Farting In the Woods? 

Backcountry Ethics

Ethics cover more than your relationship with others, 

but your personal safety and health, and the state of the wilderness.

Every geographic area has special considerations. These ethics are specific to Temagami.

Graphic: backhouse ethics

  • Use the outhouse, thunderbox, privy, kaibo or whatever contraption is present. Hope it's downwind. 

  • Bury it, if no facilities are present, with the toilet paper (bumwad in Canada, eh) in a cat hole (tip: dig the hole first) in the first six inches of duff and soil (this will speed up its return to the Maker). 

  • Don't leave your droppings within 200 feet (60 meters) of a campsite, tent site or water body.

  • Don't urinate or leave your deposit in streams or lakes. If you see any animals doing it, ask them to step into the bush.

Photo: outdoor privy in use

Too close !!

Litter Lasts

Cigarette butt 1-5 years
Orange peel up to 2 years
Plastic bag 10-20 years
Aluminum can 80-100 years
Glass bottle 1,000,000 years

Plastic bottle


Source: USDA Forest Service

Shitting When the 

Mosquitoes Are Biting

Insider's Tip:  Timing, not location, is everything. Don't drop your pants until everything is in place. Get your toilet paper positioned. Undo zippers and buttons. Let your bowels relax. Then at the last possible moment, drop and go.

Graphic: campsite ethics

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Even better, leave the campsite cleaner than the way you found it. 

  • Make the right amount of food. What you leave behind will attract unwanted animals, even if buried. If you have leftovers (and are just too stuffed to eat it), move it 200 feet (60 meters) from the campsite, any tent site and any water body. Bury in the first six inches of duff and soil to speed up its return to the Great Loon. 

  • Don't cut standing trees on or within sight of a campsite or portage. Losing your glasses over the side of the canoe is not an excuse. 

  • Do not wash dishes in or around water bodies. Soap and food particles feed algae and other nuisance aquatics, even if it is biodegradable. Pour the soapy water 200 feet (60 meters) far back from water's edge. 

  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent. It is incredible how easily a beautiful campsite can turn into a dusty wasteland.

  • Camp on established campsites. These can be found in the Lake Temagami Atlas or Temagami Canoe Routes Planning Map available from Temagami outfitters.

  • Do not build structures or dig trenches. Trenches contribute to erosion.

Photo: big cooking pot over campfire Going to eat it all?
Image: Portage ethics Photo: yield
  • Yield on a short portage (less than 200 yards or 180 meters) to others. Don't start until they're done. 

  • Don't litter the end of a trail with your gear. Leave it to one side so others can get through. 

  • Don't camp on a portage right-of-way. Keep to one side so it's clear for others.

  • Don't leave your gastrointestinal expulsions within 100 feet (30 meters) of a portage (and still 200 feet back from water). Otherwise, watch your step!

  • Yield to the faster portager by pulling over and stopping when there is room. Watch out for wide fenders.

  • Yield to anyone with a load if you're not carrying.

Fire ethicsfire graphic

  • Use the existing fireplace location. Fire scars will last centuries so don't add to them. Keep blackened rocks, ashes and embers at the fireplace. 

  • Create fires only in safe places.

  • Make sure your fire is out. Check it with your hands to be sure. If there is soil underneath, with your hands dig down several inches to be sure. Now wash your hands.

  • Do not leave unburned trash in the fireplace.

  • Do not build bonfires, not even on rock points.

  • Do not smoke on portages.

Lake Temagami ethics  Graphic: motorboat

  • Stay off islands. Most are private land as cottage development is virtually islands-only.

  • Don't camp in a campsite that is near a cottage. Give them space. 

  • Keep the noise down.

  • Don't block motorboat channels. They have to stay in the channel, but a canoe doesn't.

  • Stay out of motorboat channels at night and carry lights. Boats do travel this lake at night.

  • Do spend your money in the village of Temagami and at local businesses. If we support them, they will support us in preserving our wilderness.

Wilderness ethics

Take only photos and experiences. Leave rocks, cultural and historical sites, plants and nature as you find it. 

Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species. Zebra mussels are the proverbial example of what can go wrong.

Maximum size of party 12 people with a maximum of six canoes. Video cameras on portages will spot violators.

Wilderness is a right. 

Rights carry responsibilities.


Photo: pictograph on Diamond Lake

Defaced native rock art on Diamond Lake (indicated by arrows).

Temagami youth camps' camping ethics

Written by Association of Youth Camps on the Temagami Lakes (AYCTL)

  DOCUMENT:  Camping Ethics for Backcountry Travel (PDF file)

                               Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to read PDF files

   Home   Rupert Battle   Rupert River   Temagami   Che-Mun

    Forum   Crees   Camps   Canoes   Keewaydin Way   Search   About   Contact Us

Maps and information herein are not intended for navigational use, and are not represented to be correct in every respect. 
All pages intended for reference use only, and all pages are subject to change with new information and without notice. 
The author/publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for use of the information on these pages. 
Wilderness travel and canoeing possess inherent risk. 
 It is the sole responsibility of the paddler and outdoor traveler to determine whether he/she is qualified for these activities.
Copyright  2000-2014 Brian Back.  All rights reserved.
We do not endorse and are not responsible for the content of any linked document on an external site.

Photo Credit policy