Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
Then and now: park entrance signs

Today we’re going to take a look at some Ontario park entrance signs and how they’ve evolved over the ages!

Each park is unique and so are many park entrance signs. With too many to choose from, this blog highlights a sign from each zone in the Ontario Parks system.

FFrom the field to the forest

Emily Provincial Park It is located near Peterborough, in the heart of the Kawarthas.

It’s hard to see, but in the historic photo below, the sign says, “Department of Lands and Forests” below “Emily Provincial Park.” The Department of Lands and Forests oversaw provincial parks until they were reorganized in 1972 to become the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Black and white photo of a field with brambles, some fences, a flag and a sign that says Emily Provincial ParkEmily Provincial Park, then

Before Emily became a provincial park in 1957, the land was farm fields. As you can see in the historical image, there are very few trees.

New green and white sign with Ontario Parks logo that says Emily, surrounded by deciduous treesEmily Provincial Park, now

Initially, with some help from park staff, trees and shrubs were planted along the park boundary to renature the land. You can see in the modern image of the park entrance that the park has been transformed from field to forest.

Body of water with a forested shoreline in the early afternoonPigeon River from Emily Provincial Park Pier

A reminder of days gone by

Located in northwestern Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Superior, Neys Provincial Park It is rich in cultural history. The signs in Neys are mounted on old boom logs used during logging days to indicate the history of logging in the area.

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Grainy photo of a dark brown sign with the yellow Ontario trillium logo and the yellow inscription "Neys Provincial Park", supported by a large, tall wooden fence. Neys Provincial Park, then

The sign above shows the old Ontario logo and says “Ministry of Natural Resources” – the Ontario Parks brand didn’t exist yet!

Green Neys sign with the Ontario Parks logo, supported by two large logs on a clear winter afternoon.Neys Provincial Park, now

The most recent signage at the entrance to Neys Provincial Park emphasizes the current Ontario Parks logo, adopted in 1996.

View of the water from a white sand beach with scattered natural debris and a forested shoreline in the distanceNeys Provincial Park

Different representations – look closely

Samuel de Champlain Provincial ParkThe original entrance sign is from 1966. To the right of the sign is a depiction of Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer and founder of New France. Samuel de Champlain was one of the first Europeans to pass through Mattawa.

Black and white photograph of Samuel de Champlain's front door sign with the explorer depicted on the side of the sign.Samuel de Champlain, then

In the late 1980s, the depiction of Samuel de Champlain on the entrance sign was changed to that of an “anonymous traveler.” A voyageur was chosen to commemorate the culture of the voyageurs: tough, hardworking, boastful and jovial, despite spending 16 hours a day paddling huge birch bark canoes and transporting tons of goods in herniated transports.

New version of the sign with the explorer depicted on the side, but with the Ontario Parks logo includedPoster of Samuel de Champlain with the representation of an “anonymous traveler”

The Mattawa River was considered the most difficult and dangerous part of the canoe route across Canada, where travelers played a key role in the fur trade for 400 years.

Two people in a light blue canoe along the shore looking at a forest with binocularsSamuel de Champlain Provincial Park

Original stonework

Established in 1970, Chutes Provincial Park It is the only provincial park between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. Marie on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Black and white photograph of a dark sign reading Chutes Provincial Park, with no logo, flanked by stone pillars and including a park ranger in the foreground.Chutes Provincial Park, then

The original stonework of this entrance sign has stood the test of time.

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Green Ontario Parks sign with the Ontario Parks logo mounted on a white background, flanked by two stone pillarsChutes Provincial Park, now

Reflecting agricultural heritage

Point Farms Provincial Park is located in southwestern Ontario on Lake Huron. The design of this sign is unique and resembles a barn.

Brown Province of Ontario sign with an old logo saying Point Farms mounted on a structure built from barn boards and wood shinglesPoint Farms Provincial Park, then

This photo was the first version of an entrance sign to Point Farms, taken during the 1970s. The park’s original master plan indicated that park signage should reflect the agricultural theme of the area.

Green Ontario Parks sign with logo that says Point Farms mounted on a structure built from barn boards and wood shinglesPoint Farms Provincial Park, now

To this day, the entrance sign incorporates a barn board that complements the Stirling barn built in 1889 (still in the park).

Field with wildflowers, brambles and grasses and agricultural fences on a clear sunny summer dayPoint Farms Provincial Park

There were several farms on the property that is now Point Farms Provincial Park. Rows of fences, rows of trees and apple trees remain from these old farms.

Although park signs have changed and evolved over time, the rationale behind the creation of provincial parks has remained constant with the desire to preserve Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage.

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