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In the Bush: When it comes to camping, I'm all about the familiarity

There are limitless places to camp, but Viki Mather has her favourites and frequents them often

There’s still nothing I love more than getting out in the canoe to paddle familiar waterways and camp out for days at a time. 

The focus is on familiar. There are places I’ve been camping for more than 40 years. I know them well. Finding new places is OK, too, but I keep coming back to the places I know best.

On an early June trip this year, we traveled to Phillip Edward Island, which is located just south of Killarney Park. It is the most beautiful place in the world…as we discovered more than 25 years ago. It is most attractive to us early in the paddling season because northern Georgian Bay has hardly any mosquitoes and black flies, unlike the interior lake where I live.

Our favourite campsite in the world is about a two hour paddle east of the Chikanishing Creek parking lot. Countless islands make a wonderful maze for us wind our way through. The LaCloche Mountains in the background give startling contrast to the glacial smooth pink granite of islets that barely crest the surface of the water.

Even though we have our longstanding favourite places to put our tent, we are always on the lookout for ‘where could we camp’. The list of ideals for camping spots grows longer every year. And we have discovered that the weather and the time of year have a very big impact on the desirability of a campsite. 

Sometimes we need protection from the wind. And of course that depends on which way the wind is coming from. A beautiful sunrise site would not be great in a cold, wet eastern wind. And the ever amazing sunset sites are too hot in the afternoon sun of summer. 

If weather is not a factor, then the first thing on the list is can we land the canoe? If the slope is too steep to get out of the boat, there’s no way to get to the next requirement – a flat place to put the tent. 

I like an eastern view…and yes the view is a factor. Being a morning person, it’s nice to have the solar heater on when I get out of the tent. Add to that a great swimming spot to help wake up! 

It’s good to have some wide open spaces to catch the breeze, keep the bugs off, and to enhance that expansive feeling of freedom. I also like to be able to roam.

It’s nice to take a long walk in the woods right from the campsite. All the better if there is a high point to climb for a magnificent view of the world.

Still, at the end of the day I find myself draw back to the place I know best. Twenty five years of camping on the same piece of Georgian Bay bedrock brings comfort like coming home.

Viki Mather has been commenting for Northern Life on the natural world and life in Greater Sudbury since the spring of 1984. Got a question or idea for Viki? Send an email to