Vivienne Steele (and family)

by FORP on September 16th, 2013

University student (Environmental science), McGill University
Dividing Lake Ontario Ranger, 2008
In 1976, my mother travelled ten hours north from her home in southern Ontario to Five Mile Lake Ranger Camp, outside of Chapleau, Ontario. She was the first of her seven siblings to go, but many more would follow. A family tradition was beginning. In 2006, my brother turned 17, and headed north to Wade Lake Ontario Ranger Camp. When my turn came in 2008, I too headed north to Dividing Lake Ranger Camp. Two years ago, I was very proud to see my little sister pack her bags and head north to Esker Lake Ranger Camp. I have another little sister, and next summer she would have applied to the program, to follow in our family’s footsteps.
For our family, the Ranger program had become a tradition. For each of us, it was a summer of growth and independence unparalleled by any other two-month period in our lives.  The experience weighed somehow on our decisions later in life. My mother’s decision to live in Northern Ontario was inspired by the summer she spent in the north. My brother and I decided to study environmental science, and my little sister and I returned to work as ranger staff. In just two months, the Ontario Ranger Program had profoundly affected the directions our lives would take.
The Ranger program has become a tradition for many families, not just for ours.  Year after year,  youth arrive at Ranger camps across the province, telling stories of their parents, siblings or friends who had been through the program. And as each of the over 65 years of the program passed, the ranger family grew and grew. Despite closures of some camps over the years, links between families, camps and communities were solidified as another generation of rangers headed north or south from home.
Since the announcement of the closure of the program, new members of this ranger family have come forward. Photos from the early years of the program have been scanned and surfaced on the ranger blog. The photos posted on Friends of the Ontario Rangers facebook page span more than 60 years, and show the enormous network of the Ontario Ranger Program. Some photos are in black and white, some in colour, but the same message seems to predominate: “this was one of the most important summers of my life”.

Being an Ontario Ranger is a summer experience which is passed on from generation to generation in this province. I am very grateful to have experienced my ranger summer, but I want the Ontario Ranger Program to be around for my children, too.

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Dividing Lake, Wade Lake, Five Mile Lake, 2008


Gwen Hochheimer - September 18th, 2013 at 12:26 AM
HI Vivienne: John Vanthof, MP for KL area says he'll be there on the 24th. Megan Leslie, Federal NDP Env. Critic, and MP for Halifax has offered her support. She grew up in KL,and was park staff at Esker Lakes.Charlie Angus didn't answer me, but if someone who still lives in ON,esp his riding, he might respond.Great to hear from you.

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