Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024
The people I've met in the parks...

Walk the halls of our main office and you will find many former naturalists, operations technicians and superintendents. Many of our long-time team members began their careers in a favorite provincial park. In today’s post, Eva Paleczny, who now works centrally as a learning and education specialist, tells of her time working in a park.

As a naturalist at Lake Superior Provincial Park, I met many people, some only briefly and others year after year.

And the diverse range of visitors I’ve met while working with Ontario Parks has been one of the best parts of my job!

I remember a retired couple who camped in the park for most of each season and attended every new program it offered, year after year.

I remember a family of four (the Taylors!) visiting the park in August each year. Even when I had been away for a season or two working somewhere else, I was always greeted by name upon arrival. The two children (now adults!) have worked at the park for two summers. Kelly is a park naturalist!

Kelly Taylor, Agawa Bay

Joey works with the maintenance department.

Joey Taylor, Agawa Bay Camps

I remember Gene from Michigan, who came to the park 50 years in a row. We had a party for him on his 50th birthday in the park! Despite not being able to travel to the park these days, Gene and his dog Dakota still go camping (just closer to home!) and have hiked nearly 1,400 miles since last October.

Gene and Dakota, Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore, Michigan

I remember meeting one cyclist after another, many of them taking solo trips across Canada. The stretch of road through the park is especially hilly, and I remember many exhausted and slightly bewildered-looking cyclists stopping at the Visitor Center for a break.

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I remember an old man who passed by the Visitor Center and who had worked with the park in the 60s. He told me about his participation in the creation of the campground and described the kitchen that previously existed for the staff. At some point we discovered that he had crossed paths with my dad, who had also worked with the park.

hikers on lake viewsEva Paleczny walking with her family in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. Photo: Jake Paleczny

I remember many people and some of their stories, but most of all I remember their enthusiasm for Ontario parks and their eagerness to share their stories, experiences and discoveries with me.

Now, from a cubicle in our Peterborough branch, I rarely have those face-to-face encounters with visitors that I so enjoyed! I work to protect parks for the people of Ontario and beyond, but it’s the people who visit our parks that inspire me to continue doing so.

Thank you!