Parklands News & Notices

25th Anniversary Story Highlights

Thank you to everyone who submitted their North Frontenac Parklands stories for the 25th Anniversary Draw. The following are some of the highlights from the submitted stories.

It was in 2007 that I first visited North Frontenac Parklands.  My high school gym class from Carleton Place High School did a 2-day senior trip there every semester.  My best friend was in my class and we were so excited to camp!  I can’t quite remember where we launched, but we stayed at 2 sites on Crotch Lake and had the most amazing time.  It was also my first canoe trip and I wouldn’t have wanted it to be anywhere else.  I remember falling asleep to the sounds of loons calling to each other, waking up to the most beautiful sunrise, having a blast playing in the water together, and having the best laughs with my friend.

Unfortunately, my bestie tragically lost her life in 2013.  Since her passing, I’m always searching for ways to feel close to her again.  In 2019, my husband bought his first kayak.  He joined some fishing tournaments with a friend, and eventually got me in his friends’ second kayak.  We’ve both fallen in love with paddling and really enjoy spending time together on the water.  In 2020, I got my first kayak, and spent many weeks in local bodies of water paddling around and fishing with my partner.  He had the idea of maybe taking a day trip to Crotch Lake, as he had never been, and one day we did!  We launched on the south side and spent the day fishing and paddling, had a picnic lunch and had a quick dip before heading back to the launch.  It brought back all the wonderful memories I once shared there with my friend.  I could feel her watching down, smiling.  There is no doubt in my mind that she would have loved to revisit that special place. I set out on a mission, to find that very first site we stayed on in 2007, and had so much fun on.  That was enough for me, I KNEW we would be back another time.

We took our first family camping trip in 2020 at Crotch Lake!  One canoe and one kayak was all we needed to get us and our 2 kiddos and gear out to enjoy the beautiful parklands!  It was a rough start to the first day with rain on the paddle out, but it quickly cleared up for a gorgeous evening.  Our son was able to catch fish right off the rocks, and our daughter was in the water swimming as soon as we got to the first site, and by 7 a.m. each morning. I feel so lucky to be able to share this special place with my children. Since that first trip we’ve been back to the area many times both to Crotch Lake and to some new lakes, and in 2022 we finally found that first site from 2007 I wanted to find so badly.  Last summer, our family of 4 booked that special site and set out on 4 kayaks.  Our daughter did excellent paddling all by herself for the first time and is looking forward to more trips in the future. We have even introduced the area to a few friends and family members. My besties 2 daughters got to join us on another trip last year as well. ❤️   

I cannot say enough about how much we’ve enjoyed every site we’ve been to, and how awesome and friendly the ‘park rangers’ are.  Thank you so much to all staff who organize, maintain, and keep the parklands beautiful every year.  Every summer we look forward to our visits to the park, and this year is no different.  We cannot wait to see what memories we can make in 2024. See you soon NFPL!

 ~~ Diana M.


May 21, 2022. Big Gull Lake. Site 24.

My second morning on the lake started so beautifully. I made coffee and watched a pair of ducks carrying on their morning routine, observing how very protective of her he was.

I made more coffee, poured in some sweetened condensed milk this time. I stirred water into the flour, baking powder and salt mix I’d brought to fry some banik. When replete, I sat down in the timid rays of sun with the newest book by a Québec author I seem to always select when going camping. It was entitled La femme qui fuit (The Woman Who Escapes). How fitting!

The book was hard to put down, yet my kayak too was calling. This was my first real outing with it and the first one that season of course. So, I roused myself to go explore the south shore.
I’d launched my gear from Helen Lane on the Wednesday; I wanted to see if I could make it all the way to the other boat launch. I don’t think I realized it was more than 12 kilometres away…
I went as far as I knew I could before hunger would kick in. Then I turned back and paddled another two good hours. But since I never let my stomach dictate, I decided to go get more wood for the campfire before going back to the site. I had already docked on the bigger island across from “mine” the day before, so I traced a direct diagonal path from the end of Long Island, under clear skies.

It was only about three quarters of the way across that I noticed the sky turn leaden.
When I approached the neighbouring island (let’s call it Goliath) to my camp island (let’s call it David – look at a map and you’ll understand what I mean), it was clear something was abnormal. First, I thought I should definitely go back to my tent and secure my belongings because the winds were starting to get stronger. But I was actually drifting to the corner of Goliath and so I had no choice but to go where I was planning to originally and take refuge on the edge of… a forest!

I wasn’t panicking, but I was definitely not in control any longer. My kayak banged against the mangrove-like branches. I managed to set foot on the shore and to slide my kayak between three trunks in such a way that it wouldn’t tumble. I turned around and couldn’t believe it. I had not dared look up yet, too busy reaching firm land. Well, the vision was apocalyptic!

The firm land I thought I was on started moving. I grabbed two trunks with both arms and faced the winds and looked at the storm in the eye while being laid at a 45-degree angle from standing. Apparently, the winds reached up to 190 kilometres per hour that day. It’s a good thing I was in shape.

The shore was inundated with water penetrating underneath the terrain. Two massive trees fell some 15 metres away from me. I could not quite comprehend what was truly happening since I was slapped and drenched with rain, and shivering a little, dressed in what was just a swimsuit and a life jacket.

This outfit is not that surprising at the end of May. But considering how Wikipedia puts it now, it was actually relevant: “At 11 am [the day of the “Canadian derecho”], Toronto Pearson Airport hit 29.3 °C (84.7 °F), three degrees shy of the record for that date, with a humidex of 36 °C (97 °F). Ottawa-Gatineau hit 31.5 °C (88.7 °F) at 2 pm, one degree shy of the record for that date, with a humidex of 38 °C (100 °F).”*

And I was sort of… in between?

I couldn’t think of anything (not even hunger whereas ordinarily by then, I would have been ravenous) except for my dear Swiss Army knife my parents had got me when I was 13, some 30 years earlier. I had left it behind where I had set up camp. No doubt it would be gone with the winds by now, along with my tent and some light equipment.

And then it brutally stopped.

I cleared the grounds of all the fallen branches and stuck them in my kayak. I maneuvered to extricate myself and went back to check the damage on little island “David”. In fact, it was quite miraculous: everything was still there, including my cherished knife. And so I started a fire, cooked dinner and decided to sit down and watch the sunset. The peace on the lake was in such contrast with the earlier hours!

A friendly motorboat crew soon showed up and came alongside my camp to warn me there had been damage at the parking lot, and they could take me back if I wanted to find out if my car was one of the ones hit.

Of course, in my head, the “storm” had been specific to where I was and I certainly couldn’t imagine home (one hour east) had been affected, let alone the entire province! So I replied: “Thank you kindly, but I still have another two nights here and I won’t waste them even if my car’s crashed. North Frontenac Park Lands is exactly where I want to be.”

My evening on the lake ended so beautifully.

~~ Emilie D.


It Took a Village: The helpful people of North Frontenac stepped up to help our mistake-prone paddling group through a long, hot day on the Mississippi River Canoe Route

I remember it as if it was yesterday, that sizzling hot North Frontenac Saturday in August of 2021. That evening, the rocks at island site #21 were still warm to the touch, I had a book in hand and a cup of cold water by my side, not a care in the world. Okay, so it had taken 10.5 hours to get here from nearby Kashwakamak to this north Crotch Lake island. But for the help of numerous North Frontenac residents, that day could have gone very, very sideways.

Our group of seven – two canoes and a kayak – launched on Friday from the Myers Cave put-in at the western end of Kashwakamak Lake on a two-night, three-day journey along a stretch of the Mississippi Canoe Route through to Crotch Lake. Foreshadowing what was to come, when we unloaded the car we promptly discovered that one of our 10-litre containers of water had emptied onto the floor. No worries, we had another 10-litre jug and two high-end water purification systems with us. What could go wrong?

Day One went well as we paddled the 15-km length of Kashwakamak Lake with the wind at our backs, reaching our first night’s destination, site #19, in good time. Having drunk most of our initial 10-litre supply, we set out immediately to purify water. But, as many campers will know, drip systems work really well – for about the first 10 litres, when the filters inevitably slow to just a trickle. We had begun a pattern of never fully catching up to our water needs.

When we set out at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, we had 10 litres in hand. Did I mention it was hot? Really hot. And yet, all we had to do was get three adults and four teenagers down 20 km of river and across five portages totalling 1400 metres. And then, at Crotch Lake, we could lay back and watch the water supply trickle in….. maybe.

The first 290-metre portage around Kashwakamak Dam came early and went fast. Things began to go sideways at the ensuing 500-metre portage around Logjam Rapids, when I, the lead canoehead, plodded blindly past the put-in, eventually reaching a No Trespassing sign. What? Nevertheless, I plowed on, eventually reaching a dock below a newly constructed cottage. The kindly owner noticed me approach – the big, red canoe on my head, I guess. He said this happens all the time, so drop your canoe on the dock and hustle back and stop the others from coming this far because that put-in is poorly marked. I thanked him profusely, while sweating profusely, and managed to stop the rest of the group from making my mistake. Turns out, at the 500-metre mark, you had to turn abruptly down an unforgivingly steep bank and launch off some equally unforgiving rocks. It proved challenging, as a 100-pound teenager nearly lost her battle with a 50-pound canoe and that bank. It was now 11 a.m., very hot, and we were already low on drinking water.

Back on the river, there was nowhere to escape the heat and sun. Finally, about one o’clock, having negotiated another 120-metre portage at Farm Lake Dam, we reached the bridge under Hwy 508 and paused for lunch. We weren’t even halfway to Crotch Lake and we were out of water. That’s when my intrepid and thirsty wife, Sarah, grabbed a container and walked up to the road to see who she could find. The only game in town was the Post Office. “Nowhere to get water nearby,” said the kindly postman, “But look, I filled up this 2-litre coke bottle at the spring on the way into town. Take it, it’s hot out there.” Never has water tasted so good. Still, it didn’t go far amongst seven thirsty paddlers, so we determined as we set off that we would and ask for more water as soon as we saw a cottage along the way. What could go wrong?

Not long after leaving the 508 bridge, we reached Mud Lake, and made yet another mistake. Sense a pattern here? Maybe it was the black bear we saw splashing across the shallow wild-rice filled waters, but we chose the wrong channel through Mud Lake, taking the shallow left fork into the heart of the rice instead of the nice deep channel to the right. What a slog! We did almost as much pushing as paddling. And yet we could see deeper water just over there, so we foolishly kept going for well over an hour before we reached deep water again. Did I mention it was hot? And that — once again — we were out of water…

Minutes after freeing ourselves from the rice, we pulled into a cottage where we could see the owners on the lawn. Umm, we have used up all of our water in the heat, do you suppose you could spare us a little? Well, not only did these kindly people say yes, they grabbed a hose and filled every container we had with delicious, cold water. Thank you, thank you, thank you!.
By now, it was mid-afternoon. Our water problem was solved, but we were still tormented by the unseasonably hot weather and still had almost half of our journey to go. Finally, as dinner hour approached, we sighted Sidedam Rapids ahead and behind it, Whitefish Rapids. Yeah! Portage these and we’d be in Crotch Lake!

At Sidedam, we scouted the right bank for a portage, to no avail. Thing is, on the left bank there was a nice put-in – to exit which we had to pass through someone’s campsite. Umm, do you mind if we portage through here. No problem, said the kindly campers.

Now we just had to hump the canoes 300-plus metres down the road past two sets of rapids and we were home free. Ah, but we had now been battling ourselves and the elements for almost nine hours, and mutiny was afoot. Thinking fast, I asked yet another set of campers if we could re-launch from their site, thus knocking a couple hundred metres off the portage. And just as had happened all day long as we bumbled along, some kindly people stepped up to save us from ourselves. Sure, launch here, take your time, you look beat. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Back in the water just above Whitefish Rapids, I promised my group that this was the last portage – a short one – and then a wee 45-minute paddle down the lake to our campsite. For the first time all day, I hadn’t lied.

We made it to #21 at 6:30 p.m., 10.5 hours after we set out. To a person, we jumped into the water and thanked our lucky stars for the many kind and generous people that had helped us that day.

Not surprisingly, three years on, the story of that day is one of our best to tell. As difficult as it was, it was what memories are made of. Thank you, residents, cottagers, and fellow campers of North Frontenac!

~~ Brad A.


When we came in from fishing a couple older guys went by in their boat and seen the 5 pound pickerel we were off loading from the boat. They yelled over and asked if they could get a picture taken with the fish……we thought it was kind of weird but said sure. They came a shore and both smiling from ear to ear and said this was great! The guy said we’ve been coming here for years and our wives don’t believe we come fishing. Hahaha, was a good laugh for the day.

~~ Darrell C.


For Father’s Day, we had agreed to purchase something that would bring us a little closer to nature and give me an opportunity to pass on a lifelong skill; we decided to buy a canoe. 
 We set off for our first canoe camping adventure (as a family) in the serene North Frontenac Parklands. Keeping it simple for our first adventure, we set off for Crotch Lake, Campsite 47, chosen for proximity to Ottawa, its pristine water, rocky shoreline and promise of a quiet retreat. I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy the new canoe than being surrounded by nature with my wife and our two daughters (6 and 8 at the time).

 Our excitement was slightly dampened by the forecast, which predicted a rainy weekend. Yet, equipped with waterproof gear and a resilient attitude, we were determined not to let the weather dampen our spirits. Upon arrival, the lake greeted us with its mist-covered waters, a sight so peaceful it immediately washed away any lingering disappointments about the rain.
 Setting up camp was an adventure, teaching the kids how to setup a tent and build their first campfire, without logs from the camp store. As we settled in, fishermen passed our site, their expressions a mix of determination and disappointment. They spoke of their luckless endeavors, not having caught a single fish that weekend.

 The next morning, amidst the soft patter of rain, my six-year-old daughter, Katherine, declared it was her turn to try fishing. Clad in her bright pink raincoat, she wielded her mini kids’ fishing rod from Canadian Tire, with a seriousness that belied her years as we set out in the canoe. I paddled the canoe with a proud smile on my face, as she dropped her line into the deeper waters between Site 47 and Site 48.

 Time seemed to stand still, the only sound the rhythmic dance of raindrops on the lake’s surface. Suddenly, Katherine’s tiny rod bent, yet we all assumed it was nothing significant, rather a snag from the bottom.  With encouragement at her side, she reeled in her catch with determination.  To our collective astonishment, Katherine had caught a walleye, a beautiful 2.5lbs fish, the very prize the seasoned fishermen had sought earlier in the weekend.

We all buzzed with excitement; my heart swelled with pride. The prospect of having fresh walleye for dinner thrilled me, a perfect Father’s Day feast provided by my daughter’s skill and patience. Yet, as I approached to help her with her catch, I saw a resolve in Katherine’s eyes that gave me pause.

With a wisdom that seemed beyond her years, Katherine insisted we release the walleye back into the lake. Her decision was firm, a gesture of respect for the life she had momentarily reeled to the surface. Reluctantly, but filled with admiration for her compassion, I helped her return the walleye to its home. As it swam away, I realized that the true gift of this Father’s Day was not the fish itself, but the lesson of kindness and respect for nature my daughter had imparted.

That weekend, despite the rain and the released fish, became etched in my memory as an unforgettable adventure. It wasn’t just about camping or fishing; it was a celebration of family, of learning from each other, and of creating unforgettable memories at Campsite 47.

~~Kris R.


I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in North Frontenac when my parents would send us up to our grandparents (who lived there) every summer. I know my late Grandfather Bud Clayton would be very proud of the conservation efforts you guys do, as he loved North Frontenac dearly, he was even the mayor up there for many years!

One summer camping trip I will never forget was when myself and 5 friends had a booking on Crotch Lake. Despite the forecast calling for torrential rain all weekend, we still braved the elements in our three canoes! We were rewarded with some sun on the Sunday, but howling winds coming down the lake; from the direction we were headed- the boat launch! We gathered ourselves for what would be a long battle back, only to make it ~100m off shore and roll all three canoes minutes later in the choppy waves! With our gear scattered in the lake, we clung to the boats and tried to swim for land. Some fellow campers saw we were in trouble and jumped in their motorboat to come to our aid. They ended up gathering up our floating coolers and bags and helping us flip and climb back into our canoes. The good folks of North Frontenac raised our hopes in humanity that day, and helped us return home again (soaked, exhausted and hungry). We all smile to this day looking back on that camping trip.

We live in BC now, but whenever we come back try to take highway 7 and visit that place full of tranquil lakes, good memories and quiet sunsets. Thanks for looking after it while we’re away.

~~ Owen C.


My husband started going to Crotch Lake 50 years ago with his family. Over the years after his parents passed he took me. (I need washroom and shower) so for me it was a major shock to my system lol.

We go to Crotch Lake every year for a few weeks.

After 20 years together we decided to get married. We got married on site 69 on Crotch Lake. It was the most beautiful ceremony and it was about us and what was important. We had 10 people and we boated them all out and it was amazing

~~ Kelly T.


Camping at Round Schooner Lake
My wife and I had never heard a whippoorwill song bird sing before.  We were very excited and spotted it close to our campsite, it was Dusk at the time.

It’s a loud vocal song bird and it continued to sound off when we were in the tent ready for bed. We recorded it’s song from inside the tent with our phone and played it back to it for fun.

The darn bird dove down from it’s perch and struck the tent out of mating frustration or territorial reasons?

Anyways it sure freaked us out and we had a laugh and let it be.

Whippoorwills we guess don’t sound off all night and soon flew away.

~~ Sara and Mike C.


My wife Julie and I discovered North Frontenac Parklands during the pandemic. My father and I went fishing in the area before the creation of the NFPL so I was familiar with some of the lakes, but it had been more than 30 years since I’d had that experience. It was remarkable to see that the lakes were in such beautiful condition after all these years. The quality of the launch sites and campsites with visits from park staff was the clincher on our decision to start dedicating several weeks of our summers to being in the NFPL.

We have enjoyed so many incredible adventures over the last three years, it is difficult to choose just one story. From hiking the top of the cliffs of Round Schooner Lake, to the majestic quiet of Govan Lake, to our surprise visit of Trumpeter Swans on Redhorse Lake, to the magical turquoise waters of Mair Lake, our biggest pleasure always comes from wildlife encounters.

As paddlers who use a double kayak and an inflatable raft for our NFPL adventures, we tend to prefer the smaller lakes, but we’ve also learned that the careful management of campsite locations at larger likes like Crotch Lake means that wildlife viewing opportunities are anywhere and everything in North Frontenac Parklands.

In 2023 we decided to plant ourselves right in the middle of Crotch Lake (no jokes or puns, please) at a site 26, the thinking being that as paddlers it would be a great launch site for exploring every corner of this huge lake with endless shoreline to explore. This proved true, and we also had an amazing experience with the wildlife.

The first experience of note was the presence of bald eagles in and around our camp. On the very first evening they flew right through camp, and the next day they spent considerable time in the tops of the trees. I captured endless clear photos of their antics.

We had heard from another camper that there were some possible locations for viewing river otters, our favourite. While none of the tips paid off, the day we decided on a long paddle to the southern half of the lake we were rewarded for our efforts. After a very long paddle in the heat of the day, we stopped for a drink about 20 metres from shore in McIlquham Bay, and suddenly realized we were being watched. A lone river otter proceeded to pop up all around us, seemingly teasing the photographer as her or she would establish their presence, and then disappearing as soon as the camera came into focus.

We thought this would be our strongest memory from this trip, but you truly never know. On our last full day, we were just taking our time exploring the area down by the rapids at the north launch site, and coming to rest in a quiet bay, found ourselves witnesses to an epic battle between a snake and a broad-shouldered hawk! It was hard to understand what we were seeing a fist, because other than the hawk obviously having a battle with something in the long grass, we could not see what we later realized was a garter snake. We did not think a garter snake could be a match for a hawk of this size, but between the ability to coil and bite (even though the bite is non-venomous) the hawk eventually gave up and the snake slithered off, triumphantly having fought to live another day.

This is just a brief selection of memories from just one trip. When you see bald eagles, otters, loons, and a hawk fighting a snake, that checks a lot of boxes for a camping experience where our expectations are always just to relax, breathe clean air, and swim in pristine waters.

~~ Keenan W.


The highlight of my summers for the past 25 years has been a canoe camping trip with my closest women friends. We’ve had many favourite sites in North Frontenac that we returned to year after year – Long Schooner #12, Round Schooner#8, Crotch Lake#42, and many more.

We would start planning as soon as we booked our site – on Nov. 1st, the day that reservations opened. We always booked it around the Perseid Meteor Shower in mid-August and as we got older our canoes got heavier with comfort accessories – thicker mattresses, camp chairs, bigger tents, special foods and drinks.

Now we’re all in our mid-seventies and the hardest part is getting the canoes on and off our vehicles. Last year a couple of kind and generous (and younger) boaters assisted us at the canoe launch. They even transported some of our supplies to our campsite.

We are now down to three hardy souls and hoping we can still do it. Every year we wonder if it will be our last and every year we decide we can do it one more time.

~~ Brenda L.


Howard Rock: A Short Story

It was my first experience booking a campsite using North Frontenac Park Lands’ “Campsite Booking by Map” system. I opened the site without realizing that the “Choose your Lake” setting defaults to “All Lakes.’ Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience? I found myself staring at a series of crowded constellations made up of tiny orange, numbered triangles. In fact, there were so many triangles I couldn’t see the lakes themselves. Not a problem. I soon found ‘Crotch Lake,’ my desired destination, based on rave reviews, and began my virtual tour. In case you’re wondering, the ‘Crotch’ in Crotch Lake refers to a tree …

There were many compelling sites to choose from, but after some deliberation, “Howard Rock” seemed like a solid bet for two old friends who have spent a lifetime leading backcountry adventures, but now seek nothing more than a quiet, simple little get-away.

Howard Rock is just that: a rock, albeit a beautiful one, thanks to a series of glaciers that carved out the Canadian Shield some time back. I should say, in case there are geologists among us, that Howard Rock, like much of the bedrock surrounding Crotch Lake, is apparently composed of “mafic metaplutonic rocks and the Cross Lake Pluton granodiorite of the Mazinaw Terranne.” (It feels good to get that off my chest.)

Howard Rock. Small. Scenic. Lovely, with standard issue “Group of Seven” White Pines growing, improbably but beautifully, at all angles out of the rock. (A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris would no doubt have quickly run out of trees to paint on Howard Rock.) Howard Rock. Just 2 campsites. Number 10 and Number 11. A short paddle from the landing at the north end of Crotch Lake. Late September. Summer quietly handing over the reins to Autumn, with no one quite noticing that anything has really changed yet.

Perfect. And so our story begins …

The two old friends load their canoe with essential camping gear—coffee and acoustic guitars being the most important tools required for this particular trip. They were already looking forward to a couple of days of leisurely talk, perhaps a morning dip in the lake, possibly even a nap or 2, and, of course, some songwriting fueled by ‘campfire coffee,’ and a night sky full of stars to wish upon.

Howard Rock. Did I mention it’s a small rock? On a big lake? The 2 protagonists in our story could see lightning flashes off to the south but it felt more like a pleasant, if somewhat haunting, light show, off in the distance. A bit of light entertainment, so to speak, as they broke out their guitars around the campfire.

A few drops of rain do not deter seasoned campers. Sure they had to pack the guitars away, but they hadn’t come all this way to run to their tents and hide … had they? Isn’t it amazing how fast weather can travel over a body of water? And isn’t it astounding how distant sheet lightning suddenly becomes lightning-strikes that feel as though they are about to hit the place where you’re sitting. And isn’t it incredible, the way that rain suddenly becomes RAIN. Astounding, too, how fast a person can actually run over hard scrabble terrain in the dark, knowing the ‘safety’ of a tent is close at hand. And isn’t it interesting, too, how feeble and fragile a tent can feel when you’re trapped inside it during a deluge? Perhaps you’ve had this feeling too: you’re in a tiny tent that you set up on a lovely big rock outcrop because the view is so awesome, only to find yourself wondering how your tent has been transformed into a movie set, with no ‘stunt double’ in sight. Cue the thunder and lightning. Stage hands throw buckets and buckets (and buckets) of water at the tent, to the point where you’re thinking it’s only a matter of time before your well-rated Mountain Equipment Coop tent will collapse. Howard Rock. The ‘Rock of Ages’? Our two friends are not particularly religious souls but at one point, a bolt of lightning, accompanied by a hellacious thunderclap, landed so close to the tent that prayer seemed like a very good idea.

Sing along if you know the words,

While I draw this fleeting breath/When mine eyes shall close in death
When I soar to worlds unknown/See thee on thy judgment throne
Rock of Ages, cleft for me/Let me hide myself in thee.

Howard Rock. Next morning. Campsite #s 10 and 11 are surely lucky numbers. A sky full of blue has painted itself over the little island. This is why local outdoor adventure-types  choose to stay 2 nights rather than just one. There is blessed relief in pulling everything out of a rain-soaked tent, and spreading it out to dry, while you busy yourselves making  breakfast and begin to think about the beautiful day that stretches out before you. It’s enough to make someone want to write a song. Or, perhaps, this time, a story …

Howard Rock. With Grace and Good Fortune on their side, this story of Howard Rock would not need to be rewritten as Howards End. In fact, they would return the following year for another visit with Howard. Long live canoe trips. Long live North Frontenac Park Lands.

~~ Gary R.


For years my husband and I camped at North Frontenac Park Lands to celebrate our wedding anniversary at the end of August. One year we left our home too late to safely canoe to our campsite, so we spent the night in a hotel in Perth. We arrived at the north end entry point early in the morning and enjoyed a leisurely canoe paddle to our campsite.

As we were pulling up to the campsite, another couple launched their canoe from our site. They explained they had arrived late the evening before and it was too dark to canoe to their site. They noticed this site was empty and they wisely camped there for the night. We told our story and mentioned it was our anniversary. The couple paddled away, but moments later stopped and yelled back to us that there was a blueberry pie in the tree. We looked up and saw a plastic bag carefully strung up into the tree to stop the bears from getting the pie. They said keep the pie and happy anniversary. Hard to say no to a blueberry pie.

This was not the only gift they left us. I unfortunately had removed our matches from their strike anywhere box. The box was falling apart so I stuck the matches in a bag. Big mistake. My husband was not able to light the matches. He noticed the couple had used the fire pit that morning and he was able to feed the fire twigs to rekindle the fire. We were thankful for the series of events that resulted in this lovely couple staying the night at our campsite. The blueberry pie was delicious and it became our tradition to bring pie on our anniversary camping trip.

Thanks to all the employees at North Frontenac Park Lands for providing the best camping experiences to so many people these last 25 years.

~~Mary Ann R.


It was summer 2022 and our first time visiting any of the North Frontenac parks. We had booked a site on Big Island at Crotch Lake. Our 14′ boat had no issues getting out to the campsite loaded down with all of our gear but with a 9.9hp motor, it was a longer trek than we anticipated from the north launch. When we eventually made it to the Big Island, we were greeted by a tall slab of granite sloping into the lake and the most picture perfect campsite we had ever seen.
We quickly set up camp so we could get out and fish before sunset. We enjoyed an evening of great fishing no more than 300 feet from our site, watched the sun go down and the bugs come out and that’s when we knew it was time to go start a fire. After a great meal in our bellies and it was bed time.

The next day we fished and explored the beautiful lake and the rest of the campsites for future reference knowing we would be back. As we were making our way down the lake, we saw someone on a small island site waving their arms frantically. Assuming someone was hurt, we rushed over as fast as our 9.9hp would let us. When we arrived, everyone was safe but it turned out a family was stranded as their starter battery had died overnight. Luckily, we had a trolling motor battery we could lend out. The family was able to start their boat and borrowed the battery in case the boat died on their way to the truck to get a spare battery.

Later that day, they found us on the lake to return our battery and thank us. We thought that was likely the last time we would see them.

We wrapped up another perfect day with some fishing and some dinner and went to bed for another great day of fishing ahead.

The next day, from the moment we got out on the lake, our motor was giving us trouble. We tried to troubleshoot it on the water but nothing seemed to work. It was dying when under heavy load. We opted for sticking around the island we were camped on and fished for a bit before the motor finally decided not to start at all. After 2 hours of troubleshooting and frustration, and despite having another night booked, we decided the safest choice would be to pack up and try to make our way back to the launch under trolling motor power before the wind picked up too much. This is when we learned that waves always look much smaller from a distance. Once we made our way out to the main basin of the lake, weighed down with all of our gear once again, we were being battered by 3-5 foot swells that started white capping. We were not moving fast enough and started to genuinely fear that the waves would break over the transom and sink the boat. This was about as scared as I have ever been on the water. As luck would have it however, a boat was speeding towards us in the distance. We now started frantically waving our arms in the air hoping for a tow back to the launch. As the boat got closer, it started to look very familiar as it was in fact the family we had lent the battery to. Without hesitation, they hooked a rope to us and towed us back to the launch where we all had a good laugh and safely loaded our boat back on the trailer to head home.

Although the trip didn’t end exactly as we planned, it was a fantastic trip that we will never forget.

Been back to Crotch Lake since and we truly love it.

~~Logan P.


Our family has been camping at Middlebranch (Lake Govan) since the road was so bad we carried chainsaws, winches, and chains in our 4 wheel drive truck to get there! We pitched a tent wherever and used a blow up float under our sleeping bags to get a good sleep. This was way before there were designated campsites and fees. Some earlier trips we camped under the hydro wires.

Our children and now our grandchildren meet there each year until covid happened, for our annual vacation. Kids learned to swim, to fish, to canoe, learned to be in nature, learned to keep campsites clean and respect the lake. Many fish stories have been told around the campfires, songs sung, world problems solved. The city kids watched the stars, planes and satellites that are not visible at home. We have pictures of the babies first dip in the lake, then first tooth lost, the first fish caught, the first rock caught trolling, jumping from the cliff, stopping at Nash island as Grandma does not swim and the sand is beautiful there.

We have progressed from tent to slide in truck camper, to hard top tent trailers, to Grandpas home-made truck rv as it got harder to get up off the ground!

One of the most amazing sites was watching the loons in a circle in front of site number 10 as an adult bird was teaching the young ones. They were not making a sound, then all of a sudden class was over and they were making so much noise, calling, flapping their wings, attempting to fly as they swam into the bay by the boat launch. We truly have not seen that many loons at one time since. The memories made will last forever.

~~ Connie E.


In 2016, I went on my first camping trip in North Frontenac Parklands. A year before, my mother had taken up kayaking with her friend. Starting out with little paddles, their love for being on the water and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature grew so much that their couple-hour trips turned into full day voyages, with them setting out at sunrise and heading in at sundown. And then pretty soon, these day-long excursions turned into multi-day trips. Enter me. I was convinced that spending the weekend on a little island with my mother and her friend would be just the thing I needed to unwind from my studies, and they were right.

For eight years, the three of us have spent our summers paddling every inch of the lakes we visit – examining the dynamic structures of the shoreline, and the textures and colours of yellow-green moss and lichen. We often spend more time staring through the clear water, admiring the way the sun reflects down to the lake bed, than we do paddling. At sundown, we sit on the rocky shore listening to the sounds of the loons, watching them dive and reappear metres away. We count the number of fish we see springing out of the water to catch insects, and look for the campfires that slowly appear from across the lake as the sun falls behind the trees.

The moment we push off from the boat launch, any thought of time and routine disappear. Our relationships morph into a sisterhood built on our love of the nature around us, the stories we have made and the laughter we have shared. I am so grateful to have the relationship that I do with my mother and friend. It is one that is wholly unique to us.

Thinking back on all of the stories we have made together, I still laugh at the time my mother forgot to pack matches and then tried to convince us north was south before realising her compass was upside down. I laugh at all of the widely inappropriate jokes we made about Crotch Lake, and the time I chased a raccoon that had absconded with the pots in the middle of the night. I feel like I am still reeling from the mid-lake discovery of a hitchhiking frog in my kayak this past summer (he was safely returned to land).

No matter how heavy the rain has fallen, how hard the wind has blown, or how bad my directions to the boat launch were, the three of us have proven ourselves to be strong, capable and determined. I will forever be grateful for our kayaking sisterhood and the beautiful backdrop on which it was made. Thank you North Frontenac.

“Lost Together since 2016”

~~Morgan L.

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