I am in process of immigrating from Russia to Canada. While I've fallen out of... Well, everything that includes movement... I have plans to resume wilderness trips after I finish immigration processes.

Now, I'm not sure about what law states in Russia, but the fact is, you can get to rural area, go to any forest, and start gathering whatever you like (I mean mushrooms and berries), cut down trees for a hovel or fires and generally just do anything. Same with bodies of water - you can get on the boat and fish just about anywhere. Not sure about hunting, never tried it (and don't want to).

I'm talking about general areas, not protected territories, and "personal" scale (fishing poles and spinnings, maybe nets, not dynamite). The things is, Russia has a lot of rural population that lives like they would before the idea of conservation existed.

So, before I became a couch potato, I greatly enjoyed being in the wild, in a described way, and I feel like what is described as "camping" in "civilized" world is too civilized for my tastes - while driving a car to a well-equipped spot, with parking, toilets and designated spots for tents can be a fun family activity, I would really miss more "wild" activities.

However, I'm not sure that in Canada you can just walk some 20 km to a lake in a forest, cut down some firewood and fish up you dinner without breaking any laws (and I wouldn't want to break any - I understand that conservation is important and wouldn't want to hurt nature).

So, what (legal) options are available in Canada for some camping trips that don't involve designated camping spots (or involve them in some manner that doesn't make it a "like in a hotel, only in tent" type of thing).

To clarify, I will first try to settle in Ottawa (Ontario), though if that doesn't work out my next target is Calgary (Alberta). Russia is big too, I'm not averse to traveling up to 24 hours to a "base of operations" before going on the actual trip, at least on vacation. On long weekend the road probably shouldn't take more than 4 hours. That makes any province open game, I believe.


In Ontario, the relevant terminology is "Crown Land". This is land that is not owned by any private entity, and is essentially free for use, however there are some rules. Most of the province is crown land, and from Ottawa you can access it quite readily.

With regards to fishing, fishing in any body of water (Except privately owned/stocked facilities) requires a fishing license. These are very cheap (under $20 a year for a "conservation" license) and include rules about what species can be harvested and in what quantities. The province is broken into regions and the rules may vary between regions. All of this information is easily available from whereever you obtain your license. You can do so online, but might prefer to hit a local fishing shop in Ottawa or the region you will be fishing in to chat and get some local knowledge.

For camping, I believe you can camp anywhere on crown land, but there may be set-back requirements from roads. I am not sure about cutting of trees to build a shelter, I believe any structure must be temporary in nature, a simple wood cabin may be still be considered permanent. However, realistically any action of enforcement is going to be complaint based. If your activities aren't extreme and aren't bothering anyone, you could easily get away with building a simple structure.

You can find full details for Ontario crown land usage on the Ontario Government website.




  • Maybe worth mentioning provincial parks as well, since camping and such are pretty inexpensive there. And I'd throw in Gatineau too. – Kate Gregory Sep 6 '18 at 23:16

It really depends on which province you are moving to and how far you are willing to go from urban centers.

First off, stay away from any private property. While my activities can sometimes bring me to cross some private land, I am only passing through on foot and there will be no trace of my presence. Using motor vehicles, cutting wood, gathering edibles is never a good idea.

On public land, there are different options. My experience is in the province of Quebec where in all provincial parks, the activities you describe are prohibited. In faunal reserves, where the main goal is hunting and fishing, outside of hunting season, pretty much everything can be done as long as you are not spending the night. There is usually logging activities anyway so conservation isn't a big concern. Logging patches are great spots to gather berries.

Then there is public land without specific statutes. Those are pretty much open game. Unless you are going across the 4000sq. meters of someone's lease, it's open to the public, but from what I understand, it has to be a temporary use.

Public land that's not a park or reserve of some sort is not easy to find close to large urban centers. For example, in Quebec, there is almost none south of St-Laurent river. North, it's usually 2h away, or more. Last weekend, I drove 1300km north close to the 52nd parallel and the destination was still a nature reserve with strict regulations.

My best advice is to look for legislation specific to the province you are moving to and stay away from private land.

Here's a map of public land VS private land in Quebec. You'll notice it's all very heterogenous. Light blue is public, beige is private.

There is also the question of aboriginal rights. First Nations have rights that supersede other citizen's. This might make things more complicated in some areas.

  • I've added info on province to the question. So, tldr - unless someone owns the place or unless it's a reserve of some kind, everything is fine? – Misamoto Sep 6 '18 at 15:54
  • I would say everything is fine in practice. But I don't know enough about other provinces to have a definitive answer for them. – Gabriel C. Sep 6 '18 at 16:13

There are many activities one can do on Crown Land in Canada. The price of permits and particular rules will change from province to province.

For example in British Columbia one may participate in the following activities:

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