FATHERS & DAUGHTERS / Algonquin Provincial Park, 2023

When you don’t plan, some things just never happen. Some events need planning, not only to occur, but to execute. This canoe trip was a result of both, a decisive moment and commitment followed by careful execution. Here’s to getting our daughters out into the wilderness.

This trip had all the weather that a summer day could throw at us: sun, rain and hail. We spent quite a bit of time in the tent with our daughters, while waiting for the rain to stop. The hail didn’t last long but the rain came down hard and fast. We realized our error in tent location while watching the puddle swell in size right at the tent opening. I never anticipated that we would have spent so much time at a portage.

Usually the portage is tackled as efficiently and quickly as possible. Sometimes a lunch break gets incorporated into the end of a portage. This particular portage took us around multiple sets of rapids and waterfalls. After a brief initial exploration we decided to return with swimsuits and play for the afternoon.

The girls participated in everything we did on this trip: fishing, setting up tents, food prep, carrying gear over portages, gathering firewood & making fires, swimming and a lot of paddling. We are now left with only one problem – how long until we can do it again?

A ROOM WITH A VIEW / Algonquin Provincial Park, 2022

It has taken five long years for the kids and I to get back out into the canoe and go camping. A major change in life (moving to Bancroft and building a house) had left us with little time for canoe trips. The last weekend in September was unusually warm and perfect for a fall adventure. Took the kids out of school on the Friday and drove up to the park right after breakfast. By noon we were eating lunch at our camp site on the north end of Galeairy Lake.

WILDERNESS TRAILS / 6 Days on Lake Superior’s Coastal Trail, 2018

A short film exploring the beauty and ruggedness of the Coastal Trail on Lake Superior’s eastern shore.

Producers – Daryl Phillips & Scott Jordan
Corporate Sponsors – MEC & Naturally Superior Adventures
Photography – Daryl Phillips
Additional Photography – Scott Jordan
Editing – Daryl Phillips
Script – Daryl Phillips & Scott Jordan
Music – Scott Jordan
Narration – Daryl Phillips

WILDERNESS PORTRAIT / Summer in Temagami, 2017

I was asked to participate in a canoe trip this past Summer (2017) with a group of guys I mostly had never met before, in a place I had never been before and had no problem saying “yes!” The opportunity to experience something new in a familiar situation was all too enticing. The itinerary was four days and three nights on the Lady Evelyn River and Lady Evelyn Lake in the infamous wilderness area known as Temagami. This area lies in Northern Ontario, close to the Quebec border about 1-2 hours north of North Bay. Seven of us arrived in Mowat Landing around noon on a Monday morning in August and were paddling up the Lady Evelyn River an hour later, looking for our first campsite of the trip. This wilderness gathering of men was organized by a couple of men from Bethany Community Church in St. Catharines, Ontario. As I mentioned before, this was not a trip consisting of close friends – I knew only one of the seven men! This was a group on a mission: to enjoy some canoeing, fishing and camping while getting to know some new people and getting to know ourselves a little bit deeper through a study from the book of Joshua. During the trip we experienced a little bit of everything. There was plenty of good food to eat and thankfully there was only one portage to carry it over. We mostly enjoyed sunny skies and warm temperatures, but also got caught canoeing in a downpour and spent an entire evening huddled under a tarp, around a smokey fire and contemplated how early was too early to just go to bed. We got to spend a playful afternoon (swimming, eating, fishing & resting) on an island on Lady Evelyn Lake, but had to quickly head back to camp after seeing the sky quickly change from blue skies to dark clouds in a very short time. As I alluded to before, we did not manage to outrun the rain. We experienced some great campsites, good conversations, plenty of opportunities to swim and fish, one cold night followed by a beautiful morning of heavy mist on the lake and an intense time of self reflection and meditation while reading through and discussing the experiences of Joshua. “I will not be afraid, I will not fear, for You alone are a shield about me.”

WILDERNESS TRAILS / 10 Days on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, 2016

What does life on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail look like from the perspective of 22 years of canoe trips in Killarney Provincial Park? Daryl Phillips and Scott Jordan made their first canoe trip into the La Cloche Mountains, over 22 years ago and are now planning to trade in their paddles for trekking poles. Wilderness Trails brings you along for the hike and shares with you the experience of hiking through the backcountry of Killarney Provincial Park.

Producers – Daryl Phillips & Scott Jordan
Assistant Producer – Ted East / Killarney Outfitters
Photography – Daryl Phillips
Additional Photography – Scott Jordan
Editing – Daryl Phillips
Script – Daryl Phillips & Scott Jordan
Music – Scott Jordan
Narration – Daryl Phillips

ROCK POINT / Rock Point Provincial Park, 2016

One night at Rock Point Provincial Park with the kids. This park is close to home so a quick one night trip is worth the effort – kind of like an extended day at the beach!

COMPASSION / Honduras & Nicaragua 2015

Join us as we travel through Honduras and Nicaragua for ten days to visit three of our kids we sponsor through Compassion Canada.

WILDERNESS PORTRAIT / Autumn in Algonquin, 2015

Solo canoe trip in Algonquin Provincial Park, October 2015 on Rock Lake

89 BELL LAKE / Killarney Provincial Park, 2014

2014 Summer Canoe Trip in Killarney Provincial Park

SNOWSHOE / Algonquin Provincial Park, 2013

Spending a few days snowshoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park is a great place to be at Christmas! Staying in a yurt at the Mew Lake Campground has started to become a tradition in our family. This kind of winter shelter allows us to winter camp with toddlers, who refuse to stay inside of their sleeping bag all night long. After spending the day enjoying the crisp, cool winter air and the bounty of snow, it feels quite luxurious to head into a warm yurt to dry off and warm up. I know a fire works well too, but it’s not quite the same. After supper and a stint around the campfire, we move inside to read, talk, laugh and play a few rounds of euchre before crawling into our sleeping bags for a good nights sleep. If you think that your fellow campers are friendly during the summer months, your winter neighbours are even more so. We met a couple (Tom & Sarah) from Burlington and after chatting discovered our mutual love of wilderness camping in Killarney Provincial Park. (If you two ever read this, don’t forget to show us your photos of your Philip Edward Island trip.)

FREEDOM / Killarney provincial Park, 2013

“Let freedom ring from the mountain tops…” was part of the speech made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. fifty years ago now. I had just returned from our annual canoe trip in Killarney Provincial Park and was driving home from work one day. I heard on the radio that it was fifty years ago today, that inspiring address was delivered to hundreds of thousands during the ‘Great March on Washington’. My short film really has nothing to do with protests, injustice or racism. During the drive home, I was mulling over titles for the film I had yet to edit and when I heard Dr. King, speak those words, “let freedom ring from..” I had my title – Freedom! That is what I experience when I am in the wilderness. Let me first explain that I do not consider myself to be oppressed – in fact, for the most part quite the opposite. In wilderness, I experience freedom from the influence of our society. I do not feel the pressures of conformity or hear of distant wars, inner city violence and backyard hatred. I also experience a bit of freedom from the internal chatter that usually invades my thoughts. The wilderness seems to have a way of quieting my mind so that I can hear that still, small voice I so long to hear. There is freedom in sharing so intimately around a campfire with your loved ones. At home we all come together around the dinner table, but out here we all gather around the campfire. There is freedom to relax and unwind the tension you have coiled up for far too long. After a long day of fresh air, many activities, after a hot meal in your belly, listening to the chorus of crickets and watching the flames dance around the logs – the stage has been set, permission has been granted to breathe deep and settle in to a comfortable position around the warmth of the fire. One activity we enjoy very much is swimming. My wife likes the challenge of swimming back and forth across the lakes. The kids and I prefer to throw ourselves off cliffs into the clear blue lakes of Killarney Provincial Park. We love the freedom we have to swim where ever and when ever we like. Every campsite is a great place to swim from. The shoreline is usually a large flat rock gently sloping into the water or a steep cliff face plunging straight down into the lake. This trip to Killarney Provincial Park was new for us in a few ways. We travelled to a part of the park we had never seen – Johnnie Lake and Ruth Roy Lake. Both these lakes were more beautiful than I expected. Since this was our daughter’s (15 months old) first canoe trip, we planned only one small portage. I think she enjoyed the most freedom of us all – so many new things to see, taste, touch and smell. This trip was also our longest – 5 nights and 6 days, with the least amount of travel/portaging and the most amount of leisure and activity time. We even found time to play cards! When we are in wilderness the freedom I experience is like having unrestricted use of all the resources around me. There are no line ups to jump off the cliff. There is no road rage or traffic jams out on the lakes. No one calls you at supper time to inquire about a survey or life insurance or something else you don’t want. The only one coming to your door step are chipmunks, birds, loons and various other local riffraff. Your neighbour lives down the lake so far that you don’t know they are there until you see their fire at night. What a beautiful place this is! What a beautiful place to be and experience with your family! “Let freedom ring…”

9 MONTHS / Algonquin Provincial Park, 2012

This was our first experience at winter camping! Well, maybe we cheated a little. Pulling our truck up to a heated octagonal, heated tent on a wooden platform with bunk beds is probably not exactly winter camping. We did have to consider the fact that our daughter was only 9 months old! We drove up to the park on Christmas day, leaving behind St. Catharines with no snow and arriving to a fresh blanket of snow in the Mew Lake Campground. There were more people camping than I had imagined – both for being Christmas and being winter. Included with all the “Yurt Campers”, were some trailers, a site illuminated by many strands of Christmas lights on their tents and one solo camper in a tent that had a mini wood stove in it. The yurt was very spacious for the three of us. I guess it seemed more like a mansion to our Eureka El Capitan 3 tent that we usually sleep in. During our first night in the yurt we listened to the hum of the heater fan blowing warm air all night long. We were later told that the temperature went as low as -20c. I guess that’s why the heater did not stop during the night. Regardless, my wife and I and our 9 month old daughter kept each other warm, stuffed in our double sized sleeping bag. Sleeping with a toque on helped as well. All cooking had to be done outside, under the cooking shelter or on the fire. If you like sitting around a campfire in the less snowier months of the year, you will love the campfire in the winter. Listening to the winter silence, watching the snow gently fall and feeling the warmth of the fire is a memorable experience. Our daughter didn’t appreciate the fire as much as we did. She was not walking yet and could not do her usual crawling around to get where she wanted to go because of her snowsuit. So she was a bit restless. I am already making plans for another trip this coming Christmas; steaks grilled over the fire, board games with the family, snowshoeing on the lake and more Christmas memories from Algonquin. Also, no more films named after how old my daughter is anymore.

FISHERS OF MEN / Algonquin Provincial Park, 2019

The Bridge Community Church (Bancroft) men’s canoe trip during the summer of 2019.

THE BEST DAY EVER / Killarney Provincial Park, 2017

“This is so the best day ever” my daughter exclaimed as she watched the popcorn kernels explode into their white, fluffy glory. The handle for the Jiffy Pop was much too short and I had to set it on the fire. I should have known better. She paid no attention to my apology for burning the popcorn – just continued to selectively work her way through eating as much of it as she could. I guess the experience of making popcorn, while camping, was more important than my ability to produce a perfect bowl of camp ‘Jiffy Pop’. I love how excited the kids get when I tell them we are going camping, how we get to sleep in a tent, with our sleeping bags and special camp pillows, that I brought hotdogs to cook over the fire and of course how they get to go to the bulk food store to pick out their own snacks for the canoe trip. They were even more excited, after we all gathered firewood, I told them they could help me place sticks on the fire. That was a first for them after always being told no, up until this point in their young lives. Watching my kids as they participate in a canoe trip is inspiring. They are never bored. There are times when I need to lead (when to go to bed, brush your teeth, don’t hit your sister – parental type stuff) but most of the time I follow their lead. They seem to move along seamlessly from one activity to another and from one discovery to another. I just tag along and join in on the sense of wonder they exhibit at each new experience. Our campsite (#56) was high up on a rocky peninsula with views on three sides. It was very large with a lot of area to roam – even room for small children to run. The site had an expansive view of the lake with views of both sunrise and sunset. If we were quiet, we could hear the sound of a waterfall located across the lake from us to the north. This was a site that would need a stay of a few days to fully enjoy every aspect of it. I guess the next time I bring popcorn, I will have to lash a stick to the Jiffy Pop handle so I can safely hold the popcorn out over the fire. I don’t intend to burn the popcorn twice in a row, despite my daughter’s gracious gesture.

MOSQUITO ISLAND / Killarney Provincial Park, 2017

There is no such island in Killarney, but in my daughter’s mind we were on Mosquito Island for the duration of our shortest canoe trip to date. We drove up to the park for the weekend to host a film screening of Wilderness Trails at the park amphitheatre. Scott (co-creator of the film) and his family joined us for lunch (fish & chips) in the town of Killarney before we headed to the park to set up our camp sites. After supper we headed over to the amphitheatre to set up equipment and do a sound check. What a perfect setting to watch the film we made of our hike on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail. Thank you to Rachelle from K.P.P. and the Friends of Killarney Park for bringing us up to show our film! Since we were already in the park we thought why not a short canoe trip. The following morning we set off to the Bell Lake access point to canoe to the only lake we could reserve (last minute planning) that was close enough for our ‘one nighter’ – Grey Lake. This was to be the kids (ages 3 & 5) first experience with a portage – 595M from the east side of Bell Lake into Grey Lake. They were excited about the hike because each of them had been allowed to bring their own backpacks. So off they went, down the path, deeper into the forest as I walked close behind them, weighted down with a pack on both my back and front and a camera in one hand. Thankfully I had one free hand because the mosquitos did not take very long to zone in on the two inexperienced mosquito swatters. So with that free hand I swatted mosquitos away from my son and daughter while they walked as fast as their little legs could go. When we finally arrived at the end of the portage, I dropped all my gear and quickly retrieved the bug spray while I listened to my daughter confidently announce, “I do not like Mosquito Island, this is the worst day of my life!” Site 239 on Grey Lake is a fantastic spot to camp! Nice views down the lake to the east, a couple of good tent pads and a few different options for swimming. We swam for an hour or so that afternoon, enjoyed a supper of salad, steak and potatoes, the kids wandered all over the site, looked for frogs, climbed rocks and later we all enjoyed a warm fire & conversation on a cool summer night with good friends. I know that my daughter had earlier said that it was the worst day of her life, but from the looks of the activities from the rest of the day (watch the film), I think it might have been one of the best days of her life – even though she seems to mostly recall the mosquitos.

LAUNCH / Killarney Provincial Park, 2016

There’s a place, a garden for the young
To laugh and dance in safety among
The shimmering light in the shade of the trees
(Josh Garells / Morning Light)

For the past eight consecutive years, I have taken my kids on a canoe trip in Killarney Provincial Park. This place is truly “a garden for the young” and the young at heart. We spent four nights and five days, away from our daily routine, with just our canoe, paddles, backpacks, a bit of food, a few clothes and a heightened sense of adventure. The air was fresh, the lakes were glassy blue, the forest alive and the company – simply perfect! There are moments for contemplation and solitude here, but away from the distractions of our day to day lives, we have so many opportunities to connect and strengthen relationships. This is one of my favourite ‘playgrounds’ and we have many fond memories of time spent here. “The times are changing, I can feel it in my bones Cause I’m standing on the edge of the other side of all that I’ve known It’s been a long time coming, I take one last breath With my eyes open wide, smiling up into the skies, it begins with a step” (Josh Garells / Run) As a Dad, I could sense that times were changing and if I couldn’t feel it in my bones, I could feel it in many other ways. It seems that not that long ago I held my kids until they begged to be let down to run off to their next adventure. My son had recently turned eighteen and is no longer a boy. Picking him up and holding him for any prolonged length of time is now unfortunately awkward. I know there is nothing magical or religious about the moment you turn a specific age, but at some point in a boy’s life, things must and will change. A launch: is a point at which something begins, or to launch: is to put into operation or to set in motion. So at the launch of his voyage into manhood, we decided to embark on a new place in the park to celebrate the occasion. We have never been to the infamous Grace and Nellie Lakes in all the years of canoeing in the park. At first, the long paddle into the park and the 1000m+ portages kept us away when the kids were younger. Later on the excuse was it added so much more time onto our already long drive. It was finally time to take that metaphorical first step and journey into the unknown. This particular unknown was not necessarily scary, but when you have loved the past canoe trips so much, the unknown can be a bit intimidating and exciting all at the same time. I have the same sense with my kids growing up and becoming responsible for themselves. It is a bit intimidating and yet there is the potential of so much that I am excited for them. May you take that first of many steps toward all that God has created you to be. It has been a joy to have had the responsibility of setting the stage for this launch into the next stage of your journey. May the fires that burn inside you provide for you more than mere warmth – but purpose, direction and meaning.

I LOVE CAMPING / Killarney Provincial Park, 2015

This was my daughter’s third canoe trip. This one was a little different – just the two of us – father and daughter. She loves camping – in fact she often tells me that, “Daddy … I love camping!” She’s my little helper. She volunteers to help gather firewood, chop firewood, set up the tent, filter water from the lake, cook the meals, build the fire, do the dishes and load/unload the canoe. She especially likes exploring around the site, swimming in the lake, playing with sticks, pine combs, rope or anything she can get her hands on and throwing rocks in the lake. At 3 years old she did great! For the first time (on this trip) she paddled by herself, roasted her own marshmallow, jumped in the lake unassisted and helped prepare the meals. A canoe trip alone with a young child does have its’ challenges. Paddling on a windy lake is not an easy task, portaging requires much more effort and time and supervising her (by myself) so that she does not wander off becomes a full time job with one that is so adventurous. I’m not sure when her and I will head out into the wilderness again just the two of us. But when it does happen, I know that I will cherish it as much as I did this trip. Hopefully she will be able to carry more than just her paddle by then.


In the fall of 2013, a friend and I set out to canoe the lakes of Killarney Provincial Park, for the first time during the cooler months of the year. We had only been in the park during the summer months. I also had a vision of creating a short film on the essence of wilderness camping. I know that many people have never heard of this type of vacation, let alone ever participated in it. One of my goals was to show what wilderness camping is all about. I wanted to break down the experience in all it’s fundamental parts, illustrating what goes on and the possibilities that can be found in a wilderness experience. We were ready for frost in the mornings and rain during the day, but what we got were sunny days and warm evenings for late September weather in the park. Those are not stunt men swimming in the lakes that time of year – that is indeed us testing the waters. The only disappointment of the trip was that it was too short. Usually we spend close to a week, with our respective families, and this trip was only 2 nights away. We did experience a typical experience though: lots of paddling – on five lakes, a few portages – short and long, a bit of swimming, reading, resting, hiking, plenty of good food (thanks Sharon!) and two extremely peaceful sleeps. Wilderness camping is not as simple as I portray in the film. I didn’t show all the preparation that goes into packing, trip planning and making reservations, dehydrating and meal prep as well as travel plans. During the trip and long after, all the planning and preparation are always worth the effort. The memories are priceless, unique and very rewarding. What are some of your favourite wilderness camping memories?

5 MONTHS / Algonquin Provincial Park, 2012

We brought our “wide-eyed wonder” girl back to Algonquin Provincial Park at 5 months of age. The water was a lot warmer after a full summer of solar gain. The nights were a little cooler and more comfortable than mid July, especially for snuggling with my wife and daughter. Most of the weekend was spent swimming or kayaking. I was impressed with my wife for not having to abandon the kayaks because our daughter was hungry. That was the first time I had ever seen a mother breast feeding in a kayak! Isabel by FireI can’t remember my early childhood memories when my parents took me camping. I wonder what she thinks or feels, while stepping in the lake and feeling the sand shift under her feet, or staring out across the lake from the perspective of a kayak or watching the flames from our campfire dance around in the air? The world must be full of wonder from her perspective! One of our Algonquin traditions is to stop at Henrietta’s Bakery (just east of Huntsville on HWY60) on the way back home. They have the best baked goods and breads in the area. Just a warning, you had best decide on a spending limit before you enter the store.

3 MONTHS / Algonquin Provincial Park, 2012

I have always exposed my kids to the great outdoors since… well, since the chord was cut. We played in the streams that flowed over the Niagara Escarpment, swam in the frigid waters of western Georgian Bay and the warmer waters of Lake Huron, canoed in the local town river (pictured below), snowshoed in the back bush and camped as often as was possible. MacCanoingAt the earliest of ages the kids have shown a strong desire to ride a bike, push a wheel barrow, help build a tree house, and paddle the canoe by themselves. You couldn’t pay them to play inside, unless they wanted food. So with my daughter at 3 months old, I did not hesitate to say to my wife, “let’s go camping this weekend.” Most people we told thought we were brave, ambitious and other code words which meant “you’re crazy!” My daughter was fine and more relevantly, we were fine. She had her 1st swim in the lake, 1st kayak ride, 1st camp fire and 1st sleep in a tent! The hardest part was the 5 hour drive to the park.

PASSAGE / Killarney Provincial Park, 2012

When does a boy become a man? After a few canoe trips? When society says he is old enough to drive or old enough to drink? I’ve heard many answers to this questions, but the most common one is “I’m not sure!” The summer canoe trip is an annual event in our family. With great anticipation, we study topographical maps, try new dehydrated food recipes, talk about trip expectations and wonder where we will find large enough rocks to hurl ourselves off into the lake. When reservations were made back in late winter, I began thinking it was time to assist my oldest son, with his passage from childhood into Manhood. What better place to do this than on our annual canoe trip! I invited a friend to accompany us on the trip and to help with the process. We didn’t do anything stupid, like dance on top of a mountain, naked, waving cedar boughs. We did, however, have authentic conversation (around a fire of course) about the responsibilities of a man and and the essential differences between a boy and a man. How do you know you are a man if you don’t know what a man is (besides the obvious gender thing)? I believe you become a man when your father tells you that you are and what it takes to be a man. One definition of passage is – the right to pass through somewhere. While on canoe trips we are constantly passing from one place to another. Our passages come in the form of waterways, portages and trails. These passages mark the transitions from one place to another. Marking our passages in our life journey, I believe is important because without them we are not as certain where we are and where we have been. “When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (1 Cor. 13:11,12) My son is on his way, emerging at the end of the portage called adolescence and staring out across a big beautiful lake of opportunity and adventure. I am excited for him and am thankful I have been given the opportunity to help him along the way. Fathers are to help their sons through the stormy passages of life and I am richer because of it (even though I didn’t enjoy every moment and understand everything at the time). “Farther along the way, we’ll know all about it. Farther along the way, we’ll understand why.” (first few lines from Farther Along by Josh Garrels)

LAKE EXPOSURE / Killarney Provincial Park, 2011