Health & Safety
Always carry a well-equipped first aid kit. It is best if at least one
person in your party has first aid and CPR training. In the Algonquin Park
Interior you may find yourself days away from medical help.
There are no poisonous snakes in Algonquin Park.
There is no poison ivy in the Highway 60 Corridor area of the park, although
it is occasionally found to the north of this area. Poison ivy is fairly
common near the rivers on the eastern side of the park.
Most Interior campsites are equipped with a fire pit and latrine box (usually
located down a path several hundred feet into the forest from the site).
Some are also equipped with a grill for the fire pit.
Some new tents require water-proofing by the purchaser. Read the instructions,
set up the tent at home and soak it with water to see if your new tent
requires such treatment prior to your camping trip. Water proofing substances
are available at most hardware and camping supply stores. If in doubt about
what kind to use, ask a sales rep. for assistance.
When pitching a tent, choose a flat or gently sloping area that is not
located in a depression. If your tent is located on a slope, orient the
door facing downhill, to ensure that rain water will drain away from your
tent instead of running inside! (On most interior campsites, the best locations
for tents will be fairly obvious... just use the areas where others have
pitched tents before you!)
Campfires are only permitted in designated campsite fire pits.
For fire-building, you are permitted to use dry twigs and branches found
on the ground or left on your site by previous campers or park rangers.
You are NOT permitted to damage any living tree in the Algonquin Park Interior.
If an open fire ban has been instituted, due to hazardously dry conditions,
you will be required to demonstrate that you are carrying a portable stove
before you embark on your canoe trip. If you are already in the Interior
when an open fire ban is instituted, you will be notified of the fire ban
and, if you are not carrying a stove, may be asked to cut your trip short
and leave the park by the shortest route.
Birch bark and spruce pitch make good fire starters, but should NEVER be
obtained from a living tree.
Two signs that wood is dry enough to burn effectively: the bark will be
loose or falling off; cracks will have formed in the wood.
Food, Drinking Water, Clean-up & Waste
Cans and glass bottles are prohibited in the Algonquin Park Interior. It
is best to take only non-perishable food items and to pack them in reusable
plastic bags, bottles or tubes.
Fill your canteens with water before you leave home to eliminate the need
for boiling or filtering water en route the first day out. (thanks to
Doug Elliott for contributing this tip)
Never collect drinking water near a beaver pond or bog. Water that is obtained
from the middle of a lake is usually cleaner than water obtained near shore.
Water should be collected from a couple feet below the surface, or as deep
as you can reach from the canoe. Water should be filtered, or treated with
water purification tablets and then boiled for 5 minutes before consuming,
to eliminate the possibility of contracting Giardia lamblia, or
To chill your beverages while you are in camp, fill the containers to the
top (so that they do not contain any air), tie them on the end of a rope,
or place them in a bag and tie the bag on the end of the rope. Tie the
other end of the rope to a tree in camp. Then throw the beverage bottles
into the lake, as far from the shore as possible. The goal is to get the
beverage containers to sink to the bottom, where the water is fairly deep
(and cold). If the bottles do not sink on their own, add a heavy object
to the end of the rope.
Use only biodegradable soaps for dishes and personal hygiene. Dispose of
soapy water in the bush, well away from any lake or stream.
Latrine boxes are provided at most campsites in the Interior. You will
need to supply your own toilet paper.
All food and packaging wastes, etc., that cannot be burned must be carried
out of the Interior. NEVER dispose of food or other wastes in the forest
or lake. DO NOT deposit anything other than human excrement in the latrine!!
Raccoons and Bears, etc.
Most wild animals prefer to avoid close contact with humans and would rather
leave an area than come face-to-face with people who are portaging or backpacking.
As you move through the forest, be sure that you alert the animals in the
area to your presence by talking, singing, wearing a bell or making some
other type of noise. This way you will avoid the possibility of startling
an animal and inadvertently making it feel threatened or cornered. Even
very shy animals can become aggressive under such conditions.
Never eat in your tent, as food odours can linger.
Your food pack should be suspended from trees at night, AT LEAST three
metres off the ground and two metres away from the closest tree trunk.
If a large enough tree is not available, it is best to suspend the pack
between two trees. To hang the pack, tie an object, such as a stick, rock
or unbreakable mug to the end of a rope and then throw the end of the rope
over a high tree branch. You may need up to 15 metres of rope, or more,
if you are using the two-tree method.
To be on the safe side, in addition to hanging ALL FOOD, it is best to
hang chewing gum, mints, toothpaste and perfumed soap, rather than keep
them in the tent overnight.
Your tent should NOT be situated near the fire pit, dish washing area or
hanging food pack.
If you have more than one tent on your site, align the tents in such a
way that, should an animal enter the campsite and become startled, the
animal would not feel trapped, without an obvious and easy escape route.
(i.e. DON'T arrange the tents in a circle, or too close together in a line
In Algonquin Park, the peak of black fly season is usually throughout the
month of June; mosquitos, sand flies and deerflies first appear in June
and are most numerous in July.
Insects are most attracted to dark-coloured and rough-textured clothing;
least attracted to light-coloured, smooth-textured clothing.
Insects are attracted to perfumed soaps and shampoos.
You will encounter the most insects on portages, and near rivers and marshes;
the least will be found on large lakes and windy points.
The most commonly used repellents are Muskol and Deep
Woods Off! Both use a chemical called "deet" to scramble the insects'
radar. Deet-based repellents are very effective and readily available through
pharmacies, department, hardware and camping stores, etc., but they do
have one drawback: deet is a proven carcinogen (cancer-causing agent).
It should not be used on infants or toddlers and, if used on a regular
basis, can be hazardous to children and adults.
- Off Botanicals... a new herbal repellent that is available
wherever Off Deet-based repellents are sold.
- Bug Off... an herbal repellent that is advertised as being
safe for children and pets. This product is sold at many outfitting
stores. The manufacturer, Cherryl de Villiers Products, Inc., is
located in Oakville, Ontario, and can be reached by phone at 1-877-AROMA37
Druide Natural Citronella... available in Oil, Soap and Hair
& Body Shampoo. These Canadian-made products contain all-natural ingredients,
are biodegradable and do not contain any toxic ingredients. These products
are available at many camping specialty stores and Shoppers Drug Mart
pharmacies in Canada. The manufacturer, Druide Laboratories, can be reached
by phone at 1-800-663-9693 or (514) 426-7227 [Pointe Claire, Quebec].
Some people report that Avon Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil makes
an effective insect repellent. This product is available through Avon
Repellent & Sunscreen
Products containing both insect repellent and sunscreen:
Canadian Ice Outdoor Protection Bug'N'Sun Block... contains
14.25% Deet and a Paba-free SPF 15 Sunscreen. This product is available
at many Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies in Canada. The manufacturer,
Canadian Ice International, can be reached by phone at (905) 948-8888 [Mississauga,
Coppertone Bug and Sun Block... contains 9.5% Deet and a
Paba-free SPF 15 Sunscreen. This product is available at many pharmacies
and department stores. The manufacturer, Schering-Plough Health Care Products
Canada Inc., can be reached by phone at 1-800-714-4449 [Mississauga, ON].
Muskol Insect Repellent with Sunblock... contains 9.5% Deet
and a Paba-free SPF 15 Sunblock. This product is available at many pharmacies,
department and camping specialty stores, etc. The manufacturer, Schering-Plough
Health Care Products Canada Inc., can be reached by phone at 1-800-714-4449
Off! Skintastic Lotion Insect Repellent with Sunscreen...
contains 7.125% Deet and a Paba-free SPF 15 Sunblock. This product is available
at many pharmacies and department stores. The manufacturer, S.C. Johnson
and Son Ltd. can be reached by phone at 1-800-558-5566.
If you are using a separate repellent and sunscreen: the University
of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter states that it makes sense
to apply the sunscreen first, about a half hour before exposure to the
sun, as sunscreen needs to be absorbed by the skin in order to provide
proper protection. The insect repellent, which works by emitting a vapour
from the surface of the skin can be applied second. (from June 1996 issue,
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