The following is the transcript from our podcast episode on Ontario Provincial Park rules, Trilliums, and Ferris Provincial Park.
Hello, and good day, eh. Welcome to the Super Good Camping podcast. My name is Pamela.
And I’m Tim
and we are from supergoodcamping.com. We are on a mission to help other families enjoy camping adventures such as we have with our kids. Today we wanted to talk about some of the camping rules and how not to annoy other people by transgressing the rules. And also about trilliums, which are Ontario’s provincial flower and Ferris Provincial Park. So I’ll turn it over to Tim for camping rules.
Rules for Camping at Ontario Provincial Parks
All right, so I’m not going to talk about all the camping rules mostly just the ones that I watch people break all the time. I don’t know if it’s because they’re unaware, or they just don’t care, but I thought it wouldn’t be a bad thing to just put the info back out there in the hopes that it sticks in people’s heads.
We’re recording this in the spring – did you notice all the rain we’re getting? It’s supposed to snow overnight. What the heck, we’re in April man!
Victoria Day Weekend Alcohol Ban in Provincial Parks
Because May 2-4 is coming, many parks have a May 2-4 or Victoria Day weekend alcohol ban and it’s their biggest fine, just so you know. Alcohol offenses run anywhere between 50 and 175 bucks. I think on an alcohol ban weekend it’s 125 bucks if you get caught with it. So maybe don’t do that. And also Sibbald Point has its very own Labour Day weekend ban because it’s so out of control. The problem is that it’s too close to Toronto. Check the rules before you go to make sure that you’re allowed to take the beer with you.
So just for clarity, it’s only on specific weekends?
Correct! I think it’s May 2-4 weekend (Victoria Day weekend) and 10 days preceding that specifically just because they’re long weekends and we’re a bunch of yahoos and we get out of control once the snow is gone. So yes, May 2-4 weekend and Labour Day weekend. Labour Day weekend is only at Sibbald Point.
Ontario Provincial Parks and Noise Violations
Noise transgressions are a big one certainly for me. People go camping to be outdoors and get away from noise or to hear wildlife noise, not you, and not your barking dog. Radio-Free campgrounds are fairly well laid out. I know I’ve specifically looked for Radio-Free campgrounds when we’re car camping. Their radio-free, it’s not “well, how loud can I play my radio?” No, no, no. I think you missed the point Radio-Free means no radios. That’s how that works. Okay, just saying because lots of people don’t seem to grasp that concept. Any kind of excessive noise anywhere in the park really is an issue whether it is your barking dog that you apparently don’t notice. Everybody else does notice. There’s no sound barrier between your site and my site. I know we’ve talked about Presqu’ile in the summer of 2021. The campsite beside us stayed up until three o’clock in the morning and they were loud and drunk and all of that. It’s like don’t, just don’t. Okay, that’s it, people are trying to get some relaxation, especially in these wonderful trying times, and let them get peace and quiet. I mean, I get that you need to blow off a little steam and sit up late and have a big yak, but find somewhere else to do it. Go on some Crown land where nobody else is around, whatever. Not in a provincial park where somebody’s 14 feet from you. Okay? Just saying. Also noise bylaws, the fines run anywhere between 75 and 150 bucks. So it’s also pretty expensive to not do things the way you’re supposed to do them.
Storing Food While Camping
The next title is Storing Wildlife Attractants, like your cooler. When you walk away, when you go for a hike or something, and you leave your cooler on your site, that’s a big mistake. It may not be as much of an issue in the parks that are closer to Toronto because you’re less likely to have bears. But it’s a big fine 225 bucks. And if you leave your site, just stick your cooler in your trunk, not in your tent. You can throw it in your RV because it’s hard-sided. You’re making things worse for the animals because they become habituated to your food being there. They don’t have to hunt for food or forage for food. They just see that blue thing with the white lid over there. They get used to eating from that. And as a side note, if you feed your dog but he/she doesn’t eat the whole bowl, and then you guys bail out and chipmunks come and steal it. It’s cute. It’s not. You’re not doing the chipmunks or raccoons any favors, because we know how much I hate raccoons. I don’t care if they’re cute.
Observing the Rules of the Road While Camping
Alright, next are vehicles and roads. A lot of people don’t seem to grasp the concept that the Ontario Highway Traffic Act applies inside Ontario Provincial parks. Whether it’s driving with a beer, whether it’s speeding, etc. I believe the speed limit in Ontario Parks is 20 kilometres per hour and very few people actually do 20 kilometres an hour.
Kids in the back of pickups are not allowed either.
Exactly! Which we see, oh my God, all the time. You know what? I’m in my 50s. I remember when we did that because we lived in the boonies. That seemed to be a mode of transportation. We also rode bikes without helmets and stuff like that. There’s a whole bunch of us with brain damage now. Okay, so there’s a reason that you don’t do things like that. I’m sure it was fun when I was a kid, but I understand that it’s still illegal to do so. At some point, it’s going to be a problem. So I would just highly recommend not doing it. The fines run from $85-225 bucks. Then there are also the wonderful demerit points for doing foolish things such as not stopping at a stop sign, or doing a rolling stop. Same with seat belts, just like it would apply in town. Right?
It might be more dangerous to speed in Ontario Provincial Parks because kids are running around everywhere. Yeah, and bikes,
Absolutely. And feeling free about doing other things. And they should be able to. They should be able to do that to be able to run around and be a little bit carefree because you’re paying attention. You’re following the rules, right? Just saying.
Camping with Pets at Ontario Provincial Parks
Pets, we have Farley, our 8-9-year-old puppy that comes with us. Your dog is not supposed to be on anything longer than a six-foot leash (two meters), at all times. Whether you’re on the campsite with them, or not. You can have them off-leash in designated off-leash areas. For exercise there’s a pet exercise area or on the Dog Beach, like the pet swimming area, you’re allowed to do that. But the rest of the park, no, you’re dog has to be on a leash. Don’t take your pet to the regular beach. That’s probably not going to go well. You’re going to annoy people and it’s a fineable offense. Don’t leave your dog unattended, even if it’s on its six-foot leash. Don’t walk away from your site and leave your dog there alone. You’re not allowed to. A lot of dogs become barky when they don’t have their people around. So multiple fines there. The six-foot leash thing, they can be pretty enforcement-oriented about things like that. Because we’ve seen it happen.
Fireworks in Ontario Provincial Parks
Fireworks. It’s a one-word comment – No. That’s it. The fine for possession of fireworks in Ontario Provincial Park is 100 bucks. If you ignite those fireworks, it’s 150 bucks. So it’s actually 250 because you get binged for possessing them, then you get binged for setting them off. Fireworks. No, that’s just the stupidest thing ever. I realize that’s my opinion. I don’t care if I offend you. Don’t do it.
Drones and Ontario Provincial Parks
Because I’ve watched camping videos on occasion. One of the things I noticed is gorgeous, high overhead, big beautiful shots from drones. Guess what? Every one of those shots, they’re not allowed to do it. You can get permission from the park superintendent to fly a drone in an Ontario Provincial Park, but my understanding is that that literally never happens. It’s a federal law. You can’t fly an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV over designated areas, including airports, and provincial parks. So if you were to manage to get permission from the park superintendent, good for you, then you can take those big, beautiful shots. But my understanding is that that’s not a thing. They won’t let you do that sort of stuff. If you’re somebody who is authorized, like a firefighter, they do use drones to look for fires. They do fire suppression, that sort of deal. Okay, then you can fly a drone over the park. Everybody else? No. Aside from which, when you post that video you’ve literally just shot yourself in the foot because you just provided them with the proof that they need to charge you with that offense.
Respect Nature While Camping
Our final one. It’s a natural environment, don’t destroy it. Don’t cut branches off trees, don’t pick fruit or flowers, etc. One that I watch happen all the time is people dragging dead trees and whatnot out of the bush to their campfire. That’s a no-no, you’re not allowed to do that. You can do that in the backcountry. You can’t do that in the front country. You can’t do that while car camping. It’s meant to be a natural environment. They’re meant to decompose to provide more nutrients for the soil for future generations of plant growth. It’s a home for that little chipmunk that was stealing your dog food, insects, grubs, that sort of thing. It’s part of the natural environment, just leave it alone. Go buy your crappy wood from the Ontario Parks at the front office and watch that stuff, smoke, and spit. And of course, check your Facebook group for a local guy that’s outside the park that actually has decent wood. That’s your best bet. And on that note, I’m going to turn it over to Pamela.
I wanted to talk a little bit about trilliums since trilliums are Ontario’s provincial flower and spring is the time of year when you may spot trilliums out in the woods. We were taught as kids not to ever pick them because it was illegal and we were gonna go to jail. This is apparently not true, it never was actually. Although it was proposed as a law in 2009 it didn’t actually go through. But it is illegal in any Provincial Park or conservation area to remove or harm any plant tree or natural object. So in a Provincial Park, it is absolutely against the law for you to pick a Trillium. And aside from that, it’s not recommended to pick Trilliums because they only have a very short span where they can collect sunshine and water in order to survive for the rest of the year. So if you pick it, it may not survive. It can kill the entire plant, so we don’t ever want to pick them.
There is an interesting fact that I just read about Trillium seeds and how they get dispersed. They’re dispersed by ants through a process which is called myrmecochory. The ants are attracted to a protein-rich coating on the outside of the seeds. So they eat that and then carry the seed back to their nest. Through that process, they disperse the seeds and the seeds survive. I thought that was interesting.
Trilliums are apparently a favorite food for white-tailed deer. Ontario Parks will actually use Trillium counts as a way to determine how many white-tailed deer might be in the area. It’s not illegal to pick trilliums in your backyard but it’s not advised because you can kill the plant. It is illegal to pick anything or move anything or disturb anything inside of an Ontario provincial park.
Ferris Provincial Park
The other thing I wanted to mention was a little overnight trip that Brandon and I did many years ago to Ferris Provincial Park. Ferris is located outside of Campbellford, Ontario. The interesting thing about Ferris is that it has a big suspension bridge.
The suspension bridge goes over the Trent River Gorge. It’s actually kind of cool to go out onto the middle of the bridge and look out over the gorge.
There are hiking trails there. There are drumlins that were formed by the glaciers. Drumlins are hills that are shaped sort of like half of an egg. There is no swimming at Ferris, unfortunately, because you can’t swim in the Trent River. The current is too great, it would be dangerous to swim there. However, close by there are indoor and outdoor swimming areas that you could go to. We mainly used Ferris because we were looking for somewhere that was within driving distance of Toronto where we could drive stay overnight and come back and hike around and find some interesting things.
We found some old, decrepit, rusty playground equipment when we were out biking around. Proximity to Toronto was one of our main criteria and it was a different park that we hadn’t been to before. And the suspension bridge was pretty interesting to look at. So anyway, that is it for Ferris Provincial Park.
Alright, that’s it for us for today. Thank you for listening. We hope to connect with you somewhere on social media. We have The Campfire which is our public Facebook group. We have our Super Good Camping Facebook page, we have an Instagram page, we’ve got a Twitter account, and you can always visit our website or you can email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will talk to you again soon. Bye