2018 marks the 125th anniversary of Ontario Parks and we’ve been digging through our archives for some of the most interesting ancient photographs, documents and artifacts. Throughout the year we shared our discoveries in a series of OP125 blog posts!
This post features a collection of vintage postcards showing some of our beautiful parks in Northwestern Ontario!
Sharing camping experiences with friends and family hasn’t always been so instantaneous. With cell phones in our pockets and at least one reception bar, we can easily share a snapshot (or boomerang!) of an amazing campfire, a beautiful sunset, or an amazing view with our loved ones… or everyone!
Postcards are the Instagram of the past, an increasingly popular way to let family or friends know where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, and where you’re going next.
Postcards were and still are collected simply as souvenirs of a trip. But with the ease of digital sharing, postcards are no longer as popular as they once were.
Go back in time with these postcards from times gone by…
Sailing the shore of Lake Superior
This postcard features Lake Superior Provincial Park, known for its panoramic views that will take your breath away. Whether you stay in the park or just drive, be sure to get off the highway to enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Superior.
published by Sault News Service: Sault Ste. Mary, Ontario. ColorPicture Publishers, Inc.
In the back: Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario. One of the “Lookouts” along the Lake Superior Route, Trans-Canada Highway, Ontario, Canada.
The section of the Trans-Canada Highway between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa was completed and officially opened in 1962. Before the highway, most visitors arrived at the park by boat or train to stay in remote accommodations.
The completion of Highway 17 opened the park and northwestern Ontario to more tourism opportunities, including camping!
An “Invitation to a fun-filled vacation”
White Lake Provincial Park was established in 1963 and is a family park offering hiking trails, swimming, fishing and Discovery programs for families with children. As indicated by the walleye on the entrance sign, White Lake is known for its fantastic fishing opportunities.
Published by Alex Wilson Publications, Ltd: Dryden, Ontario, Canada. Distributed by Northland Specialty Company.
In the back: “Invitation to a fun-filled vacation” The famous Lake Superior Trail, 1,300 miles through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, completely surrounds the world’s largest body of fresh water (32,000 square miles). On the Canadian side, the province of Ontario has created many parks offering camping facilities in picturesque natural settings, such as here along the northeast section of the route, where the highway crosses the strait between the lower and upper half of the Lake. White.”
From prisoner of war camp to provincial park
Neys Provincial Park features a beautiful two-kilometer sandy beach on Lake Superior, as shown in this postcard.
Notice how the camp area is open and sparse, with young trees planted? This is because Neys operated as a prisoner of war camp during World War II. The trees were completely cut down for the construction of the camp.
A common hobby of prisoners of war included painting their own postcards and sending them to loved ones at home. His postcards often depicted the landscape, wildlife and daily activities of the northern Ontario camp.
After it was officially closed and the buildings were dismantled, Red Pine was planted to reforest the area in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Photo: R. Ettinger. Postcard published by Alex Wilson Publications, Dryden, Ontario, Canada
In the back: On the picturesque north shore of Lake Superior. The famous Circular Route. Formally a German prisoner of war camp is now a beautiful park offering fishing, swimming, hiking and wildlife. Located between Terrace Bay and Marathon. [Little] Image of the bridge over the river in the background.
In 1965, Neys was established as a provincial park. Neys is a hidden gem rich in cultural heritage and a quintessential wilderness feel, not far from the Trans-Canada Highway.
Fashion for the falls
Rainbow Falls Provincial Park is definitely worth a stop to hike the Rainbow Falls Trail! A staircase and series of platforms follow the falls to a sturdy bridge over the falls.
Outdoor camping clothing has certainly evolved into more practical clothing over the years; However, the stunning beauty of Rainbow Falls has remained constant.
published by Sault News Service: Sault Ste. Mary, Ontario, Canada. ColorPicture Publishers, Inc.
In the back: Rainbow Falls Provincial Park near Schreiber, Ontario, Canada, Lake Superior Route, Trans-Canada Highway.
While visiting Rainbow Falls, take advantage of the warm inland waters of Whitesand Lake and try new-age water sports like SUP or water biking. Equipment rentals are available in the park.
Rushing River Provincial Park is located along a series of rapids in Rushing River and on the shore of Dogtooth Lake. From this bird’s eye view, you can see the rapids to the left, Dogtooth Lake in the background, and Highway 71 in the foreground.
Photo: HR Oakman. Postcard published by Peterborough Post Card Co.: Peterborough, Canada
In the back: 17 miles southeast of Kenora, on Highway 71, with Dogtooth Lake in the background. Kenora, Ontario, Canada.
The area that is now Rushing River Provincial Park was once owned by the Department of Highways (now Ministry of Transportation). Part of this land was used as the construction foreman’s office and quarters when Highway 71 was being built.
Highway construction began in 1934 and the office was built in 1945. Eleven acres were set aside as a recreational preserve for highway workers. The former foreman’s office is now the park museum.
In 1957, the Department of Lands and Forests (now Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) acquired the land and Rushing River officially became a provincial park in 1958. Since then, the park has been a favorite camping destination and offers endless opportunities for camping. explore.
Keep the postcards alive!
Many of our parks sell postcards in their stores. Why not take a moment to share your experience the old-fashioned way by sending a postcard to a friend or family member telling them about your camping adventures this summer?
Who doesn’t love receiving snail mail?
Share your memories of #OP125
Do you have old postcards in your personal files? Share your photos using #OP125. Join the celebration!