Review of Freedom Fields Naturist Ranch in Ontario, Canada by KFFBS
The launch of a new naturist venue is a rare and exciting event. Eastern Ontario’s newest clothing-optional park, Freedom Fields Naturist Ranch, was greeted with cautious optimism when it opened in 2012. Four years later, the ranch is finding its stride, and – after a few great visits – we felt the need to tell all of you about it.
Naturist Ranch Location
Freedom Fields is near Tamworth, a small town in eastern Ontario about an hour’s drive from Kingston or Belleville. This is farm country; the surroundings are a mix of cash crops, ranches and hobby farms with a lot of forest in between.
The park is accessed from 592 Carroll Road, but don’t put too much faith in auto-navigation; this part of Ontario is poorly charted in many map databases. If you’re navigating by GPS, enter the co-ordinates directly: 44.501N by 76.917W. If you prefer to navigate the old-fashioned way, find your way up CR 4 to Tamworth, then head east along Mountain Road and south on Carroll.
The cost, as of August 2015, is $30/person or $40/couple per day. Overnight camping is an extra $20. A classic farmhouse bed-and-breakfast is also on offer, for those with more luxurious tastes.
Naturist Club Culture at Freedom Fields
The core rule at Freedom Fields is “Your behaviour is your passport,” and anyone who can live by that is welcome. This is a friendly, inclusive environment. Do you have piercings? Tattoos? A non-binary gender or sexual orientation? A non-monogamous or polyamorous relationship? Are you a male without a female partner? None of that really matters here.
The park’s visitors come from all walks of life. The majority are middle-class, middle-age, but there are often a few folks in their 20’s and one or two in their 80’s. Of course, we’ve also encountered a few who want to visit but can’t (a couple of bored constables on marijuana patrol, evidently getting very jealous from inside their sweltering helicopter) and a few who didn’t realize what they were in for (a carload of conservative evangelists, who set a new speed record for reversing out of the driveway)!
Compared to more traditional parks, there’s a lot more energy, a lot more vibrance, to the culture. People tend to be friendlier and more outgoing than we’re used to seeing at other parks. The large saltwater hot tub is usually full of smiles and laughter. On summer holiday evenings, live cover bands rock out in the barn, which is fully decked out for drinks and dancing. At the last concert we attended, the music skewed heavily towards the ’60s and ’70s – probably a reflection of the late-middle-age demographic that formed the bulk of the crowd. Their “oldies” status notwithstanding, these songs have aged well and create just as great a party vibe now as they probably did back then.
For those who like their peace and quiet, most of the 100 acres are still a mix of untouched forest and fallow field. Rustic campsites are carved out of the bush in strategic locations, and there are a few places to park an RV for a weekend. There aren’t many long-term trailer sites yet. Most visitors either come for the day, camp out, or get a room at the B&B. (It’s quite possible to get a long-term membership and a permanent site, although you may have to do some brush clearing in the process.)
The park hasn’t had time to develop closed social cliques yet, and we got the distinct impression that the head honcho – Yvonne, a spry and energetic woman with a zest for life and a legendary sense of humour – intends to keep it that way.
For the last few seasons, Freedom Fields has been an adults-only venue. I’ll admit, as a parent I find this policy pretty frustrating.
However, Freedom Fields is a working ranch on a lot of unimproved land. There are horses, there’s the usual assortment of farm machinery, and there are a couple of energetic free-range dogs. An insurance underwriter, schooled in Canadian tort law, would rightly conclude that declaring such a place to be family-friendly would be a significant extra risk, and would set the insurance premiums accordingly.
Culturally, too, family-friendly naturist parks – of which there are several in Ontario – are a different kind of environment than what Freedom Fields tries to create. Adults, particularly those of empty-nester age, tend to be a little more relaxed, free-wheeling and lighthearted in a kid-free venue. The barn bar and the swim-up bar, around which the Freedom Fields social scene often coalesces, would be unheard of in a family-oriented park.
Being 18-plus doesn’t mean that Freedom Fields is a sex club – it’s not. (We do have those in Ontario, and they explicitly market themselves as such.) It’s just that making the place family-friendly is not something the management is interested in doing right now.
We’ve met people who routinely make the five- or six-hour drive from Southwestern Ontario to come to Freedom Fields for a weekend. That certainly says something about the park’s appeal.
If you’re anywhere between Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Rochester, Freedom Fields is almost certainly a must-see venue, particularly if you can make it for one of the summer festival weekends when the chip truck is open, the bars are stocked and the band is rocking out late into the night.
Learn more about Freedom Fields on their website at www.freedomfieldsnaturistranch.com.