Massey Drive family has great appreciation for provincial parks

Gary Kean
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Heather Beck and her family have been happy campers for the past 17 years.

For the past 15 summers, the Becks — including her husband Gary and children Claire and Mitchell — have come to know and love Barachois Provincial Park in particular.

The Massey Drive family is among the thousands and thousands of folks who have experienced what Newfoundland and Labrador’s system of provincial parks and natural areas have offered during its 60-year history, which was recognized by the province Thursday.

Beck saw a lot of changes in the provincial park system in recent years with the expansion of more sites, comfort stations and the new reservation system. More recently, the older kids — and some adults too — have even been able to avail of WiFi hotspots in some parks.

More than just a camper, Beck worked at Barachois Provincial Park from 2007 to 2012 as an interpretation technician with the educational programs that were offered at the parks up until 2012.

“It brought the knowledge of the importance of having these parks as natural reserves to the younger generations,” she said of the educational program. “It allowed campers to explore and enjoy nature.”

The parks still offer great recreational opportunities with hiking trails and swimming areas, in addition to the invaluable family experience of camping. With their kids getting well into their teens now, the Becks don’t go to Barachois as much as they once did and are now looking to build a cabin.

“To be able to sit around the campfire with your family with nothing but loons cooing on the pond created a great memory not only to our children but many families alike,” said Beck. “Camping also made new friends we would see year to year , playing kick the can with the kids, riding bikes and kayaking as the sun rises and sets.”

Even if she hadn’t worked at Barachois for a while, Beck is certain she and her family would still have come to enjoy the same familiarity with the place and its people she and her family developed over the years.

 “The staff at Barachois knew your name, the kids and made you feel like the park was your home,” she said.

The provincial government marked the 60th anniversary of the provincial parks and natural areas system Thursday with a celebration at Sir Richard Squires Provincial Park, which was established as Newfoundland and Labrador’s first provincial park in 1954. Campers and other visitors there were joined by Environment and Conservation Minister Vaughn Granter.

“As we celebrate this significant milestone, the provincial government continues to establish, protect and manage these natural habitats for future generations while offering unique nature experiences, hiking, camping and outdoor adventures for everyone to enjoy,” Granter stated in a press release recognizing the occasion.

Since the opening of Sir Richard Squires Memorial park on the banks of the Upper Humber River around 16 kilometres north of Cormack, the system has expanded to a network of 13 camping parks, seven day-use parks, the T'Railway Provincial Park, the Main River Waterway Provincial Park and 10 park reserves. The province also has two wilderness reserves and 18 ecological reserves that protect significant seabird colonies, rare plants and significant fossil sites.

Geographic location: Barachois Provincial Park, Newfoundland and Labrador, Barachois Upper Humber River Cormack T'Railway Provincial Park Main River Waterway Provincial Park

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