The Map-Maker

Hurontario alumnus John Hartman’s Georgian Bay, written by another Hurontario alumnus, David MacFarlane.
(The Walrus, Sept. 1, 2014)

Greetings from Texas…

My mother was Leone (Suydam) Upton, only daughter of James and Winifred Suydam. The Suydams owned the east side of Portage Island (Cognashene area) from the 1930s to 1970s. Their only daughter married my Dad, in 1937, and we resided in New Orleans Louisiana.

My grandparents introduced me to Camp Hurontario in 1957; I loved it and, at my request, I returned the summer of 1959. Loved the 10-day canoe trips both times. The 1957 trip included a stopover at my grandparents place on Portage Island, for hamburgers, hotdogs, and cookies, and then on to the mouth of the Musquash River.

In 2002, my wife bought me a 17-foot aluminum canoe for Christmas. She and my now 44-year-old son have been fishing in it; my grandchildren will ride in it next summer. Have rented many cottages over the years near Pointe Au Baril & the Lighthouse, but the pandemic has left us bored in Dallas. I am equally proud of my Canadian heritage; my grandfather, James C. Suydam, was a Canadian Army officer in WW1, then built a successful construction company. Suydam Public Park, in the 400 – 500 block of Spadina Road was built & donated to the City of Toronto by my grandfather.

Since I haven’t been to “The Bay” since 2017, I thank every friend in Cognashene & elsewhere for sending photos; our last “Bay Trip” was to a rented cottage near the old Ojibway Hotel near the Pointe Au Baril Lighthouse. My goal is to see the campgrounds one more time with my family.

Warmest regards,

“Butch” Upton

The Door You Came In

Douglas Cameron and David Macfarlane did a show, The Door You Came In, at Hugh’s Room in Toronto (2261 Dundas W; just south of Bloor) on March 20, 2019. It’s based on David’s book, The Danger Tree.

In Memorium

Phil Muntz was a Hurontario alumnus and has several islands and a Hurontario canoeing trophy named after him. He was one of the first counselors at Hurontario and greatly admired by camp founder, Birnie Hodgetts.

Eric Phillip Muntz obituary

Dave Evans’ wedding

Dave Evans' Wedding
Hurontario congratulates alumnus Dave Evans on his recent wedding!

For the price of a piano (and some lessons)

Hurontario 1946

Here is a great story about how Hurontario’s founder Birnie Hodgetts, my dad, acquired Hurontario’s main camp island, 150 acres of mainland way back in 1946 and started to build his dream of an outdoors camp for boys!!

My dad, Birnie Hodgetts was apparently an avid fisherman and on a fishing trip in 1946 with his brother Ted, they paddled up the shore of Georgian Bay from their family cottage at Wau Wau Tasi. On a stormy night as the west wind was blowing, they came around into a bay which seemed sheltered from the storm and pitched their tent for the night.

The following day, Birnie and Ted went for a hike and soon discovered that they had indeed landed on a huge and very beautiful island which was totally uninhabited (as was the whole area at this time). Birnie, as the story goes, turned to Ted and said, “this is where I will have my camp.” And so Birnie started to investigate who owned the island. But being a visionary, Birnie also realized that the property which surrounded the island was key to future plans and needed to be part of his purchase in order to prevent cottages which he foresaw – although there were none at this time – from being on the shores across from his (future) camp.

Remember, there were no computers, no faxes, no scans for sending for information about these properties! So through a series of letters, Birnie found that the island was owned by an American lady who was happy to sell to Birnie. The 175 acres across from the island was not so easy.

The 175 acres were owned by a Mr. Kingsmill, a former army man who had fought in the terrible Boer War and for which Queen Victoria had given soldiers of this war “land in the colonies.” Mr. Kingsmill owned the land across from camp and Birnie wrote to Mr. Kingsmill asking if he could purchase this land.

Mr. Kingsmill in a return series of letters offered to send his brother, an Anglican Minister to run the camp with Birnie, but Birnie wanted the camp to be for all, with no religious connotations. In yet another letter, Mr. Kingsmill said he was tired of wet weather in England and he would come and partner with Birnie. Again, Birnie replied he had a vision of camp and wanted to be on his own to build this dream. And then all communication stopped and Dad assumed that his dream was not going to come to fruition.

Well, about a year later, Birnie received a letter from Mr. Kingsmill from Mexico! He had moved there to escape those wet winters in England. And he had fallen in love with a Mexican girl named Carmelita and wanted to marry her. She would agree but only if she could have an English piano and lessons as this was her dream. And that was what the letter said, nothing more.

Birnie being a clever man, saw his opportunity and wrote back letting Mr. Kingsmill know that he would pay to have a piano shipped from England and along with that some money for lessons. And Mr. Kingsmill agreed!

And so for the price of a piano, some piano lessons, Birnie Hodgetts in 1946, purchased our main camp island and the 175 acres which wrap around the camp protecting us from the urbanization he foresaw and providing Hurontario camper’s with the wonderful opportunity to escape the city and come to a truly woodsy, unplugged environment for the summer.

The History of “Lightning”

Lightning on display

“Lightning” is a 9 ft. Yellow Jacket built by Christie Armstrong and Michael Cochrane, shop instructors, at Camp Hurontario in 1952-1953. Originally powered by a 1953 Johnson 10 hp, she ran between the main camp and Phil Jo, an island just south for CITs and counselors.

In 1958 she was purchased by Steve Wace, and powered by a Mercury Mark 10. She tore about Lake Joseph, Muskoka, where she was able to attain speeds of approximately 32 mph!

Steve’s father, sick of the noise, insisted he sell “Lightning” in 1959, which he did. The new owner was Mr. David Barber of Wegamind Island, Lake Joseph who bought “Lightning” for his sons John and David (aged 8 and 6 at the time).

Twenty-five years later, Steve approached the Barbers to see if they would be willing to sell “Lightning” back to him for his son, Ross (then aged 8). After consulting with John and David, they agreed that it would be nice to see it back with Steve and his son.

Lightning now

Following a major restoration, and powered by a new Mercury 10 hp, Ross spent many hours racing through the waters of Little Lake Joseph and Lake Joseph.

The latest restoration, started in 2005, included a new deck, paint, varnish, graphics and saw the addition of a 1952 Mercury Super Hurricane KG-7 for power. This engine while listed as 10 hp, really puts out more like 16 — 18 hp and with its 7 3/4″ x 11″ bronze prop can reach speeds up to 48 mph!

Ross plans to pass “Lightning” on to his son Davis (now aged 4!) in due course!

“Lightning” has become part of the Wace Family providing hours of enjoyment both on the water and in its care and maintenance.