Experiences in the park, like the sisters, vary greatly. Each one has their own personality and experiences.
Today’s very special post comes from three sisters: Ecological Student Elle Dresser of Fushimi Lake Provincial Park, Park Director Libbey Dresser at Fairbank Provincial Park, and Park Director Ivy Dresser at Wheatley Provincial Park.
Applications for our 2023 student jobs are now open! Learn more on our website.
With 19 seasons of park experience between my sisters and me, you would think that I (being the oldest sister) would have the most experience, however, that is not the case.
My parks journey began almost 10 years ago, five of which have been spent working for parks. No matter what life’s obstacles got in my way, I always wanted to get back to the parks.
At 15, I packed my bags and moved 14 hours from home, to Fushimi Lake Provincial Park, to become a gate attendant.
At the time, Fushimi had no reservation system and camping permits were handwritten. Oh, how times have changed…
Nagagamisis for now
It was this summer that my love for parks developed and I knew I had to return. Instead of returning to Fushimi, I changed gears and headed west toward Nagagamisis Provincial Park.
Nagagamisis is a beautiful park located in the middle of nowhere.
With no cell service or internet, it’s the best vacation spot to be away from your phone.
As a gate attendant, I met people from all over Canada and loved hearing the stories of their travels.
Not only did I meet people who were camping, but I also got to meet students from all over Ontario.
We all have different interests and backgrounds, but after living together for two months every year, we are inseparable.
In 2019, I was offered a position as a park warden in Nagagamisis. I was terrified but also very excited!
This job allowed me to be outside all day while interacting with campers.
As much as I love Northern Ontario, I’m a Southern Ontario girl at heart. I needed a change of scenery, which brought me to Fairbank Provincial Park this year.
This little park, located just 45 minutes from Sudbury, has brought me a lot of happiness since I’ve worked here.
Ontario Parks has taught me a lot about myself and without it I would not be the person I am today.
Although I am only 23 years old, I have realized that life is about the people you meet and the memories you make.
The memories I have made in the parks will last a lifetime.
the story of ivy
The summer of 9th grade I traveled over 800 miles for a summer job… weird right?!
I left my hometown of Wheatley, Ontario for two months to work on Lake Fushimi in Hearst, Ontario.
My first summer I worked as a doorman. While I enjoyed interacting with the campers, I wanted to work outside…not in an office.
I was homesick most of the summer and had a hard time adjusting to living far from home in a staff house with ten other students.
It was a long two months, but the best experience a young teenager could have!
Parks called me at home
So even though I swore I wouldn’t return the following year, my heartstrings pulled me back the following June to work in maintenance.
I also worked in maintenance the next two summers! From cleaning bathrooms, cutting down trees, unloading pallets of firewood, building a playground, mowing grass, and everything in between, working in maintenance at Ontario Parks was probably my favorite job so far.
This opinion can be related to the wonderful people I worked with.
After my first year of college, I needed money (desperately) and was hired again as maintenance at Lake Fushimi, but for a longer contract.
From maintenance to park guardian
About a month before I left, Fushimi’s superintendent called me and offered me the first full-time park warden position Fushimi had in several years.
I was excited, nervous and scared, but I accepted!
I was terrified, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life! For three seasons I worked as a park ranger at Lake Fushimi.
As the years went by, I went from being the youngest in the teachers’ house to the oldest. I went from having a supervisor every day to working alongside these same supervisors. I went from day shifts to evening shifts.
I connected with the campers, bonded with my fellow staff members, and made lifelong friends. All this changed this year.
After seven seasons at Lake Fushimi, I decided it was time to close that chapter and stay home for a summer.
This decision was difficult and teary-eyed. I told myself I needed a break from the parks, just for a change.
Working at Wheatley
However, in March I was told that Wheatley was hiring a park ranger. Yes, you got it right, another season in the parks for me!
From living in the tranquility of northern Ontario for seven seasons to now being home on the great Lake Erie, I can honestly say that Ontario Parks has changed my life.
Thank you to everyone who has made my experience at Ontario Parks as wonderful as it has been.
If I had one piece of advice over the past eight years, it would be to apply to work in a provincial park.
You never know where the parks will take you, but I promise if you have an experience like mine, you won’t regret it.
As the baby in my family, I often don’t make my own decisions. Most of the time they are made for me.
With two sisters working 14-hour jobs away from home at Lake Fushimi and Nagagamisis, I spent a lot of time walking around Ontario with my parents to visit them during the summers.
As fate would have it, I was finally old enough to get my first real job. Although my sisters paved the way for me to travel to Lake Fushimi, I couldn’t have been more excited to go.
Like my sisters, my first job at Lake Fushimi was as a gate attendant. I met campers from all over Canada, and even a couple who rented a motorhome in Germany!
While I loved being immersed in nature, I knew I wanted to be closer to home, which led me on rare occasions to make my own decision.
Find my own way
I applied for a job at Wheatley, a park that gave me what I wanted: to be closer to home (a seven-minute drive from home).
I worked at Wheatley for two years on the Discovery programme, which involved running different educational programmes, encouraging children and their families to explore, observe and discover.
After my third year at Ontario Parks, I began studying Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo.
I realized how lucky I was to already have a job in a field related to my career. I knew I wanted to move up in the parks, so when the opportunity came up to return to Lake Fushimi in a green position, I knew I couldn’t pass it up!
Now here I am. My third year in the Green Position and my sixth year in Ontario Parks.
I’ve made some amazing memories with some amazing people. I am very lucky to have two great sisters who have broken so many barriers and become guardians of a male-dominated industry.
I hope to have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps and become the third Dresser sister to become a Guardian!
I am very grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to me at Ontario Parks and for everyone who has encouraged me to take advantage of them.
The adventure of your life.
Like the Dresser sisters, many find the parks a life-changing experience.
Working for Ontario Parks is an opportunity to work outdoors and do your part to protect Ontario’s natural environment.
If you are an adventure seeker and nature lover, this could be the job for you.
Do you want to join us for the 2023 summer season? Applications are now open! Apply today!