Fall 2005 Number 43

Animal Proofing Your Hike and Campsite

By Michael Doyle and Peter Burbidge

We are sure you have heard the story of the hiker who was on a trip in the Bruce Peninsula National Park with a new backpack and eager to get initiated into the backpacking fun. After a day of hiking, he arrived at the first campsite and set his pack down on the tent platform (luxury) and checked out the campground, water supply, beach and returned to set up the tent only to find a rip in the material and zipper of one of the compartments which held his day's supply of homemade trail mix. A chipmunk had quickly found his or her supper before he even got acclimated to the campsite!!

This was a quick reminder of the importance of animal proofing when hiking or camping. Since that time the authors have had the chance to hike frequently, and backpack in many locations in Ontario and on the West Coast Trail and Chillkoot Trail in BC. There have not had been any instances of losing food to animals since the chipmunk incident.

We have learned how seriously campers take the importance of using techniques to prevent any possibility of providing an animal with the opportunity to become accustomed to food. At a cottage in Killarney, a bear approached a window where a closed plastic jar of peanut butter was sitting on a ledge on the inside of the window. The bear could detect the smell and was curious but did not pursue it further. This was another reminder of the bear's tremendous sense of smell.

Black Bears are becoming more plentiful in Ontario and depending on where you are hiking or camping there is a good chance you will need to be aware of bear safety. In Frontenac Park, we are seeing signs of a few bears; however, there is also concern about racoons, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, and other small fry which can make short work of our knapsacks and usual food containers.

Options for containing our food and preventing unwanted intrusion of animals are based on a few key principles:

  1. Keep a clean campsite: Animals are attracted to all kinds of food, soap, skin cream, sun tan lotion, bug spray, bear spray, toothpaste, personal hygiene items, stove gas etc. These items should be considered as an attractant for animals of all kinds and should be kept in containers that are animal and smell proof.
  2. Ensure animal attractants are stored out of reach of animals: Use animal resistant containers (ABS Plastic Drums), spectra bags, and/or suspend them out of reach of the animals using bear poles or suspension systems in trees taking care not to damage tree bark and or branches.. The use of animal resistant food lockers is a popular method of protecting food and animals in high use and accessible campsites.
  3. Keep food and sleeping quarters separate: The campsites should be set up to allow 100 feet between sleeping and food preparation areas, and if possible, keep food activity downwind of sleeping areas. Take no food or other animal attractants mentioned above into your tent under any circumstances. It is also advised to not even take clothes or footwear, worn while cooking, into your tent.
  4. Soap Disposal: If you use soap for yourself and/or for doing dishes, the waste water should be disposed of carefully, well away from the campsite or poured down a privy. Dishwater should be strained, and the food scraps packed out.
  5. Do Not Feed Animals: There is always an incentive to provide food crumbs or scraps to an bird or animal. This is a sure fire way to keep them coming around. Animals should not be fed under any circumstances as they are perfectly capable of fending for themselves without our help.

It is a simple and effective principle that if animals do not get a chance to experience food smells and tastes, they will not frequent campsites or be tempted to play havoc with your hiking or camping experience.

Here are a few options for protecting your food and the animals that seek it:

  1. Food Canisters: These ABS plastic or metal containers fit into a backpack and are pretty well indestructible and do not allow much food smell to emanate from them. They cost less than $100. These canisters are probably the most indestructible means of protecting your food and if you are in remote areas where you could only survive a day or two without your food, then this would be a "best choice." Being inaccessible to animals, there is less need to suspend the canister high in a tree or bear pole. For further information see or or
  2. Spectra Food Bags: Ursack makes spectra bags along with smell proof plastic liners. The bags are effective with large animals (bears) and with the smaller rodents. They are very appropriate for shorter trips near civilization, where you wouldn't have serious consequences if your food bag was destroyed by chance or taken off by a animal. The cost for the bag and liner is about $100. They are light and compress as supplies are used and there is less need to suspend the bag high in a tree or bear pole. Spectra rope is available to tie off the bags as high as possible. These ropes are almost cut proof. For further information see
  3. Food Lockers: Many campsites that are heavily used are turning to metal food lockers which are very good for all animals and rodents. These provide very effective protection, but are costly and difficult to install in backcountry locations. For more information see
  4. Bear Poles: These are very popular in Western Canada where bears and cougars are a concern. They are effective but require space with no trees nearby. Several campsites would share the pole(s).This comprises of two vertical pipes with a cross piece high above the ground to throw your rope over to pull your food pack up and out of reach of most animals. The rope is then tied off as high up the side poles as possible. Some animals have been known to eat through the tie-off ropes allowing the bags to fall to the ground for a wonderful supper.
  5. Suspension Systems: There are many methods for suspending your animal attractant items in trees. These include using a rock bag or old sock (to get your line over the bear pole or tree branch), the one line method and the two line method. It is recommended to use carabiners and trunk protection to reduce the damage to trees. In heavy use areas, constant use of trees causes damage and eventually the availability of good branches of sufficient strength, height, and distance from the tree trunk are hard to find. The food bag should be ten feet off the ground, five feet below the branch and ten feet from the tree trunk.

In order to reduce the danger of animals becoming acclimated to people and run the risk of being killed by the authorities due to their dangerous intrusions, hikers and campers can take the above precautions in regard to handling their animal attractant food and personal care items. Take only what is absolutely necessary with you, place it in animal and smell resistant containers, use the bear poles or food lockers, if available, or appropriately suspend the items in a tree.


President's Message

This has been a busy summer for The Friends of Frontenac Park. With numerous projects on the go, it is amazing that some of our volunteers have a chance to enjoy their favorite park.

The Friends have been laying the ground work this year for our ambitious plan to rehabilitate the Doe Lake and Arab Lake Gorge Trails. These are beautiful trails that provide thousands of visitors each year a snap shot of the ecology and history of the Park. The Friends want to ensure that these trails continue to offer a near wilderness setting while providing visitors with an enjoyable walk.

Jérôme McDuff has spent his summer preparing to lead a historical walk along Big Salmon Lake Road this fall. It will start at the Trail Centre with a brief presentation on the history of the Park, followed by a guided tour of the historical sites located along Big Salmon Lake Road.

Our Map Committee has been putting the finishing touches on the 4th edition of our very popular Frontenac Park interior map. As usual with these things, this edition has taken longer than anticipated to get to the printer. We hope to be restocked with new maps by October.

After three years on the drawing board, a Friends of Frontenac Park welcome sign is expected be installed this fall near the Trail Centre. The sign will provide information on The Friends of Frontenac Park, our work, and our dedicated volunteers. The sign will also have a notice board to promote our events, a container for our brochures, and a donation box.

Speaking of our information brochures, we've also been working on revamping our ten year old brochure that provides general information on The Friends. Look for our new brochure this winter.

To help you have a visit to Frontenac Park which is free of animal invasions, Peter Burbidge and Michael Doyle have been busy researching devices and methods to protect your food from unwanted visitors (no, I'm not talking about your hiking buddy). Peter and Michael have prepared an informative article on their findings. We will be forwarding their research to Ontario Parks who is currently researching this matter for all Ontario Parks. We also plan to prepare a handout for visitors to inform them of ways to protect their food from animal invasions.

Mitchell Creek Bridge has been a time consuming project this summer. While only a small bridge, this bridge protects the northwest side of the Park from excessive human impact. Transport Canada is still insisting that the Township of South Frontenac raise the height of the bridge when it is repaired. Where appropriate for The Friends, we have been working with local residents to encourage Transport Canada to let the Township keep the bridge at its current height.

Rose Jones has been busy this summer organizing a volunteer contingent to act as hosts at the Trail Centre. Rose's life won't get any quieter as the Frontenac Challenge gets underway in September since Rose also looks after the finer details of the Challenge.

It is not all work without play for our volunteers. Many of our volunteers joined me for the annual President's Paddle in June. The weather cooperated for a great weekend of canoeing, hiking, swimming, campfires, and spending time with my friends

Good weather and good friends made this year's President's paddle one to remember.

Paul Vickers



Here is a list of upcoming activities that maybe of interest to you. Please participate and tell your friends about them This logo * denotes Friends' sponsored activities Do not forget that you will need to purchase a daily vehicle or camping permit to take part in most of these activities. Contact the Park (376 3489) for more information.

* Sept. 1 to Oct. 31: Frontenac Challenge The Frontenac Challenge involves hiking all 160 km of the Park';s trail network between September 1 and October 31. To meet the challenge, pick up a registration form and the specific trail information at the Trail Centre and then set out to hike through the autumn grandeur of Frontenac Park. Participants who complete the Challenge will receive a certificate at the Awards Banquet on Sunday November 13, at 10:30. So come out to Frontenac Park and take the Challenge !

* Monday, September 12: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Sunday, September 18: Fall Nature Walk Join the Friends on this short walk to examine the flora and fauna found at the Park on the Doe Lake Loop (3km). Meet at the Trail Centre at 12:30

* Saturday, September 24: Wilderness Navigation using Map and Compass Come and learn how to interpret and read topographical maps and then find your way in the wilderness using a variety of techniques and equipment. Cost $20.00 per person (plus GST and Park fee). Time: 09:00 to 16:00. Meet at the Trail Centre.

Saturday, October 1 and Sunday October 2: Basic Wilderness First Aid Course Presented by SOLO Canada / Mr. Mark Halladay of Emergency Services, Kingston. This course, designed by Dr. Frank Hubble of the North American Rescue Institute, takes you beyond standard first aid. Cost $165.00 (GST included) per person plus park fee. Time: 08:30 to 16:30; Contact the Park at 376-3489 for further details and to register.

* Sunday, October 2: Ontario Hiking Day Enjoy the splendor of autumn on a 19km hike around the Big Salmon Lake Loop. Meet at the Trail Centre. Bring your lunch, day pack, water, camera and wear sturdy hiking boots. Time: 8:30am to 4:00pm

* Sunday, October 9: Historical Walk Join the Friends on this walk down memory lane and learn a bit about the human history of Frontenac Park. A short walk (approx. 7km) down Big Salmon Lake Road past some of the old family homesteads of the area's early settlers. Meet at the Trail Centre at 11:00am and return at approx. 4:00pm. Bring water, good walking shoes and lots of questions. Please register with the Park at 376-3489 and plan to go, rain or shine.

* Saturday, Saturday October 15: Guide Trail Sweep The Volunteers/Guides will do general maintenance on the Park's trails to get them in top shape for our visitors. Bring a lunch & work gloves. A Chili supper will be served to all participants at the end of the day. Meet at the Trail Centre at 08:30 to 16:30; Contact the Park (376 3489) for more details.

* Monday, October 17: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

October 31: This is usually the date that the Salmon Lake Road gate closes for the winter.

* Sunday November 13: Frontenac Challenge Awards Barbecue Registered participants will receive a certificate of achievement, share stories and chow down on hot dogs, including vegetarian fare, cooked by the Friends. Donations will be gratefully received. Meet at the Trail Centre for 10:30.

* Sunday November 13: Annual General Meeting All members are invited to attend the Friends' AGM to start at 13:00 at the Trail Centre. The minutes of the last AGM will be posted at 12:30. Why not come early and join us for the Challenge BBQ? This will give you an opportunity to meet the Challenge participants.

* Monday, November 14: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Monday, December 5: Deadline for Winter Newsletter We welcome your articles, letters, stories and photographs. Material should be sent to The Friends address shown on the back page or e-mailed to: For electronic items, please sent articles as Microsoft Word files with a minimum of formatting, and photographs as 180 dpi greyscale. If necessary/possible, please compress (zip) files before sending.

* Monday, December 12: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Monday, January 9: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

Looking ahead to winter, the Friends are planning to hold the following events:

Check, the Winter newsletter, local newspapers, or the Trail Centre for dates and times of these upcoming events.


Return a Favour to Frontenac Park by joining the Board of Directors of The Friends

By Paul Vickers

With a mandate to supplement and augment park programs, facilities and services, Friends organizations are becoming an integral component to Ontario's provincial parks, and Frontenac Park is no exception. A flip through this newsletter and the tabloid highlights some of our recent contributions to Frontenac Park. And that's just a snap shot of a couple years of our contributions.

The work undertaken by The Friends only happens because of a dedicated group of volunteer Directors working hand-in-hand with our members and Ontario Parks' staff. If you love Frontenac Park and want to return a big favour to nature, please consider becoming a Director of The Friends of Frontenac Park.

Directors are elected for a one year term at the Annual General Meeting held in November each year. Board meetings are held monthly from September to June in Kingston. An approximate minimum time commitment of a few hours a month is required, but the sky is the limit for how involved you want to become. If you are interested or want more information, please contact a Director or me. I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming Board meeting.


Frontenac Challenge

Come on out to Frontenac Park this fall for the 13th annual Frontenac Challenge.

The Frontenac Challenge involves hiking the 11 loops that form the Challenge within the months of September and October (approximately 160km). The Frontenac Challenge was originally suggested by Park Superintendent Lloyd Chapman in 1993 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Ontario Provincial Park System. Only 14 people completed the Challenge in 1993, compared to over 125 people in recent years.

Successful participants will receive a Certificate Accomplishment at our November 13th celebratory BBQ. Those who have completed the Challenge five or ten times will have their name permanently engraved on a plaque located at the Trail Centre.

With thanks to our proud sponsors, we have been able this year to produce an attractive and useful information sheet that participants receive when signing up for the Challenge at the Trail Centre.

We have planned an organized hike of Big Salmon Lake on October 2, Ontario Hiking Day. Join us in celebrating Ontario Hiking Day at the same time as completing one of the trails of the Challenge. Check the Outside Column for further details.

For more information on the Challenge, visit our website at

Please support our sponsors of the Frontenac Challenge by visiting their business and letting them know you saw their sponsorship.

Our sponsors:

Hillside Coffee Company logo Novel idea logo

The Peak Experience logo Snug Harbour logo Trailhead logo

Trailhead Kingston is offering Challenge participants a 10% discount on footwear and clothing.


Hike 4 ALS in Frontenac Park

The ALS Society of Ontario will be holding its new fund raising activity, Hike 4 ALS, in Frontenac Park on October 15th. Frontenac Park is one of five locations in Ontario that Hike 4 ALS will be happening. Leading up to this event, the hikers will be collecting donations, all of which will be directed towards research for a cure for ALS (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) as well as towards support services for those currently living with this devasting disease.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-267-4ALS ext. 218.


Update on Mitchell Creek Bridge Repairs

By Paul Vickers

Scott Reid, MP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (left) and Paul Vickers, Friends of Frontenac Park President, in front of Mitchell Creek Bridge.Under Canadian law, the right to navigation ranks over fishing, property, and right of access to water”. June 6, 2005 letter from the Office of the Minister of Transport to The Friends of Frontenac Park.

The past few months has seen a great amount of activity on the Mitchell Creek Bridge repairs, but Transport Canada is still holding to its position that the new bridge must be raised to comply with the Navigable Water Protection Act.

For those who have not been following a year of ups and downs with the bridge repairs, here is a short recap. Built approximately 70 years ago, the bridge is showing its age. The girders are rusting away, and as a result, weight restrictions have been imposed on vehicles crossing the bridge. In the summer of 2004, the Township of South Frontenac originally proposed to repair the bridge as it is currently designed, a girder structure using the existing abutments. The Township’s proposal would have kept the bridge at its current navigable clearance. When the proposal went to Transport Canada for their approval, they insisted the bridge design be altered to be in full and complete compliance with the Navigable Water Protection Act, which requires a greater navigable clearance. The Township has now proposed a culvert design to comply with the Act.

The Friends of Frontenac Park are concerned that an increase in navigable clearance will lead to an increase in human presence on Birch and Kingsford Lakes. This would result in shoreline erosion from the powerful wakes of large boats, potential unauthorized clearing of weeds and trees from Mitchell Creek to allow easier access to the lakes, disturbance of boundary wildlife and wildlife habitat on Mitchell Creek, increased entrance to Frontenac Park from undesignated entry points, greater potential for unauthorized camping and enforcement concerns, increase in fishing pressure on the lakes, and a potential reduction of visitors to Frontenac Park as a result of the diminished near-wilderness experience that Frontenac Park currently provides.

The Friends have written to Transport Canada requesting that they allow the Township of South Frontenac to keep the bridge at its current clearance. We also sent copies of the letters to several other appropriate politicians, ministries and agencies. As quoted above, and similarly quoted in other newspaper articles, Transport Canada is aggressively taking the position that the Navigable Waters Protection Act takes precedence over most other conflicting requirements. They are insisting the Act be fully abided by, irrespective of the environmental damage that would result.

On June 4, Scott Reid, Member of Parliament for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington visited the bridge to see the condition of the bridge, and surrounding lands and waters with his own eyes. For over 90 minutes, Mr. Reid talked with various concerned residents, and paddled down the creek to loon nesting sites. A couple weeks later he raised the matter in Parliament in a statement to the House of Commons where he requested the Minister of Transport revoke the original decision to require the clearance be raised.

The local media have been reporting on the bridge activities, the most notable being a lengthy front page article in the March 28 edition of the Kingston Whig Standard. A few weeks later, a letter to the editor of the Kinston Whig Standard from The Friends of Frontenac Park was printed, complete with photo and featured as "Letter of the Day".

While the ultimate goal of seeing the bridge remain at its current clearance is still to be achieved, there has been leniency granted by Transport Canada. While a 1.5 metre vertical clearance above the June 15th average water level must be maintained, they have reduced the horizontal distance that this clearance must be maintained from 6 metres to 2 metres (think of it as a boat in the shape of a cube that is 1.5 metres tall and 2 metres wide that must be able to go under the bridge on June 15th). This is significant, as with a culvert design it decreases the clearance in the centre of the bridge by approximately half a meter (to achieve 1.5 metre clearance other than at the centre of the bridge using a culvert design, the clearance at the centre of the bridge will be higher than 1.5 metres). It should also be noted, that Transport Canada early in the application process reduced the vertical clearance from 2 metres (their guideline) to 1.5 metres.

With the Honourable Jean Lapierre (Minister of Transport) unwilling to preserve the pristine qualities of Mitchell Creek for our future generations by revoking his department's decision, the last resort appears to be through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Environmental Assessment is currently being carried out, and we hope that it requires Transport Canada to place our natural environment before the application of a law that is not appropriate for Mitchell Creek.


Trail Rehabilitation Project Update

By Paul Vickers

Earlier this year, the Board of Directors of The Friends of Frontenac Park embarked on an ambitious two year project to rehabilitate the Doe Lake Trail and the Arab Lake Gorge Trail.

The rehabilitation project focuses on two aspects of the trails. The primary aspect is maintaining the ecological integrity of the trails. The trails currently exhibit signs of the detrimental impact of the thousands of hikers that walk them each year. Examples of these signs include trail sections that are prone to wetness have been widened as hikers step aside to avoid getting their feet wet and muddy, the embankments of hills are exhibiting deterioration and steps which prevent erosion on these hills have fallen into disrepair. Volunteers at the Trail Sweep held last fall removed more than 30 pieces of rebar from these two trails where erosion reducing steps no longer exist. Our rehabilitation plan includes laying cedar chips in flood prone areas, replacing erosion steps, and installing, repairing or replacing bridges and boardwalks.

To make the Doe Lake Trail and the Arab Lake Gorge Trail more enjoyable for visitors, we are planning to install more benches at scenic locations, improve the viewing opportunity at the Kemp Mine, and set up a nature pack for visitors to borrow (a back-pack which contains trail guides, binoculars, a magnifying glass, and a First Aid Kit). We also plan to install a trailhead sign near the Trail Centre which would house a container for the trail guides as well as providing information on the Doe Lake Trail and the Arab Lake Gorge Trail.

Community Foundation of Greater Kingston logoThis year has been spent raising funds for the rehabilitation project. Our fund-raising got off to an early start with a $4,000 donation from The Community Foundation of Greater Kingston. The final scope of the project will be dictated by the amounts of funds we raise and the funds available from The Friends to support this project.

Now that the plan for the rehabilitation project has been established, we look forward to next year when the work to rehabilitate these trails will be accomplished. Be sure to join The Friends at one of our volunteer work parties to help us rehabilitate Frontenac Parks’ most popular trails!


Trail Sweep

On Fall is almost upon us again and it’s time to spruce up the place! Come join the Friends on our annual Fall Trail Sweep and help us get the trails back into shape after a busy summer season.

See the “Outside” column for all the details.


NOTICE of Annual General Meeting (AGM) Sunday, November 13

All members are invited to attend the Friends' AGM to start at 13:00 hrs at the Trail Centre


Tilley Hat Winner

The winner of our Tilley hat early membership renewal contest was Scott Bleeker. Scott had his membership in for 2005/06 by March 31 and was therefore eligible for the draw. Thank you to all our new and renewing members for promptly returning their memberships.


Winter Camping

Don't forget to plan on joining us for one of the always popular winter camping weekends in February!

making fire



Members in good standing of the Friends can enjoy a discount of 10% off regular price merchandise (except canoes, kayaks and MEC price-matched items) at The Peak Experience. The Peak Experience is Kingston's only locally owned outdoor store and is located at 166 Wellington at Brock and 795 Gardiners Road at Taylor Kidd. Present your Friends membsership card with photo identification at your next visit to the Peak Experience.

Your membership with the Friends also entitles you to a 15% discount at Novel Idea, a Kingston owned bookstore located at 156 Princess Street.