It has started to snow, we are well into fall and winter is just around the corner. The loons have changed plumage and are preparing for their long distance flight down south. All of our locations are now shut down for the winter and just a few hardy souls are here helping me with a few last minute projects and buttoning up things for the winter.
It was great to finally get back to normal this year! With no restrictions at the border anymore things are finally back where they were before the pandemic. That meant a lot of familiar faces returning to the lodge and a full staff once again! This year we had a great crew with many returning staff and some new ones too. Vera, Carley, Rowan, Jamie and our cook from 2018 Stephanie all returned along with a bunch of newbies that quickly fit in to life in the bush!
The ice went out right on schedule this year. We had all come in prior to ice out at Camp Lochalsh, where we store all the boats for the winter. The first thing we have to do is get varnishing boats. Every year we varnish the insides and outsides of our 18′ cedar strips. Any repairs that need to be made are also done during this time. We have roughly 30 boats in our fleet, so it’s quite time consuming and for new staff, sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. The temperature and humidity have to be a certain point before we get started and as many of you know, early May can be touch and go with weather up here! Even though it’s a lot of work, we still found time to horse around and have a little fun.
Opening week went well, however the fishing was a bit slow until the following week, which easily made up for it! We always had plenty of fish for our daily shore lunches. Our Tee Pee Island shore lunch site is just fantastic for hosting spring lunches up to 30 people at a time. We take great pride on doing shore lunches the old fashioned way, hauling everything from camp up the lake everyday and cooking over an open fire from scratch.
Fishing was great last summer, with many really nice Walleye being caught and released. There were always plenty of eaters around, but the fire ban created a problem for shore lunch some of the summer. We were forced to cook over propane for June and some of July. It went well, but there is a learning curve involved when you are used to cooking over an open fire!
In the spring we made our yearly pilgrimage to Powasson Ontario where our 18′ cedar strip boats are made. B Giesler and Sons have been building hand made cedar strip boats since the 1920’s and they are still in business today, making boats the same way they did 100 years ago! This year we purchased three new boats from them and have three more on order for 2024. It’s always a good time visiting Gerry Giesler and his crew and watching them do their thing in the shop. Truly skilled wood workers at their finest.
Over the course of the summer, besides running the day to day tasks, we spent a lot of time on new projects. From rebuilding docks to construction of a brand new dining room on Loch Island, we kept our crew busy with building and painting all summer long.
The new dining room on Loch Island took much of our time from Mid September through October. Demolition of the old smaller dining room started September 13th. It took a few days to get the old one down and removed from the island. From there, we started from the ground up and didn’t finish until late October. The new dining room is much larger and has spectacular views of the lake. It also has a new 12 X 32 foot deck which connects to our already enormous deck on the lodge! It allows for plenty of room to eat outside, enjoy a cocktail while looking over the lake or indulging in one of our famous wine and cheese parties!
During the summer, we had a wide variety of visitors, and not the human kind! Early on a pair of oddly friendly beavers made their presence known on Loch Island. These two fellas were not afraid of people at all and did a fine job of keeping the grass down by the docks. It was not uncommon at all to see them chewing just a few feet from guests with no fear. Unusual for sure. We also had a family of mink on the island which is not uncommon, but “minky” our resident mink had a lot of hungry little ones to feed this spring. She could be seen all around the docks catching crayfish to feed her babies. Adorable for sure! Some rare black ducks made their home for a month or so in the fall. We’re not sure where they flew in from, but they obviously were not afraid of humans at all. I’m not sure why these animals feel so at home on Loch Island, but they are not alone!
We have a new addition to our family! In July Lily joined us and what a delight she has turned out to be! A canoe lab, Lily will only get to be about 40 lbs, we think! She quickly became loved by both guests and staff!
What a great summer it was! We are already planning for 2024. Our sport show lineup will be posted next month, but we are already booked for a few of our “regular” sport shows in Ohio and Michigan. If you haven’t booked for 2024 yet, make sure you do soon. We are filling quickly!
— Thank you all for a great 2023! We’ll see everyone next summer, and hope to see some of you at the sport shows!
Andy & Amy (and Lily the lab)