They just want to be Happy Campers


Lynn and Don Morley both retired in 2011 and looked forward to their leisurely summers at their Garden Lake campsite.”we have camped at Garden Lake for the last 45 years with family and extended family Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends. Our children grew up enjoying everything about Garden Lake learning to swim, fish, catch frogs, learning how to make that special s’more. We also enjoyed bird hunting in the fall at Garden Lake.” said Lynne Morley.

That could all change for the Morley’s and several hundred others who have paid a seasonal fee to park their trailers and create a make-shift “cottage” on four different crown owned campground aites for the last 20 years.

As reported , the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry plan on closing the campgrounds at Garden Lake, Ranger Lake, Tapp’s Landing campground which is located approximately 34 km north of the Town of Thessalon at Tunnel Lake.

LIFE AT CAMP (submitted by numerous campers from the four campgrounds)

The MNRF claim that several significant issues of non-compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the permits which have now expired. The MNRF entered into Land Use Permits (LUPs) with two contractors to manage and maintain Crown Land access points. “These permits expired last year and are not being renewed.” said Bill May Resource Management Supervisor Sault Ste Marie District Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

image2Representative from the four campgrounds organized a meeting with MNRF officials last week with Algoma Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha attending. The closed meeting resulted in hopes for more information meetings and to explore other options than closing the campgrounds.

The group might be out of luck however, the crux of the problem seems to centre around aging septic systems at the campground sites. The Ministry of Environment conducted inspections of the systems last year.

“MOECC has issued an inspection report with associated recommendations, which MNRF must comply with” May said.  The cost of replacing the septic units are estimated at $25,000 per site. “MNRF has decided to close the campgrounds and restore the areas back to a more natural environment.”

That is unacceptable to the campground users who claim the MNRF has not given the users a chance to look at another option to keep the campgrounds going.

“We are pleading with the ministry to at least give us a chance to self regulate and resolve/restore the issues at hand. ” said Robert Nevitt who started an online petition that has attracted close to 500 signatures. “This is one of the few affordable campgrounds left in northern Ontario costing only $500 per year comparing. to $2000-$3000 annually for their lots and it’s still a struggle to get a spot their” said Nevittt. “We love camping there with our elderly parents, family, and grandchildren spending quality time together. No phones, television and we get a chance to teach younger generation what its like to live without an xbox etc.” said another camper, Cathy Gullery

img_9251The group including the LUP holder claim the MNRF were aware of other structures built on certain sites such as roof overhangs on some of the trailers and decks and all were approved. The septic system is the responsibility of the MNRF who own the crown land.

“My specific camp had an inspection from the MNR who had us make changes which we did this was around 7-8 yrs ago. We have always had a list of rules at the Tapps / tunnel lake site which we followed.” said Kim Dinsmore . 

The campgrounds become a second home and community for the families that have camped at the site for decades.

“At Ranger the people up there are just one big family and them taking the park away is like taking family members and putting them in different provinces some of those people i only see at camp and cherish every moment with them.” said Cathy Megginson. I know my husband and i can’t wait till Friday when we know we will be on our way to camp and the home life is left behind for that brief weekend where we can just sit back and enjoy life.”
“they (MNRF) don’t realize the bond that is formed between the campers, we are family. My husband, children and I are out-doors people we love every aspect of being able to camp at Ranger Lake, it is our first home in the summer, and we would love to continue to camp there said, Jennifer Theriault a long time camper.

“There are a number of other opportunities in the area for the public to enjoy camping, which also offers accommodations for trailers with over 8 private campgrounds and one Provincial Park within 100 km of Sault Ste. Marie and 32 private campgrounds within 100 km of Thessalon. Crown land camping is also available in and around the area of these campgrounds where individuals may stay for up to 21 days without approval from MNRF.” The MNRF responded.

No word on the next move of the group or if the MNRF will change its plans for the land, meanwhile hundreds are wondering if they will be happy campers this summer.


  1. Thank you Craig. The MOE reports were finally revealed at the closed door meeting. No where in the Tapps report does it say that the MOE recommends closure of this camp. The problem stated is that the outhouses need to be locked so dumping can not be allowed in the tanks. They also comment that there is a dumping station across the highway at the Tunnel Lake Trading Post that could and should be used. We would like the opportunity to do just that and use the stations. We have been there for 13 yrs and were told to use these cement tanks for dumping our trailers waist. Had the MNRF come in and told the LUP holders or the campers themselves that this was not the case we would have never had used them. Also the MNR told us at the meeting that the MOE was called in to do a report in Oct 2016 when actually the MOE report states the camps were visited in April of 2016. We at Tunnel lake were asked to leave in May 2016 and after discussing this with the MNR were told we could stay and the new LUP holder would take care of any issues. This was July 2016 . Only to be told Jan 2017 that no new bids for LUP holder were accepted and we were again told to leave with no options. This leads me to question the true intentions of the MNRF.

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