Ontario’s rugged beauty has long been a source of inspiration for poets, artists, and of course, vacationers. Whether it is the mind-boggling amount of pristine lakes or the rich wildlife, Ontario has an outdoors experience to suit all-comers. 

Photo: Laura Bombier

Enduring winter in much of Canada requires patience and the promise of reward, but enjoying fresh air, glistening lakes, and camaraderie around a campfire makes up for the forced hibernation of winter. Les Stroud sees Ontario as offering an unparalleled nature experience.  “Ontario’s far more ‘world class nature’ than I think it realizes. [Its] the centerpiece of the world when it comes to cedar and pine ringed lakes, sitting in glassy stillness after a rain storm with loons calling an echo across the black-hued pool of fresh clean water.”  

Take it slow

Les’ words certainly evoke an arresting image and one that any outdoors enthusiast can relate to; there is something very special about getting out into nature particularly for city dwellers. Nature offers the opportunity to participate in neat activities but also the chance to decompress and slow down.

According to Les, being in nature is an experience that is fulfilling and invigorating. “It is where I come alive...  where I re-energize and feel connected to the earth and myself.” And, Les feels that connection most keenly at his cottage at Rabbit Lake, in Temagami, where he first experienced his passion for the outdoors. Indeed, Les was so struck by Temagami’s beauty that he decided that his future lay in nature, giving up his job as a songwriter to focus on a new career as an outdoors guide. 

“Ontario is far more ‘world class nature’ than I think it realizes.”

However, while Les’ career may have changed, his passion for music has remained as strong as ever and he never goes anywhere without his signature harmonica. “Like the natural world music, too is an elixir for the soul.  How many aspects of life can you say invoke every emotion we have as humans to express? Music can do that. Music can pull strangers together and make them friends.”

Learn from the best

Les has sage words of advice for those planning a trip off the beaten track. “If you have no experience, learn from those who do. Do not try to just wing it and head out there expecting it to be magical. Mistakes can be made and I wouldn’t want your first experience to be a bad one... go on a guided excursion first to learn from the best. Oh, and watch Survivorman!”

The past winter was one of the worst in living memory. So, pack up the car, get outside and reconnect with nature. You deserve your reward.