Kingfisher Outdoor Education Centre

Kingfisher CabinLakehead Public Schools owns and operates Kingfisher Lake Outdoor Education Centre, a unique facility offering curriculum linked experiential education. It provides a multitude of year-round opportunities to instill an awareness and appreciation for nature and the environment while enhancing classroom learning. Daytrips and residential excursions offer enriched learning that complements the Ontario Curriculum for all grade levels in Science, Biology, Geography, Art, and Literacy as well as Health and Physical Education.

Nestled in the boreal forest 20 km north of Thunder Bay, the Kingfisher site has a wealth of natural resources, including beautiful Kingfisher Lake, Airplane Lake and a classic example of a black spruce bog, all within close proximity to the centre. Hiking and ski trails wind through wetland areas, poplar and birch highlands, and rocky outcrops, giving the visitor a well-rounded boreal forest experience.

For information about our Centre, or to plan a class trip, see below, email, call (807) 345-6471 or fax (807) 345-7014.



Google MapKingfisher Lake Outdoor Education Centre is located just 30 minutes from Thunder Bay on Hwy 527 (Spruce River Road).

  • Travel East on Highway 11/17 to Highway 527.
  • Travel North on Highway 527 for 20 km.
  • Watch for a big sign on the right side of the road that says “OUTDOOR SCHOOL, NO HUNTING”.
  • Just past the sign, our driveway is on the right at the top of a hill with a sign that says “KINGFISHER LAKE”.

Kingfisher Lake Site MapBACK TO TOP


Inside Kingfisher Lodge

Inside Kingfisher Lodge

The Kingfisher site includes a collection of classrooms and meeting areas, a kitchen building, sleeping cabins, and a washroom facility. There is a gravel driveway of approximately 500 m that leads to the facility. There is no road access to the sleeping cabins. Students and weekend users must carry their belongings a short distance to these cabins.

The camp is designed to accommodate school children attending day trips and residential programs. Consequently, the buildings and furnishings are rustic and simple. All buildings are electrically heated and have electrical outlets. The cabins have simple desk lights; other buildings have full lighting. The washroom building and kitchen/science building are the only buildings with running water.

The Main Camp Area
The Main Camp area of Kingfisher can accommodate one class (approximately 30 students) in the residential program. There are eight cabins; each with three bunk beds to sleep six people. The beds have mattresses but bedding is not provided. The cabins are not equipped with running water or washroom facilities. The washroom facilities are located in a nearby building and include boys and girls washroom facilities. The Main Camp also has a classroom, a small kitchen building and fire shelter.

The Day Centre
The Day Centre is generally used by school groups for day programs and by residential groups for evening activities. It is a large log cabin equipped with benches and two long lunch tables. It can comfortably accommodate up to forty people. The seating is rustic so if weekend groups include mostly adults who would prefer comfort or if long meetings are planned, it would be a good idea to bring lawn chairs or other appropriate seating.

Kitchen/Science Building
The kitchen/science building is a portable classroom with two fridges, two stoves and four sinks. There are tables and chairs to accommodate thirty; forty would be possible but it is definitely a tight fit. School groups use this building for science only, as students cook at the fireplaces in front of the cabins. Most weekend groups use this building exclusively as a kitchen facility.

The washroom building includes a boy’s washroom with two toilets and two urinals and a girl’s washroom with four toilets. Both washrooms have sinks and they each have one cubicle that has wheelchair accessibility. The custodial room attached to the washrooms has one shower stall, for adult use only, that supervisors and weekend users are welcome to use.

Kingfisher Lake is about two km long by 500m wide, with a number of islands and bays. The gently sloping shoreline provides an excellent place for our students to participate in pond studies and canoeing activities. We do not have a swimming area and are not set up with appropriate safety systems for group swimming.



School Bookings

Booking request forms are distributed to school principals in April to facilitate schedule planning for the next school year. Minimum days are allotted to each school based on student population and numbers of classes, in keeping with the practice that each student should have an opportunity to visit at least once for a day trip and once for an overnight visit during elementary school. Beyond these minimum allotted days, extra bookings from any teacher are welcome. These requests are slotted into calendars during the last week of June and the booking confirmation notices are sent out in the first week of the new school year.

To request a booking in the current school year, please contact us at (807) 345-6471. Although the calendar is often full, we do keep a waiting list and occasionally have cancellations.

To request a booking for next year, please approach your principal in late April to add your class to the request list. Please note that although there are a certain number of allotted days for each school, extra bookings are always welcome and generally granted if requested at the same time as the regular school requests.




Children examining items in their nets.

Children examining items in their nets.

We offer distinct programs for all grade levels. During the spring and fall, programs are available for students in all grade levels. Our winter programs are designed for students in grades four to twelve. Day trips are available for students in grades one to twelve. Three day residential programs are offered for students in grades five to eight and two day residential programs are offered for students in grades nine to twelve.

Our curriculum is designed to integrate and complement the Ontario Curriculum. Activities are chosen by the classroom teacher in discussion with Kingfisher staff. In the program summary tables below, the grade levels indicate the strongest links with the Ontario Curriculum. In some cases, programs may be adapted to suit the curricula of other grades. We make every effort to offer different programs for each grade level, to ensure that returning students are not repeating activities from previous visits.

Specialized programs may be developed in collaboration with the classroom teacher and Kingfisher staff.


Elementary Programs

Fall and spring programs are available from September until December and from late April until the end of June. Winter programs are available from January until early April. As each season has highly variable weather conditions, programs may not be available through the entire season, or may need to be altered to accommodate the conditions of the day.

Interpretive Hike

  • Grades 1-12
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students travel through the boreal forest learning themes including plant and animal adaptations, seasonal changes, diversity of living things, tree and plant identification and aboriginal peoples. The topics of the hike will vary according to the grade and curriculum of the students. In the winter, interpretive hikes generally take place on snowshoes.

Animal Games

  • Grades 1-2
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students participate in a variety of mimicry and guessing games which highlight the physical and behavioural characteristics and adaptations of animals.

Grade 2 Skull Study

  • Grade 2
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students examine a variety of skull replicas from animals of the boreal forest. They draw a sketch of a skull and record information about the size of the skull and the types of teeth the animal has. Using this information, the student will determine whether the animal is a herbivore, carnivore or omnivore.

Camp Map Game

  • Grades 2-4
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students are taught basic map reading skills, including how to orient a map and use a legend. They then use their map to move around the Main Camp area, searching for fifteen stations which have clues to solve a word puzzle written on their map.

Grade Three Tree Key

  • Grade 3
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students are introduced to a simple dichotomous tree key and shown the different characteristics of twigs and/or leaves. The students visit six different trees and use the key to identify the species,

Pond Study

  • Grades 1, 2, 4, 6
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students collect and examine samples of aquatic life from our pond or Kingfisher Lake. With grade six students, the samples are taken to our science lab, where students sketch the organisms and make notes about their physical characteristics. Students use a simple dichotomous key to determine the organism’s scientific Class. Small aquatic creatures are examined with microscopes and sketches are used to help identify the organism’s common name.

Oh Deer!

  • Grade 4
  • Fall, Winter and Spring
  • Students play the roles of habitat (food, water and shelter) and deer to gain an understanding of how animal populations are related to their environment. A bar graph is generated to show changing populations over time.

Bird Study

  • Grades 4-8
  • Fall and Winter
  • Students are introduced to a simple dichotomous key, designed to identify the birds around Kingfisher. They observe the birds and make note about their physical and behavioural characteristics, and use the bird key to determine the birds’ identities.

Grade Five Skeleton Study

  • Grade 5
  • Fall, Winter and Spring
  • Students examine replica skeletons of a variety of different animals and compare anatomical differences and similarities. Students are encouraged to think about different adaptations animals have, and how these adaptations might help the animal survive. Students also compare and contrast the animal skeletons with a replica of a human skeleton.

Visual Arts – Look, See, Paint

  • Grades 5 and 7
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students are introduced to various visual arts concepts, including complementary colours, movement, texture, and rhythm. Using basic watercolour techniques and observation skills, students work independently on a landscape painting in a natural setting. A short written piece or poetry may also be created, to correspond with the writing curriculum.


  • Grades 6-8
  • Fall, Winter and Spring
  • Students are taught how to use a compass and how to estimate distance using pacing. They complete an outdoor compass course called the Maze, in which they find fifteen stations in the forest using their compasses and maps.


  • Residential Program Only
  • Grades 6-8
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students must complete a classroom lesson and pool session on canoe safety prior to canoeing at Kingfisher. On – water sessions are taught by qualified canoeing instructors. The canoeing program also introduces students to the importance of canoeing in Canadian history.


  • Grade 6
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students are introduced to the concepts of flight and build individual elastic –powered model airplanes. The students fly their airplanes and apply various techniques to help improve the flight of their airplanes.

Cooperative Activities

  • Grades 6-8
  • Fall, Winter and Spring
  • Students participate in a number of different challenges or problem – solving activities. After the activity, instructors facilitate a discussion (debrief) about how they worked on the problem, communication, leadership, listening skills, respecting all voices, and many other aspects of group interaction.

Microscope Lab

  • Grades 6-8
  • Fall, Winter and Spring
  • Students are introduced to basic microscope skills. They complete four different labs, observing, sketching, and answering question on plant and animal cells and small aquatic creatures. This lab manual is easily used as an evaluative tool for part of their science lab.

Survival Game

  • Grades 6-8
  • Fall, Winter and Spring
  • In this large group activity, students take on the role of an animal in the boreal forest. Students collect food and water items to keep their animal alive, and find hiding spots (shelter) to protect them from predators. The game introduction and debrief sessions, led by Kingfisher staff, examine predator-prey relationships, food chains and webs, and the interdependence of living and non-living things within an environment.

Snowshoe Interpretive Hike

  • Grades 4-8
  • Winter
  • Similar to interpretive hikes mentioned above, but on snowshoes. There is an interpretive emphasis on winter and snow ecology as well as plant and animal adaptations to winter.

Cross-country Skiing

  • Grades 4-8
  • Winter
  • Students obtain equipment and wax their own skis. They participate in a ski lesson and ski around our various ski trails in small groups with other students of similar experience. Generally, this activity requires a full day due to the equipment/waxing requirements.


Secondary Programs

Fall programs are available from September until December and spring programs are available from late April until the end of June. Winter programs are available from January until early April. As the seasons have highly variable weather conditions, programs may not be available through the entire season or may need to be altered to accommodate the conditions of the day.


  • Grades 9-12 Phys. Ed.
  • Fall, Winter and Spring
  • Students learn how to use a compass, take a bearing and read a bearing from a map. They complete a fifteen station course in a large forested area. They may also complete an activity called “The Overlander” in which students travel over a kilometer through the forest following a single bearing.

GPS and Orienteering

  • Grade 9 Geography
  • Fall and Spring
  • In this full day program, students spend half of the day learning how to use a compass and how to read bearings from a map. They complete a fifteen station orienteering course. For the other half of the day, students are introduced to GPS technology and practice marking and following landmarks, as well as participating in several large group activities using these skills to navigate through the forest.


  • Grade 10 Science
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students will go for an interpretive hike to learn ecology terms and concepts as they relate to the boreal forest. Concepts such as primary and secondary succession, biotic and abiotic factors affecting succession and ecotones will be covered. This information is recorded an assignment that includes definitions, explanations of concepts and sketches, and interpretations of various sites on the Kingfisher trails.


  • Grade 11-12 Biology
  • Fall and Spring
  • On the morning interpretive hike, students learn about ecological concepts as they relate to the boreal forest and are introduced to the identification of numerous boreal plant species and their adaptations. In their assignment, students will complete diagrams of various areas undergoing primary and secondary succession and answer questions related to the importance of plant species to humans. In the afternoon, students will participate in a plant scavenger hunt to reinforce plant knowledge and identification.

Aquatic Ecology

  • Grade 11C or 12U Biology
  • Fall and Spring
  • Students follow sampling procedures to collect aquatic insects from a number of different lake shore sites. Samples are taken to the classroom where students identify the different organisms and tally their samples. Comparisons can be made between the habitat (vegetation, bottom material, etc) and the diversity and numbers of organisms found at each location.


  • Grade 9-12 Phys Ed
  • Fall and Spring
  • After completing a classroom information session and a pool safety session, students canoe with Kingfisher instructors in small groups, learning different paddling strokes and discussing group paddling safety and techniques. In some circumstances the group may also participate in a canoe orienteering activity.

Cross-country Skiing

  • Grade 9-12 Phys Ed
  • Winter
  • Students obtain equipment and wax their own skis. They participate in a ski lesson and ski around our various ski trails in small groups with other students of similar experience. Generally, this activity requires a full day due to the equipment/waxing requirements.



Planning a Trip to KingfisherTrip Planning

Day Trip

  • Transportation
    • Costs and booking arrangements for transportation are the responsibility of the school.
    • North ward to Kingfisher: 30 minutes approx.
    • South ward to Kingfisher: 40 minutes approx.
  • Groups
    • Please divide your class into groups as requested by Kingfisher staff. Please have nametags for students if requested (SK –Gr.4)
  • Clothing
    • Spring – All students should wear long sleeved light coloured shirts, long light coloured pants, closed toed shoes or rubber boots and a sunhat or ball cap. Light colours are less attractive to insects. Parents are requested to apply sun screen and bug repellent at home. Students should bring a day pack for their own belongings.
    • Fall – All fall trips require adequate warm clothing, in layers that can be removed as the day warms up. Rain coats and boots are great if the weather looks wet. Students should bring a day pack for their own belongings.
    • Winter – All winter trips require adequate warm clothing (winter jackets and snow pants, winter boots, toques, mitts and neck warmers) in layers that can be removed as the day warms up. Students should bring a day pack for their own belongings.
  • Snack and Lunch
    • If you are having a cook-out, please have your wieners thawed, and the buns sliced. Don’t forget your condiments. A knife to cut open packages is useful. If you are bringing cans of juice crystals or hot chocolate make sure you have a can opener. We supply the hot or cold water in an urn and the sticks to roast the wieners. The students should bring a nondisposable plastic cup with a handle. Nutritious snacks are encouraged; something small that will fit in a pocket.
    • If you are having a bag lunch, encourage a healthy complete lunch, with juice and/or water to drink.
    • Please note that there is NOT a microwave or hot water available for a bag lunch.
  • Parent volunteers
    • A desirable number of parent supervisors is 2 – 4 parents per class.
    • Parents may expect to be an integral part of the Kingfisher visit, assisting with lunch and washroom supervision.

Residential Trip Planning Information for Teachers

  • Supervisors
    • One teacher plus two other adult supervisors or a 1:10 ratio of adults to students is required.
    • Gender representation is recommended.
    • It can be very helpful to have supervisors designated to specific cabins and with grade 5 and grade 6 groups, and it may be appropriate to have an adult supervisor stay in each cabin.
    • First Aid
      • You or one of your volunteers must have valid first aid.
    • Emergency Vehicle
      • A reliable vehicle with $1,000,000 liability insurance must be on site at all times.
      • This vehicle can arrive at 4 p.m. and leave at 9 a.m. if owner is not able to stay throughout the day.
    • Bus
      • It is the school’s responsibility to book and pay for the bus.
      • If possible, a truck or van is quite handy. The vehicle carries coolers, thus reducing the load in the bus and the burden on the students. The van or truck can drive right in to the centre.
      • Please have students carry their personal items in from the bus.
    • Fire Starters
      • Please make these in class – enough for 8-10 per cabin group.
    • Cabins
      • There are 8 cabins for your class to use.
      • Cabin 2 has 8 beds: all the others have 6 beds.
      • There is also a small Teachers’ Cabin with 2 beds (one bunkbed) for adult use.
    • Menus
      • Think simple, healthy and easy to prepare.
      • The Canada Food Guide can be a big help and creates excellent curriculum links, especially for grade 5 classes.
      • Day 1 lunch is a bag lunch and Day 3 lunch should be a group hotdog lunch. You may want to bring a group drink for this lunch.
    • Shower
      • There is a shower on site for adult use only.
    • Borrowing Materials
      • Packs should be reserved ahead of time from the IMC.
    • Evening Activities
      • Desert Survival Activity;
      • Owl pellet dissection;
      • Sub-arctic survival Activity.
      • A television and DVD Player are available if you wish to bring a movie



Phone:  (807) 345-6471
Our office number is 345-6471. We are in the office from 9 – 9:30 a.m., around lunchtime and 4 p.m. Messages are checked daily and returned promptly.
There are phones in the Teachers’ Cabin and the Day Centre, the number is 683-3152 but since we are almost always outside, it is rare that these phones are answered. 


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