More provincial parks offering Internet access
Surfing the Web from a campsite in the great outdoors may seem odd to some Canadians, but it's becoming easier for patrons of the country's provincial parks to go online.
Of all provinces and territories Nova Scotia leads the way, offering "hotspots" at 14 provincial parks. Meanwhile Newfoundland and Labrador is experimenting with Internet access at five of its provincial parks.
In northern British Columbia, the remote Meziadin Lake park offers a wireless connection from its campground, for a fee of $5 per day. However, B.C. Parks has reportedly said it has no immediate plans to expand Wi-Fi service elsewhere.
Last summer Saskatchewan began offering Internet hotspots at Cypress Hills park in the southwest corner of the province.
And in Ontario, wireless connections were installed at the Pinery Provincial Park on Lake Huron in 2010. Park officials said they set up the service after campers began asking for a way to stay connected during their stay.
In the past, Parks Canada has also said it was considering adding online connectivity to areas of its parks to help boost the number of visitors it receives each year.
Owners of private campgrounds have also begun to offer wireless Internet to customers. At the Barrie KOA north of Toronto, owner Amy Raposo told a local newspaper earlier this summer that the she opted to supply Wi-Fi access in response "to peoples' reliance on technology."
The trend has also gained a toehold south of the border. California has set up Wi-Fi service in all 52 of its state parks, and boasted last year that it was receiving positive feedback about the initiative.
Wi-Fi is also available "in very limited areas" of Wyoming's famous Yellowstone National Park, partly to help ensure visitor safety.
However, park officials there have received complaints from hikers who overheard phone conversations while on back-country trails, suggesting that striking a balance between those who want to stay connected and those who want a break from modern communications could be tricky.
Peter Chow-White, a communications professor at Simon Fraser University, said the trend hints at what, for some, has become an increasingly blurry line between work life and private life.
"More and more people want to remain connected, even when they are camping in the great outdoors," Chow-White said in a statement posted to the university's website this week.
"They want to update their vacation in real time on social media like Facebook," he added. "For some, there is a dividing line between being connected and being unconnected, for others those lines have disappeared."
With files from The Canadian Press