The Lodge at Pine Cove

A well-placed phone call got me a spot on the 1:30 p.m. Champlain cruise at Wolseley Bay, the North Channel of the French River system.  When I arrived at the Lodge at Pine Cove, it was raining so Alex, the proprietor and our skipper, asked if I minded waiting until the rain passed before we headed off.  Determined not to miss a trip that I’d waited four years to experience, I agreed.

Finally, at 3:00 p.m. the last of the rain passed by and the sun came out.  By then there were only three of us to board.  Alex opened the wet deck chairs and covered them with rain slickers to protect our delicate behinds, and we were off.

The French River was formed 900-1600 million years ago during the ice age. It was carved out a complicated system of rivers that runs through solid Grenville rock from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay. During the 1600’s, the main channel of the French River was the primary highway to the west were voyageurs traded for beaver pelts with the various native tribes that dotted the rocky coast in order fill a demand for the fashionable top hat made from the coveted prize.

The voyageurs brought a group of friars of the Recollet order in the hopes of converting the native tribes to Christianity.  If you want to find out how well that went, read Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda, a realistic and graphic account of the time.

Alex took us to Five Finger Rapids Park, a part of the Dokis Reserve, where we hiked through the woods to view the rapids first hand.  Fellow passenger Grace picked the wild blueberries that grow in profusion and shared them with us.  Their delicate floral bouquet was warm on the tongue.

On our way back to the lodge, Alex stopped the boat at the island habitat of a bald eagle.   As the boat bobbed and turned I attempted to snap a picture and got lucky with this one on the left.

Animal sightings have special meaning in our lives if we choose to believe them.  The eagle is a symbol of healing.  It tells us to look at life from a new perspective and to trust our path and what we are becoming.

After the cruise, I stayed for dinner.  After all, there was no-one waiting for me at my motel room. I spent a relaxing evening on the screened verandah overlooking the bay while I enjoyed a fish salad, pickerel with grilled asparagus and tomatoes, followed by a light lemon tart and cream earl grey tea.  At this point, Alex stopped by my table to wish me well.  When I expressed my desire to stay at the lodge in the future he kindly offered to show me what was available.

Born in England, Alex bought the lodge in 1998 after he decided to leave a successful business and live a different type of life at the French River in northern Ontario.  The lodge was run down when he bought it, but with time and effort, he has built it into a successful business that is ideal for couples who want to get away from the city and experience nature first hand.  His philosophy for the lodge is peace and beauty.  With this in mind, there are no television sets in any of the cabins, and wifi is only available at the main lodge.  The cabins are luxurious.  My favourite is Dokis, named after Chief Dokis of the Dokis reserve.  It is the only log cabin at the resort and was built by Alex and the sons of the Dokis chief.  There is a main living/dining/kitchen that runs down the centre of the cabin, flanked by a bedroom on either side, each with its own screened-in balcony.  There is also a large screened-in balcony off the kitchen that offers a spectacular view of Wolseley Bay.  The bathroom hosts a copper bathtub that sits beside a window, so you don’t miss the view.

As I drove back to my accommodation that night I thought about my visit to the lodge and how friendly everyone was to me, making me think that maybe travelling alone wasn’t so lonely after all.


Categories: Memoir, Uncategorized

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