Quetico Provincial Park closed until May 31

Beaverhouse Lake, Quetico Provincial Park (By Nicholas4343 via Wikimedia Commons)

The government of Ontario recently extended closures for all its provincial parks until May 31. This includes popular canoe destination Quetico Provincial Park, just across the border from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The closure is intended to protect public health during the coronavirus pandemic. It was announced in a statement from Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

“In order to keep Ontarians safe during this COVID-19 outbreak, our government is extending the closure of Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves to May 31, 2020,” Elliot and Yurek said. “This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities, access points and all public buildings.”

All Ontario parks were previously closed on March 19 through the end of April, but because of the season, the impact on Quetico visitors was minimal. The extended closure will now include Victoria Day Weekend in Canada, May 15-18, a traditional long weekend and popular time for trips to parks. It’s when ranger stations typically open, and when naturalist programs usually start for the summer season at Quetico’s Dawson Trail Campground.

A large share of Quetico’s visitors come from the United States, paddling across the border with Remote Area Border Crossing permits. The U.S.-Canada border is also still closed to non-essential travel, including tourism and recreation, meaning Americans are not able to enter Quetico.

Earlier this month, WTIP in Grand Marais interviewed Quetico superintendent Trevor Gibbs about COVID-19’s possible impact on the park this year.

“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, public safety and the health and well-being of visitors and staff in Ontario Parks is our top priority,” Gibbs said.

It’s expected that the border closures will last longer than travel restrictions for Canadians and Americans within their own countries.

Reservations affected by closures will be automatically cancelled and refunded. Visitors can also get a refund for any changes or cancellations of 2020 camping reservation, regardless of when and if it is affected by closures.

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