Parks Canada wants to offer free WiFi with your portage trip

Daniel Bader

April 29, 2014 6:17 pm

Parks Canada is looking to add WiFi access to portions of 50 national parks by the end of the year. While the beeps, vibrations and ringtones of smartphones may lead to a corrosion of the peaceful atmosphere that camping promises, the organization says that it has received numerous requests from visitors over the years.

Cellular access is still sporadic throughout the national parks system, limited mainly to highways and main roads in and out of the facilities. WiFi, which would be free in most areas with optional paid access for more remote areas, could allow for recreational web browsing and VoIP calls, though it’s unclear how fast the service will be.

The Globe and Mail interviewed John Langford, owner of camping trip organizer Voyageur Quest, who thoroughly dislikes the idea. According to him, and many others, camping is all about getting away from anxiety-producing notifications (and I tend to agree with him).

On the other hand, it isn’t difficult to enable Airplane Mode for the duration of one’s trip, and WiFi access will undoubtedly be limited to more heavily-visited areas of the parks.

What do you think? Would WiFi access entice or discourage a trip to a national park?

  • alphs22

    “the organization says that it has received numerous requests from visitors over the years”

    The people making these requests aren’t the type of people who would enjoy the parks in the first place. Most likely ones who are more concerned about posting selfies about camping/hiking/fishing to get internet likes, rather than actually enjoying the experience.

    Put up 2G towers for emergency situations. Anything above that is a luxury that doesn’t belong.

    • Josh Brown

      I love my smartphone but I 1000% agree with you. I look forward to a week a year without it. It would be nice to have cell service just in case though.

    • barrist

      I’m guessing they’re trying to get more people to go to the parks and this may attract those that want to stay connected to come. Or maybe I’m overthinking it.

  • beyond

    bad idea, I go to these parks to enjoy nature and get away from the stress of modern life not bring it with me

    • barrist

      Then don’t bring it…?

    • beyond

      I wont, but others will and they really should try not to if its not necessary.

  • Eduardo

    No, no, no, no (insert GIF here)

    I’m glued to my phone most of the time, but that is not the point of going camping and I absolutely disapprove.

  • Carter Loose

    It’s an interesting idea. Honestly I think it would be better to just expand cell phone service. I love the outdoors but I my phone actually has a role in my camping experience now days.

  • aaa

    I support it. If you don’t want WIFI, don’t use it.

    • mggOptimusG

      That is just dumb. I can control my data craving but I am not sure everyone else can. We get used to functionality and we come to depend on it. Ask all those iphone users lost cause their maps were dangerous.
      They should offer rental satellite phones for emergencies.

  • Shaggyskunk

    Should only be used for real emergency calls – Not for “my burger fell on some Pine needles – What do I do”
    Navigation? What ever happened to maps, a compass & orienteering?

    • hyperhyper

      They went the way of social skills and coping mechanisms. Everyone assumes that google will get them out of trouble if reality comes knocking. Wi-Fi in these parks is the last thing they need. Way to miss the point to those who are requesting it.

    • Josh Brown

      My favourite stories are of people using there emergency beacons to call for Hot chocolate. I have people that bring all the gadgets.

  • Super_Deluxe

    While I love technology, I feel like sometimes we do need time away from it in places like this where you leave all electronics at home except your cellphone for emergencies and a backup battery just in case, for a few hours and enjoy a stress free, disconnected alone time. I think this is a bad idea since parks are meant to be focused on the nature we take for-granted and keeping away from the outside world in that time frame.

  • casey

    I don’t just see this being used by people, but also researchers. Having a stable wifi connection could aid in remote data collection as well.

  • knize10

    Will Walmart open branches there too?

    • Thrasher

      Pun intended? :)

  • Dave Evans

    It surprises me sometimes how many nice, well meaning, intelligent people truly believe that since they don’t want something that no one else should be allowed to have it.

    I think this is a great idea. Think of the amount of people who for whatever reason can’t be away from work in the summer who now would be able to enjoy all that our parks offer for a few days and still be connected and be able to work a portion of the day…..This is a great idea. I may be able to make camping with my wife and kids this summer afterall.

    • hyperhyper

      If you honestly can’t be disconnected from work for 2-3 days so you can spend time with family, you may want to evaluate your priorities. I’ve been on trips with people who have to work and they are never really there. Vacationing together is more than just being physically present.

    • Dave Evans

      Seriously, you believe that I and anyone else who wishes to use wifi should re-evaluate our lives to coincide with what you want?!

    • hyperhyper

      I didn’t say that. I really don’t care if you or anyone else uses wifi – And it’s not what I want. It was a statement based on many experiences I’ve seen.

      I was merely saying that working while you are on vacation kind of defeats the purpose of going on vacation and you really never disconnect and relax. Also, by doing so, you are not teaching your children how to relax either because they look up to you and will emulate you. Do you really want them looking on their computer/phone all the time when they are supposed to be doing something with you?

      Again, I’m not telling you what you should do, I’m just an outsider looking in so I don’t know all the details about your life. What I do know though is that working while you are supposed to be spending time with your family is not the way to create lots of happy memories with them.

    • Dave Evans

      LOL…….Have a good day.

    • hyperhyper

      It is what it is. Enjoy yours too.

  • Thrasher

    Relax guys. Wifi access will most likely only be in the vicinity of the registration building (or whatever it’s called). I doubt there will be coverage all over the campground. Besides, having wifi access in your tent is not much different from people parking their RV’s fully equipped with half of their house at the campsite.

  • Chris

    (-______________________-)

    The whole point of camping, going relatively deep into the wilderness, portaging in Algonquin Park, etc. is to get away from everything.

    • J-Ro

      Stupidest thing I have ever read. Soon our national parks will look like one giant starbucks.

  • Blair Collins

    I’d love to have wifi in parks. I work remotely with my kids in an RV for much of the summer and can only stay at parks that have strong cell coverage. This would open up more options.

  • J-Ro

    Lord forbid I can’t update my FB status while camping. Or upload selfies on Instagram while fishing.

  • Mollejuo Software

    Well,

    Allow me to put this scenario on the table:

    Lachine Canal

    This 14.5 Km canal is at the heart of Montreal and is managed by Parks Canada. Is among the top places to visit in the city and it has a lot of traffic during the summer. WiFi coverage there will help a lot of people biking/walking/picnic (no camping there), specially the ones visiting the city.

    Under the previous scenario WiFi coverage is ideal.

    Other parks, I understand the wish to disconnect, in case of the Lachine Canal, it’s not possible.

    I think the same can be said to parts of the Rideau Canal located at downtown Ottawa.

    Cheers!

  • Unorthodox

    Why was my comment moderated? I only cited the interview about the people with “Blackberries”. Come on guys, did you even watch it yourself?

  • NΞIL

    An in other news “Things that bother people but don’t really matter”

    There is no problem with this, it’s a technology. I don’t go camping to stay connected. Bringing your phone portaging is a good way to destroy it. I don’t, but why hate on people who might need to? 98% of the people who go backcountry go to get away. So it’s kind of a moot point if 2% of the people who need it, have it.

  • NΞIL

    An in other news “Things that bother people but don’t really matter”

    There is no problem with this, it’s a technology. I don’t go camping to stay connected. Bringing your phone portaging is a good way to destroy it. I don’t, but why hate on people who might need to? 98% of the people who go backcountry go to get away. So it’s kind of a moot point if 2% of the people who need it, have it.

  • gmd

    Fundy National Park had a few wifi networks up and going last summer.

  • Ken K.

    People are getting too excited over such a minor issue. Most campgrounds near Banff / Jasper have 3G coverage by Rogers, Bell and Telus. If you think people are not tethering and creating WiFi hotspots in the campgrouds, you are sorely mistaken. People who are against it probably have not been camping in the last few years.

  • vn33

    I say put up WiFi, and charge people to access it. That money can go back to Parks Canada budget. This would discourage the FB/Instagram/Selfies and any gratuitous use of WiFI. Those who cannot live without WiFi (work-wise, etc) will deem that as a necessary service.
    This will give everyone a choice, and you get to vote with your wallet !

    • beyond

      i like that idea

    • rgl168

      Going to national park to work… now that’s a suggestion we should all submit to our managers for approvals. :)

  • Kevin White

    This happened last year on May long weekend. My son and wife both received phone’s/tablet for Christmas… (Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay)

    Here is the conversation I had with both of them after we setup/settled in.

    “Is there Wifi?”
    -No.
    “…I don’t have any bars on my phone?”
    -Not surprising.
    “Does your phone have the internet?”
    -No.
    “Can you turn on the hotspot thingy for us?”
    -No. Listen you two, there is no internet, no cell service, no Youtube or Facebook.

    The look on their faces was worth the trip alone…

    It was a great weekend without being connected. We read, went for walks, took pictures, drank our faces off, showed my kid how to do camp things.

    I would really be disappointed if our parks started offering WiFi. Should be left out of the parks. Seems like a taboo, to me.

    But then again, we’re in Thunder Bay, the chances we’ll get WiFi in any park in NWO is almost laughable.

    Which reminds me, gotta book a spot now!

    To the internet!

    /irony

  • mwahahahaha

    Wolves are gonna use WiFi??? WHAT!!!!! that’s crazy!

  • dawson

    DO NOT DO THIS!!! PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, DO NOT DO THIS!!
    THIS IS A DUMPER IDEA THEN REALITY T.V.!!
    (tears)
    Please…. (more tears and drop to my knees with hands in praying position) please nooooo!!!!

    Bad, bad, bad idea!!!

  • Adam

    Provincial Parks are already expensive enough as it is, where do you think the cost for Wi-Fi comes from? It certainly isn’t free. Have it at the visitors centre, but I wouldn’t want it to be around the regular sites, beach or other areas of a campground. Definitely not in the backwoods of the park either. If you need wi-fi, might as well pack up your tent, and just go home. It’s not really camping.

    • Adam

      Not to mention, many of these parks are far enough away from towns/built up areas that reliable high-speed internet might not be available? a 10mbps connection will clog up mighty quick. At which point, we’re all paying for a subpar service that doesn’t work.

    • barrist

      It’s probably coming from all the services and staff that have been cut in the recent past. They need to gather back some revenue and attracting more visitors that would like to stay connected could be a cost-effective way of doing it.

  • GrimConch

    You can just…. not use it. I get that you guys are super addicted to your tweets but don’t ruin this for everyone else.