Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024
canoe resting on shore of lake

In 1970, Canada, like much of the world, switched to the metric system.

It actually makes a lot more sense than the imperial system; 10 units for one larger unit, instead of divisions of 12?

It’s time for us at Ontario Parks to make the change.

Currently, only three countries in the world use imperial measurement (feet, miles, pounds) as their national measurement standard: the United States of America, Liberia, and Burma.

Map of the world, highlighting nations that use the imperial measurement.Canada officially switched to the metric system in 1970

How does the imperial system work?

A little information for you: one mile is equal to 1.6 km, one foot is equal to 30.48 cm, one pound is equal to 453.592 grams, etc.

If you grew up with the metric system, imperial doesn’t really make sense, but ten millimeters per centimeter, 100 centimeters per meter, and one thousand meters per kilometer do make sense to us!

Premetric Provincial Parks

The first Ontario park to be established was in 1893 with Algonquin, then Rondeau Provincial Park in 1894 and Quetico Provincial Park in 1909. At that time, everything was done in the imperial system, so we can’t blame the people from the time when it was about naming things using this unit of measurement.

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Today, however, we have the opportunity to modernize some lake names by converting them to a metric naming standard.

This may seem awkward, but below we have some fantastic examples that roll off the tongue. We’re sure they will be historically accepted over time, although you may need a new map or be able to do quick conversions to know where you are.

Three Mile Lake – Northwest Algonquin Provincial Park

This lake was named with extraordinary precision by surveyor James Fitzgerald in 1881; the exact distance from the mouth of the lake at the northwest end to the portage is three miles.

canoe resting on the lake shore

This spring, when park rangers come to clear the portages and maintain the campgrounds, they will rename it “Three Mile Lake.” While this is a little complicated and less precise, we think everyone will get used to it quickly. Inevitably, you’ll get a good nickname, like “Fivekay Lake.”

transport sign

Interestingly, there is another Three Mile Lake in our provincial park system, this one in Quetico Provincial Park. It is especially important to change its name due to its proximity to the Canada-United States border.

canoe on the lake

This park is unique in Ontario because it is surrounded by another large protected area: the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. Combined, this area provides a huge region for backcountry recreation used by people from both nations.

However, it is important for Canada (and Ontario Parks) to show our commitment to the metric system and sovereignty, especially in this region. It’s okay to have a respectful disagreement with your neighbor!

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Peck Lake – Algonquin Provincial Park

This lake is the focal point of the Peck Lake Trail. One bite is equivalent to 8809 ml or 8.8 L.

Obviously the name of the lake has nothing to do with the volume. It is actually named after North Victoria MPP Samuel Peck, as is Peck Township.

The intern who was looking for names of places to change highlighted this one to us and even proposed the name Lago 8.8L, but we caught it before the signals reached the manufacturers.

Foote Lake – Algonquin Provincial Park

The origin of this lake’s name is unknown, however, it could refer to the unit of measurement, so we’ll change it to Thirty Centimeter Lake, just to be safe.

Six Mile Lake Provincial Park

Often referred to simply as Six Mile, this large park will be renamed Nine Point Six Kilometer Lake Provincial Park, now making it the park with the longest name in the system at 34 letters.

Take that, Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park!

Panoramic view of Six Mile Lake

The superintendent is pleased with the name change as it retains some of the previous name. He hopes people will come to refer to him as “The Six Point.”

Let us know if we missed any lakes or parks.

This may seem like a lot of fuss, but at Ontario Parks, we are committed to moving the measuring sticks… I mean, the measuring sticks forward.

In fact, Ontario Parks’ efforts will be recognized by the International Committee for the Promotion of the Metric System in July at (you guessed it) Caliper Lake Provincial Park!