last day was Champaign PP. The amiable young clerk met us outside the door in welcome, but we wanted to see the sites first; we had endured the frost-heaved and broken approach road. The sites were horrible. No attempt to level anything. There were tent sites where you would have to be "on belay" to sleep in your tent.
The bridge to the campsite was interesting,

but we proceeded on without stopping.

Driftwood PP was laid out with the same disregard. Details would sound like whining, but would you really like to be camped next to the site with four tents, three flies, two boat trailers and about 19 people plus dogs? We took a murky pull through, didn't drive the entire road network to the shower or take the "path through the woods" which would pretty well undo any effects of the shower. We used the marginal power to plan our run for the border.


  1. If you go thru Ontario again, try to swing by Bon Echo Provincial Park - two lovely secluded lakes and a sheer cliff along the side of one of them with pictographs that you can examine by canoe - lovely!

  2. Thanks Ridgetop, We clearly left a LOT of beautiful Canada for another visit. Our little ad hoc tour suffered from lack of prior planning. We hope to go again better prepared. Your further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Bon Echo is now on our radar. Thanks. Al