Ken Cheney

by FORP on October 13th, 2013

Water Resources Engineer
Wade Lake Ontario Ranger, 2000 
In the summer of 2000, when I travelled the Ontario Northland Train from Washago to Cochrane, and the Wade Lake Ontario Ranger Camp beyond, I had made a decision that would change the course of my career.  However, at the time, I had no idea that this was the case. 
My father and two uncles, each of whom had been a Ranger, told me how lucky I was to be spending my summer in the Ontario Ranger Program.  Initially, I didn’t want to spend the summer way up north in the bugs, working long hours in the bush away from modern conveniences.  But once I arrived, I found out very quickly that while there were indeed long hours working in the bugs, there was so much more than that.  I became hooked on the remote wilderness, the summer flew by and I didn’t want to leave.  At the completion of the summer, I came home with a number of certifications to put on my resume along with a newfound confidence and sense of accomplishment. 

The following summer I applied to return to the Ontario Ranger Program as an Assistant Sub-Supervisor and spent two summers at the Machesney Lake Ranger Camp.  After my first summer at Machesney Lake, it was back to Grade 13 and time to choose a university program.  Now back to that career-changing decision I mentioned.  I had always been on a path of math and science.  I still enjoyed math and science, but on its own, it no longer seemed fulfilling.  It was missing something.  In my case, it was missing nature, the environment, natural resources; all the things I had come to respect and care about during my previous two summers in the Ontario Ranger Program. 
I no longer wanted to design cars or work with electronics.  What a relief when I discovered the Environmental Engineering Co-op Program at the University of Waterloo.  Perfect!  Once I completed my co-op requirements, I managed to squeeze in two more summers at the Round Lake Ontario Ranger Camp before graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2007. 
By stepping onto that train in the summer of 2000, I had changed the course of my professional career.  Without my Ontario Ranger experience I would not be a Water Resources Engineer today. It saddens me deeply to know that the benefits this program provides may be taken away from future generations.  In my opinion, the Ontario Ranger Program needs to be brought back and expanded to afford future generations the opportunity, at the very least, to become aware of what the “environment” in Ontario really is. In some cases, it may change the direction of their career or even their life.  What a shame to take that away.  We should all aim for better. 

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with 2000, Wade Lake


Gwen Hochheimer - October 13th, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I've waited for the train many times at Washago, on my way up home to near New Liskeard. You and I were two of the luckiest teens in the province, by getting to spend three summers with the program. I volunteer with environmental stewardship groups here in NS, and when I tell them about the ORP, they just re - iterate how lucky everyone in Ontario is (was) that the program exists (ed). I don't have the science background that you do. It was the outdoor recreation aspect of the program that most strongly influenced my life, but I am very fortunate to be able to volunteer with smart people such as yourself, who work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. Gwen H. Cashel Lake '78 (Bancroft), Kap kig iwan '79, Esker Lakes '80 (Swastika/KL)

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