We Went Wilderness Camping In Burks Falls
Up in Northern Ontario you don't have to travel far from town to get out into the wilderness with chances to commune with Moose, Bears, Cougars, and Timber Wolves and Deer. Plus the other critters like Snakes, Frogs, Porcupines, Raccoons, Squirrels, Chipmunks, Skunks, and best of all....Great Birds like Eagles and Hawks, plus Cranes and Ducks and Geese, and cute Otters.
Burks Falls is approximately a 3.5 hour drive by Hwy(11) from Toronto. It is deep into the Canadian Shield. Where rock spires dominate the landscape and our Forests are so thick they can block out sunlight. It is affectionately named the land of Muskoka and Amaguin.
Burks Falls is where my Father's family is from. My Grandfather Ernest Lundy left Burks Falls to seek work in the big city of Toronto in the 30's. It is there he met his wife Beatrice Lillian Ross. They soon married, and Nanny Lil became pregnant with Dad. My Grandpa Ernest went off to the war, and I don't even think he ever saw my Dad as a baby. I believe that when my Dad was around 18months old Grandpa Ernest was MIA over the coast of France when his bomber was shot down. Over 5 years went along before he was pronounced dead as a victim of war. So every time I see the transport trucks with the insignia of POW/MIA, I know what I have lost, and I reflect upon how enriched our life would have been if we had known my Grandfather, and the other family members lost to us because his connection to his home town was severed with his death.
What I did learn is that there were Lundy's who were Quakers that settled where I live now. They are part of the founding families of the Sharon Temple, of the Children of Peace. There is documentation that in the recent years following 1815 Lundy's left Sharon to head north to Burks Falls seeking more land to farm. I believe our Lundys are part of that group.
My Great Grandmother Elisabeth Lundy (nee Boyd) married Charles Lundy.
I know from WWI records that in 1915 Charles Lundy, a woodsman, joined the army. He served his term and returned to Burks Falls. At the time of his first term in the WWI his religious status was Methodist. And in 1917 his records have him married to Elizabeth and his status then changed to Jehovah's Witness. Seems like a religious change for marriage occurred before he left for a second tour in WWI. In those days folks from Burks Falls who wanted to go to war had to travel to Parry Sound to sign up.
On my journeys back to Burks Falls I am always nudged by this ache to know my history of the Lundys and Boyds, and this time I did a little research with the town hall, and went out to the old cemetary. At the town hall I found out that there were still Lundys in Burks Falls until 3 yrs ago. The last Brother and Sister have died off now, but they do have at least 4 live children. In the near future I am going to look into this history with the help of the town, and we may possibly find some lost kin.
So now you know what draws me to The Great White North over and over again. Wilderness and quiet, and a chance to commune with nature, and the Ghosts of my past kin. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.
How did we come to go to the particular place on the Magnettawan River where we camp today?
It was through our friend Cliff and Ann. Ann's Dad was a WWII veteran. His best friend from the war was a man named Ron. Ron is now in his 85th year and he has a farm and deep bush in Burks falls.
The land of his farm is pockets of plateau with rich fields for grain with a spire of old Canadian Shield-red marble mountain splitting the land in two. Upon this rock sits the biggest sugar bush you have ever seen (sugar bush is land with hard maple trees for making maple syrup). 200plus acres of land coil on each side of this mountainous sugar bush hiding the grain fields within the forests. On the edge of this forest runs the Magnettawan River, and across the river is more land he owns which is dense bush ripe for Moose and Bear.
Ron is a great man. Rich with knowledge he learned from his trade in the war, and the years of history he has as a farmer. He grew up in Scarborough in a farm at Ellesemere Road and rimmed by Orton Park and Scarborough Golf Club Road. That farm would be a neighbour farm to my Uncle Johnny Wilson's farm on Ellesemere. Mom Remembers the Thomas's farm up there too from her childhood, for the Wilsons (her family) were one of the origional Scarborough Ontario families. My Gramps Syd was well known as a track star and documentation articles are written on his Entemology (bug collecting) hobby and his Fencing ablility (sword fighting). Remember my Grandparents owned the sister house to Toronto's famous Pioneer Inn called the Halfway House which is not preserved in Pioneer Village.
Later Ron Moved to Brohm Ontario north East of Pickering), but by 1959 he moved up to Burks falls to farm.
This year Ron (at 85 or so) still took off 2000 bales of hay from his land to sell to local farmers for their horses and livestock, and he has a few chickens for eggs.
His daily routine is field care and animal care followed by cutting down trees and stock-piling wood for fuel in his Oil/wood furnace.
Winters are long and sometimes hard up this far north, so close to Sunridge and North Bay, and West of Algonquin Park.
This life certainly suits Ron. Widowed, he lives alone and his hard work keeps him quite healthy, and his stamina is astoounding!
He is such a lovely man. He opens up his land to us to camp by the river in his woods, and he also teaches us many things while we are there. This time we really learned how to deal with disaster and how a calm attitude can allow one to accomplish so much in a short period of time to stay safe and sheltered.
We have downsized our camping from a camper canvas trailer hauled around in a big van to tents lugged in a car. So we have found really interesting kits to help us have all the conveniences of home at our fingertips.
First are our tables. These tables are so portable they are in a thin bag and weigh almost nothing.
Each bag contains a roll of wooden slats and some pipe legs in a fold out mechanism that opens in accordion fashion.
You can see the legs set up here along side our portable gas camping stove. Coleman is a big camping gear company here. The gas is called Naptha. It is a liquid fuel.
After rolling out the table top I slide plastic nobs attached to elastic cords holding the slats together, to the ends of each pip and Viola! a nice square table! We have two of them.
We store our utensils kits in plastic baskets for easy storage and portablility. I use an old refridgerator drawer for a wash basin. It slids right into the basket catching the edges to float upon the rim.
We have lawn chairs that fold out like the table and store in long pouches too. Making this whole kit of convenience easy to pack in a car with our complact lightweight tents.
Ron owns a 5th wheel trailer. Cliff and Ann stayed in there this time instead of in their tents. The 5th wheel has a king sized bed area in front and one in the back in a bench and table conversion in its kitchen. It also has a toilet,tub and shower in it for when one is not in the wilderness and can hook up to a sanitation and water centre at a camp ground. It also has a full kitchen with fridge, stove and oven and sink for convenience. Cliff and Ann used propane gas for the stove, and were able to use it in the wilderness with no problems.
Ron built a little camp for himself out at the river and he made this huge picnic table with shelter by building this unit using two trees rooted into the ground, and building the table out of wonderful pine and covering the roof with tin. We can sit at the table in a downpour and still not get wet.
Ann, Cliff and Carl
I did alot of cooking at camp. This is the first breakfast we had. Toast, eggs and bacon.
I stirfried fresh veggies to put into the omelettes.
I took some night-before baked potatoes and fried them up for everyone else as homefries.
Ann and Cliff at the big picnic table eating breakfast.
My omelette with my special soy protein pita and ummmm a treat of bacon! My omelettes are 99% egg white for my health.
This is our dining tent. It has flaps that can cover the screens to keep out the rain.
I can even put them up as canopies.
This is our tent. It has three outside doors and we have in it what is called a Queen-size bed in a bag with a memory foam top. This bed has the fold out accordion leg system that our tables and lawn chairs have and a Queen-size air mattress that blows up using its own electrical pump, and is topped with comfortable memory foam to keep you warm and to soften the ride.
And how do I generate electricity in the bush? The Power Eliminator which can charge at home plugged into the wall-socket, and will trickle charge using a solar panel while we are away. Solar power baby! The whole bed takes about 8 min to put up and be ready to use. It keeps us off the ground and in comfort on the nights that got down to 7 degrees Celcius.
The second night we had disaster!
A tornado suddenly came through the land and broke of a 90 ft tree at a point about 35 ft from the ground.
The tree crashed down and split a point in the centre of the 5th wheel trailer over the bed.
When the tree crashed it bounced and hit the top roof of the picnic table shelter and split the tip of the tree into two pieces and bent the tin roof of the shelter, leaving a tree wedged agains the trailer door and running the full length of the trailer and advancing forward at least 35 feet into the camp from the trailer end.
At the time Carl, Ann and Cliff were in the trailer. We had eaten dinner in the trailer because there was a horrible rainstorm. I had just left the camper to go to our car and get my computer and a movie so we could watch a battery-powered DVD show in the evening while having tea.
I dilly-dallied while I checked our tent to make sure it had no water in it, before I got my computer out of the car. As I stood in the dry tent a noise like a train started in the air outside and the wind began to pull up the tent. I grabbed the tents outside poles from inside the tent and held on while sitting on the bed, using my body weight to keep the tent from taking flight. There was a loud crack of what sounded like lightning and then a BOOB! so loud my ears rang.
Then only silence as the wind lessened and the rain fell around.
I had no idea what happened. I thought that our dining tent and car were problably destroyed....and I just sat on the bed in shock. Unable to see out because the storm flaps were all closed and the rain still pelted down threatening to wet me if I opened any flap. Then I heard my name being called. I yelled back, but the details of the words were lost in the storm. I thought that Carl, Cliff and Ann were hurt, and they thought I was dead, as they did not hear me through the violent rain.
Alas I came out the back door of the tent calling out to Carl, not expecting what I suddenly saw. The huge Balsam near the outhouse had fallen and the camp and the trailer were in ruin.
The awning and glass in the front of the trailer were smashed and Ann and Cliff where climbing over the tree to get out the door as Carl made his way along the trunk of the tree to make sure I was not under it.
A huge hole was in the top of the 5th wheel roof and water from the storm poured into the trailer.
Our tents did not have one thing wrong with them, but the wind had upheaved all inside the dining tent and had begun to collapse a second tree that threatened our side of the camp.
We were soaked and trying to move debris as quickly as we could. Cliff drove the mile up to the farm house to get Ron. He found Ron in the dark in a power failure. Ron got the tractor and drove down in a convoy with Cliff in the van.
Ron studied the carnage and went to work with the tractor to pull the tree away from the trailor and he and the guys cut up the tree quickly and stacked the debris.
Our only loss were a few snow peas, our paper towel, and the rest of our stuff in the dining tent was just really wet where the rain came in the side where the canopy was erected.
Look how wet Carl is.
This all started around 8:30PM, and by 10:55 all was cut away, plus the trailer was tarped to save the it from any more rain, and Ann drove Ron back up to the farm house.
The next day.
Who Said Camping is all about rest and relaxation?
See the chainsaw event and how much wood was cut, and how close the second tree came to wiping our side of the site out:
This is a cut of the Balsam that came down. The wholes are from the Asian Long Horned beetle which weakened the tree to the storm. You can count the rings to see how old it is.
He finds a grub of an Asian Long Horned Beetle
Ron makes short work of the other weak tree:
The huge hole in the roof.
You can see the culprit tree behind the trailer. Where the rip of the bark is, is the last part of the tree to expel. Right in line with the dent in the trailer roof!
The quiet of the Magnettawan river is captured in this video:
The guys going for a boat ride:
A breakfast of pancakes!
Computer out for downloading. Powered via the Eliminator and solar panels.
Sunday, Ron and Kenny came down to the camp. Our adventurous few days followed by this lovely day of rest. Kenny brought down a roast and I cooked up a great dinner on the camp stove. I used a big wok with a lid as an oven and I was even able to make gravy. We cooked everyone but me a baked potatoe on the camp fire and we had salad too!
I marinated the roast in Wisers Rye wisky and water and herbs as my secret to cooking the meat.
Sunday night the guys went up to the farm house to play pool with Ron, Kenny and Frank.
Carl looking to set up his shot.
Ron and Carl
Frank and Cliff
Frank setting up his shot.
Upp a breakfast again. Toast and scrambleed egg whites. I broke up some left over bacon in it so it was more like speck (if you are German you know speck), and put it in the eggs.
As I said, I went out the the Burks Falls graveyard to look for my relatives.
I found two Boyds.
The lichen is allover the stones so it is hard to see some of the old words.
I believe that there is a good good chance that Elizabeth Boyd who was a Crosbie was my Great Great Grandmother. This stone says she married Hugh Boyd.
There is a net document of another grave of a Nellie too, but I did not find it on this trip. The graveyard map from the town hall is not that accurate.
This is a grave of a child Cecil C. Boyd who was born in 1905 and died in 1907. Seems he must have been adopted by family because he has his old name, yet the name of his parents are C and K. Beagley.
I knew my Great Grandmother Elizableth. She survived her husband Charles Lundy and then married a man with the last name Harmon and survived him and married a man with the last name Ascott, and that is the Great Grandfather I knew. She made her way from Burks Falls, to Toronto and then ended out her days in Windsor, Ontario. I believe she was still alive when I married in 1984, but she was too old to travel to our Wedding.
Finding A Rock With My Name On It
Just before I left for my holiday, my friend Tere told me on the phone, "I am certain there is a rock in Burks Falls with my name on it. Can you find it for me?"
This is a bit of a joke. There are no rocks that actually have our names upon them, but the idea is we need to take ownership of some of that great Canadian Shield rock for our collections.
Well, it just-so-happens that they are blowing up the rock-cut up in Burks Falls and building a huge new ramp cloverleaf and overpass on Hwy11 at Burks Falls. So I went snooping for some rocks in the blast area. I found some beauties!
If you look into the background you can see the veins of red and white in the cliffs left behind!
We had equal rain and sun on this holiday. Not perfect. But we were dry and slept good and had enought sun for fun.
Here is Carl in a plastic bag workin a fire during a sunshower.
Ron said I could go hunt for red marble on his property up in the sugar bush. So I did, and I came back with some great slabs of rock.
At home I washed up my finds. I can see rocks with my name and Tere's name on them!
So that is the story of our Trip to Burks Falls, and how we survived a tornado and found some rocks with our name on it.