With Ontario’s Victoria Day and Québec’s Fête des patriotes long weekend approaching, the best place to go camping is probably the back yard.  COVID-19 emergency measures are keeping privately and publicly owned campgrounds in Québec and Ontario closed until further notice.

As of May 4, Camping Québec, which is the association of private and municipals campgrounds across the province, had not received any indication from the Québec government about when campgrounds may open for the 2020 camping season. Campgrounds are not considered an essential business and precautions over physical distancing are keeping them closed until further notice.

Local campgrounds in Québec include the Halte-Camping Chutes des Sept-Soeurs on Route 148 by Rivière-Rouge in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge and the Brownsburg-Chatham municipal campground and marina by the Ottawa River.  According to the Brownsburg-Chatham municipal website, the opening date for the municipal campground and marina by the Ottawa River and Route 344 at Cushing the opening date is still undetermined.  A small sign by the park gate states that the facility is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

Down the road at Parc Carillon, the gates also remain locked.  The park, which is owned and operated by the Municipalité de St-André d’Argenteuil does however have signage telling visitors that they may walk around in the park if they observe physical distancing.

The locks are locked

While the municipal park at Carillon is closed, the nearby canal and locks will not be operating on the May long weekend either.  That means that boaters will not be able to get around the Carillon hydroelectric dam, which is the only obstacle to navigation on the Ottawa River between Montréal and Ottawa.  The Carillon Canal and lock is owned and operated by Parks Canada, the federal national parks agency.  It has announced that all national parks and historic sites will be closed until at least May 31.  The parking lot and picnic area near the historic toll collector’s house at the Carillon Canal has been blocked off.

No camping in Ontario

Along with private and municipal campgrounds in Québec being closed, the system of parks, wildlife reserves, and tourist centres operated by Sépaq, the provincial parks agency, are also closed indefinitely due to COVID-19 emergency measures.

The situation is similar in Ontario.  All private and municipal campgrounds are required to remain closed until at least May 19.  It could be longer, depending on if the provincial government renews the emergency orders.

All provincial parks in Ontario, which include Voyageur near Chute-à-Blondeau, will be closed for camping until at least May 31.  However, the parks began opening for limited day use on May 11.

No taking cover from COVID at the cottage

For cottagers with properties in the Laurentians, the Québec government is relaxing restrictions on travel within the province, but cottagers are still being advised not to use their secondary residences as places of refuge from the pandemic situation.  Municipalities throughout the Laurentians are advising part-time residents to stay home in order to reduce pressure on essential local businesses, services, and to minimize transmission of COVID-19.

National parks and historic sites like the Carillon Canal remain closed until May 31. Photo: James Morgan