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18 Aug, Thursday
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Montreal Families

Innovative Tents Simplify Camping

When I was a teenager, I went to a summer camp that specialized in training campers to navigate and survive the waterways and parks of northern Quebec. Twelve of us would spend a week in La Verendrye Park, paddling through the lakes and rivers and then finding a spot on land to set up our tents for the night. We’d collect wood and see who could make a ‘one-match’ fire, and then marvel at how good our dehydrated food tasted after long days in the sun.

Those trips were tough, especially when it rained, but I loved every minute of them. However, as I grew older and started a family, those sorts of trips became a distant memory. Unless you are a die-hard naturalist, it’s not always desirable or practical to pitch a tent in the wilderness and cook over a wood fire when you are with young children.

But now there’s an interesting option available for families who like the idea of camping, but don’t want to invest in all the equipment or bother with the set-up and takedown.

Sépaq, the organization that manages the Quebec parks system, has purchased ready-made tents that come with all the accoutrements a family could need. As of June 20, 60 Huttopia tents will be available in 13 of Quebec’s national parks.

Designed by the French firm Huttopia, the tents have been adapted to the specific needs of Quebec’s climate with the addition of a rigid door, fly screens and a heating unit, all in a practical combination of canvas and wood.

The tent sits on a wooden platform and measures four metres by four metres, with a canvas roof and walls. The space includes two bedrooms as well as living spaces both inside and outside (under an awning), all fully furnished and equipped with camping- style pieces.

The cost of renting the Huttopia tent is $99 a night for two adults and children under 18. There is a supplementary fee of $5 for additional adults.

The cost includes access to a campsite with the five-person Huttopia tent (maximum four adults), a choice of electric or gas heating, electric lighting or lighting equipment (liquid paraffin candles), a two-burner camp stove under an awning outdoors, a small fridge, dishes, and everything you need to make meals, plus a picnic table and two garden chairs. Linens, food and a cooler are not provided. (Taxes and entry fees to the park are not included in the rate.)

I’m not 16 anymore, and roughing it is no longer my style. I haven’t been camping in years but with these new tents now an option, I may consider a stay in a Huttopia tent instead of renting a cottage for my two-week vacation.

For more information about the tents and the parks where they will be available, call (800) 665-6527 or visit www.sepaq.com.

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