Collections of stories and anecdotes of ATVing in Canada by Andrew Ryeland of 




- Andrew Ryeland  

Parry Sound North Star July 30, 2003 




As Canadians we sometimes take the beauty of our vast outdoors for granted.  We focus on the obstacles our terrain and climate present rather than the majesty.  Not so for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flood our tourist seasons!


In the coastlands of Georgian Bay Country we are blessed with some of the most spectacular wilderness on the planet.  And comments from tourists around the globe echo that sentiment.  There are several ways for a tourist to drink in our land’s majesty, by air, water and land.  Until recently, wilderness adventures for the latter often entailed levels of physical exertion and time commitment beyond the capabilities of most of our visitors.  Glimpsing a moose in a water lily filled pond, a beaver repairing a dam; an ambling porcupine in search of a bark breakfast or a black bear climbing onto a bog was limited to a video purchased in roadside trading post.


All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) have added a new opportunity to our burgeoning eco-tourism draw!  The quiet, clean and minimal footprint of today’s modern ATVs are allowing hundreds of adventurous souls to share what we have experienced our whole lives.  Contrary to some trains of thought, the wilderness is not reserved exclusively for the physically fit backpacker but is a shared experience and responsibility of all. 


Perhaps those who understand this paradigm shift best are the folks who engage in the sport and tourism initiatives of ATVing.  ATV clubs in Ontario have catered to the former but a growing number of tourism operators are servicing the latter.  The provincial Ministry of Tourism though the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership (OTMP) has stated that this impact on our economy will grow to $1 Billion per year.  Through the OTMP’s ATV Ontario initiative six entities have been recognized as ‘signature sites’.  In the past month the Parry Sound region has been deemed a ‘signature site’.  A quick math exercise reveals that 1/6 of $1 Billion is $168 Million, hence the excitement in Georgian Bay Country.


The demographics of tourism and the appeal of countries, regions and attractions are capricious, as we have all seen in the overplayed press reactions to SARS and West Nile.  The increasing urban lifestyles and the addiction to man-made entertainment is taking an ironic twist.  The most popular TV series are all about survival, challenges and contrived relationships.  This has created a great desire for ‘real’ wilderness adventures and ATVing fits the bill perfectly.