Bare Beach in Ontario Disputed
Pearce Park disrobed
Naked sunbathers using local beach
Jeff Kempenaar – The Chronicle
June 8, 2006
ONTARIO, CANADA -- People are getting naked in John E. Pearce Provincial Park despite nudity not being allowed.
Unknown to people who maintain it the park south of Wallacetown has been used by nudists for possibly a decade, said a naturist organization spokesperson, but nudity in a public park is against the law.
“It’s not a clothing optional beach,” said Keith Early, the park’s superintendent with Ontario Parks.
He was not aware the park was being promoted for naked sunbathing on a Federation of Canadian Naturists web site where the beach was listed as clothing-optional.
While the park superintendent said it’s not allowed, Stéphane Duschênes, President of the Federation of Canadian Naturists said no one ever gets charged for being nude in public in Canada but rather people get charged for trespassing.
Court challenges listed on the federation’s web site explain court cases where charges were dropped after the nudist was found not being indecent or obscene.
“No one has just walked out on a beach, slipped out of their clothes and demanded the right to be naked,” said Duschênes.
Duschênes said about 2.7 million Canadians said they would or have gone to a nude beach in a 1999 survey.
Last Wednesday afternoon, The Chronicle found a couple using the small Pearce Park beach. The man was naked.
“Why would you wear a bathing suit?” asked Stéphane Duschênes President of the Federation of Canadian Naturists. “Does it keep you dry? Does it keep you warm? It’s no kind of protection from sand. I can look at anyone and know what they look like under their clothes.”
The secluded beach became listed once at least three people recommended it through the FCN.
Direction on the FCN web site instruct visitors to, “go down the cliff and walk northeast for about 0.8 kilometres. Sunbathers can use the patches of sand and pebbles to lie on.”
The site lists the beach as being located at John E. Pearce Provincial Park and last Wednesday a naked sunbather was found on the beach below the bluffs in the park.
However, directions actually lead to a beach owned by the Littlejohn family who have a farm adjacent to the park.
“I was surprised to hear about the listing,” said Littlejohn, who heard about it four years ago.
Don Littlejohn said it is difficult to get down to the water front, but the area where nude sunbathers set up camp is hidden between bluffs.
He said he hasn’t had a problem with anyone accessing the private beach.
“If I want to walk down my beach, I’m going to walk down my beach. If it makes them uncomfortable, they can leave,” he said, adding he has never asked nudist to leave but he said any day of the week they are there.
Littlejohn thinks nudists have been using the beach for at least the last four years without asking.
“We’re not proud that the beach is promoted this way but it hasn’t been a problem,” he said.
Littlejohn said he hopes the beach doesn’t become a hot spot for nakedness.
“It’s not a lifestyle I choose to live,” he said.
“That’s news to me,” said Leta West of the Tyrconnell Heritage Society that maintains the park.
“I’ll have to get to the bare facts on this,” said West who was going to contact Ontario Parks to look into the matter.
“It’s on of those things along the beaches in Canada I guess,” said West.
Duschênes hopes the disrobing of John E. Pearce Park doesn’t result in people visiting the beach to get angry.
“People will make a point of going to see naked people and complain loudly,” he said. “It’s a remote beach that has probably been used for at least a decade.”
Irrational societal brainwashing leads people to judge others for being naked in public, said Duschênes and the federation works to promote self respect and respect for nature.
“Psychological studies have found people free of the pressure of body shape are more confident persons,” said Duschênes.
There are a handful of official nude beaches in Canada, the biggest in Vancouver where on a hot day, 15,000 people could be reveling in the nude.
There are two naturist clubs in the area, the Forest City Family Naturists and SunnyGlades Park in Bothwell.