Spring/Summer 2008 Number 51

Winter Natural History Walk

By Dora Hunter

Dora Hunter points out something of interest along the Doe Lake Trail during the Natural History Walk at the Park (photo: Jerome McDuff)On January 26th a small group enjoyed mild winter temperatures for a natural history hike on the Arab Lake Gorge trail. The best sightings of the day bracketed other observations. Before the hike, the Helmstaedts and Jerome McDuff observed an immature Bald Eagle feeding from a deer carcass on South Otter Lake, to be replaced at the end of the day by an adult Bald Eagle.

On the hike proper, the identifying characteristics of a number of tree species were pointed out. With the leaf canopy gone, we were able to spot Vireo, Thrush and Fall Webworm nests that had survived the high winds experienced lately. In the snow, we found the tracks of White-tailed deer, Red squirrel and members of the weasel family. Bark scraps in the snow at the base of a rotting tree were a sure sign of a woodpecker at work. A Cecropia moth cocoon, conveniently attached to a branch hanging over the trail, was a good excuse for examining photos demonstrating the life cycle of this magnificent moth.

In winter the huge rock formations that are the foundation of the terrain seem even more imposing and led Herb Helmstaedt, our resident geologist, to explain some of the geological characteristics and history of the area. We found the evergreen fronds of Rock Polypody and Marginal Shield fern peeking from the snow on the rocks and the fertile fronds of Ostrich, Sensitive and Royal ferns in the valley floor. Here and there, remnants of last seasonís Columbine, Goldenrod, Asters and Dodder poked through the snow cover.

It was disappointing to have no visit from a winter flock of birds, but there is always something to see and ponder on this trail, and this day was no exception.


President's Message

The President Herb Helmstaedt carrying a load of wood. (Photo: Jerome McDuff)December and January kept your Board of Directors busy with planning the Friend’s programs and projects for the year ahead.  In the meantime, the winter part of our program schedule has already run its course. For a change, we had plenty of snow for the winter camping instruction day in January and the two camping weekends in February. All three events were well attended, attracting visitors from far and wide. Thanks to Don Stables and Erhard Frenzl for continuing to take the lead in these now very popular events.

Though attended by only a small group, the winter nature hike on January 26th led by Dora Hunter was a special treat. It began with observing a juvenile bald eagle, at a deer kill on South Otter Lake. As we were standing in wonderment with our binoculars in front of the Trail Centre, we all thought of Tom Marsh whose article ‘Winter Eagles’ was reprinted in our last Newsletter. We took more than two hours to negotiate the short Arab Lake Gorge Trail during which Dora helped us to open our eyes and forever change our appreciation of a snowed covered winter landscape. A highlight among all the ferns, lichens, bird’s nests and animal tracks was the discovery of the cocoon of a Cecropia moth in a tree branch above the trail. One couldn’t help but wonder how the pupa inside this cocoon not only withstands the winter temperatures but uses this dormant stage to morph into such beautiful and large moth in spring. To top off the hike, a majestic adult bald eagle swooped in on the deer kill when we returned to the Trail Centre for our hot chocolate.

Our winter lecture on February 7th saw James Raffan talk to a capacity crowd of over a hundred people in the Wilson Room of the Kingston Public Library. For one and three quarter hours, one could not hear a pin drop while he spun three quite different canoeing stories into a coherent and most exciting yarn that left many of us thinking and even more eager to read his two latest books. An extra bonus was the recounting of his recent adventures in Cuba where he discovered a canoeing tradition that none of us had ever heard of.

Snow conditions and weather could not have been better for Ed Grenda’s snowshoe workshop on February 16th. After hearing about the history of snowshoeing and learning to look at traditional snowshoes as the ‘winter canoe’ of the native people of this continent, we saw an assortment of old and new snowshoe models complete with Ed’s comments of advantages and disadvantages of each type. Most interesting was Ed’s use of 6 ft pieces of old-fashioned lamp wick as bindings, a method which proved indeed superior to all other, more modern binding types used by the 17 participants on the afternoon hike around Doe Lake Trail. Much fun was had on the trail, with Ed patiently helping those whose bindings malfunctioned while giving instructions on how to negotiate the ups and downs of the trail.

While establishing a timetable for our programs is now almost a matter of routine, the planning of our new projects takes longer, and discussions between the Board and Park staff are still ongoing. Two volunteer work days are scheduled in the spring to finish outstanding work on the Doe Lake Trail project. In cooperation with the Park, the Board has been discussing to major new projects. The first is the rebuilding of the foot bridge, near the parking lot at the southwestern end of Big Salmon Lake. This will have to be done in stages, with the first work weekends planned for this coming fall, when water levels will be low. Not to overload our volunteer workers, we have not planned a formal fall trail sweep this year, hoping to accomplish the sweeping by volunteers who participate in the Frontenac Challenge. The second major new project is a Park/Friends initiative to plan and eventually “build” a new trail loop which is intermediate in length between the 3km Doe Lake Trail and the 8 km Bufflehead Trail. This is a long-range project and will involve similar preparatory work as was done for the Bufflehead Trail. Preliminary field work to assess feasibility and locate possible connections between existing trails is planned for this spring. I expect that several options will be identified in the new Park management plan by the time it will be opened for public review. In any case, we will keep you posted on all further developments.

Two other items are worth reporting, both are still in the discussion stage. The first is related to the appeal at the end of my message in the winter newsletter “to make an effort in 2008 to bring a friend to the Friends”. We plan to have a day in the fall, at the beginning of the Frontenac Challenge (possibly September 6th), on which the Friends of Frontenac invite people who are new to the Park for a hike or canoe outing. We envisage that on this day we will have volunteer hosts with refreshments at the trail centre. The second item concerns the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve initiative which as of last year also includes the area of Frontenac Park. I proposed to the Board that the Friends of Frontenac become a member of this initiative to become informed about it and have a vote. To this end, we have invited Andrew Graham of the Friends of Charleston Lake Park and Don Ross (the executive director of FABR) to our next board meeting (March 17th) for an information session. I invite your feedback on this issue and suggest that you look at their website. I expect that we will put this item on the agenda of our annual meeting in November.

I wish you all an enjoyable spring and summer, and I hope to see many of you in the Park, either on the trails or on the water.

Herb Helmstaedt


2008 Board of Directors

The Friends of Frontenac Park is a non profit organization whose purpose is to develop programs and materials that enhance the public's awareness, education, and appreciation of the natural environment and human history of Frontenac Provincial Park.

President: Herb Helmstaedt
Vice-President: Paul Vickers
Treasurer: Jim King
Secretary: David Crane
Membership: John Critchley
Publicity: Heather Stables
Director at Large: Anne Hogle
Director at Large: Cathy Murray
Wilderness Skills: Don Stables
Newsletter: Harvey Guy


Property Acquisition: Dora Hunter
Winter Camping: Don Stables
Frontenac Challenge: Joan McDuff, Erhard Frenzl
Park Management Plan: Paul Vickers
Map Distribution: John Olson
Newsletter Editor: Harvey Guy
Newsletter Publisher: Ron Abbott

The Friends of Frontenac Park publishes the Frontenac News three times annually. Note that the views expressed in the Frontenac News are not necessarily those of the Friends of Frontenac or the editor. Some articles are published to give the viewpoint of an author and to incite discussions.

We welcome your articles, notes, stories, and photographs for the newsletter. Your ideas, suggestions, and constructive criticisms are always welcome. Material accepted is subject to editing and revision.

Next deadline for submission of material:

Monday August 11th 2008

Copy should be mailed to: Friends of Frontenac Park, c/o Harvey Guy, P.O. Box 2237, Kingston, Ont. K7L 5J9

NOTE: You can visit us at:



Here is a list of upcoming activities that maybe of interest to you. Please participate and tell your friends about them The * denotes Friends' sponsored activities Do not forget that you will need to purchase a daily vehicle or camping permit to take part in most of these activities. Contact the Park (613 376 3489) for more information.

* Saturday, March 29: Volunteer/Guide/Host Training Would you like to volunteer at the Park? Come to this training session offered by the Park staff and the Friends at the Trail Centre. Time: 09:00 to 15:00; Contact the Park (376 3489) for details.

* Monday, March 31: Your Friends Membership Ends We need your support so please renew your membership for another year.

* Saturday April 12 & Sunday April 13: Doe Lake Rehabilitation  Come out and join with the Friends on one of two days dedicated to putting the finishing touches on the work to upgrade the Doe Lake hiking trail. Meet at the Trail Centre at 08:45.  Contact the Park at 376-3489 or visit our website ( for actual date/time and further information.

* Sunday, April 13: Historical Walk Join the Friends on this walk down memory lane and learn a bit about the human history of Frontenac Park. A short walk (approx. 7km) down Big Salmon Lake Road past some of the old family homesteads of the area’s early settlers. Meet at the Trail Centre at 10:30 and return at approx. 16:00. Bring water, a lunch, good walking shoes and lots of questions. Please register with the Park at 376-3489 and plan to go, rain or shine.

* Monday, April 14: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 120 at 19:00.

* Sunday, April 20: Guide Spring Trail Sweep The Volunteers/Guides will do general maintenance on the Park's trails to get them in top shape for our visitors. Meet at the Trail Centre at 08:30 to 16:30; Contact the Park (376 3489) for details.

* Monday, May 5: Friends Board Meeting Location LCVI, Rm. 120 at 19:00.

Saturday May 24 & Sunday May 25: Basic Wilderness First Aid Presented by SOLO Canada / Mr. Mark Halladay of Emergency Services, Kingston.  This course, designed by Dr. Frank Hubble of the North American Rescue Institute, takes you beyond standard first aid. Cost $165.00 (GST included) per person plus park fee. Time: 08:30 to 16:30; Contact the Park at 376-3489 for further details and to register.

Sunday, June 1: Canoe Clinic This presentation by the Cataraqui Canoe Club is for beginners and first time canoeists. Canoes, Paddles & PFD’s are supplied. Cost is $10.00 per person plus park fee. Time: 10:00 to 16:00. See Park Tabloid for more details.

Saturday, June 7 & Sunday June 8: Flatwater Tandem Canoe (ORCKA Flatwater A,B,C) Certification Course  
Presented by Barry Irish, Paddle Away Adventures, Kingston, Ontario. Forms prerequisite for all subsequent canoeing certification. Successful participants receive badge, card and registration in O.R.C.K.A. Cost: $150.00 /person plus park fee. Time: 09:00 to 16:30 at the Trail Centre. See Park Tabloid for further details or call 613 376-3489.

* Saturday June 14: Wilderness Navigation using Map and Compass Come and learn how to interpret and read topographical maps and then find your way in the wilderness using a variety of techniques and equipment. Cost $20.00 per person (plus GST and Park fee). Time: 09:00 to 16:00. Meet at the Trail Centre.

* Saturday, June 28: President’s Paddle Join the Friends for a canoe trip on Buck Lake to campsite 1. The flotilla will depart the Buck Lake boat launch at 10:00 and anticipated return is 16:00. For those wishing to camp the campsite cluster has been booked for the nights of June 27 and 28.

* Monday, June 16: Friends Board Meeting  Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

Sunday, July 6: Introduction to Fishing Workshop  Presented by Rick & Sally Blasko, Northern Country Outdoor World, Inverary. Learn about proper equipment, fish locating, filleting, and casting & retrieving techniques. Practice yours skills afterwards on Otter Lake. An Ontario Fishing Licence is not required for this workshop. Cost $10.00 per person or $15.00 per family plus park fee. Time: 10:00 to 16:00.  See Park Tabloid for further details.

Saturday, July 12: Kayaking Basics – “Getting Started” Presented by Christine Showler, Frontenac Outfitters Canoe and Kayak Centre Come out and discover the world of kayaking in this introductory ½ day course. Kayak and paddling gear will be provided. Cost: $62.25 /person (plus park fee) Time: 13:00 to 16:00. See Park Tabloid for further details.

Saturday, July 26: Flatwater Solo Canoeing (ORCKA Flatwater D Certification Course) Presented by Barry Irish, Paddle Away Adventures, Kingston, Ontario. Flatwater A,B,C (Tandem) is a prerequisite for this course. Successful participants receive badge, card and registration in O.R.C.K.A.  Cost: $80.00 /person plus park fee. Time: 09:00 to 16:30 at the Trail Centre. See Park Tabloid for further details or call 376-3489.

Sunday, July 27: Flatwater Sea Kayaking Introduction Presented by Christine Showler, Frontenac Outfitters Canoe and Kayak Centre. An introduction to the most commonly used techniques, theories, strokes, rescue & recovery skills. Register on-line at or by calling 613-376-6220. Cost: $178.50 /person plus park fee. Time: 08:30 to 16:30 at the Trail Centre. See Park Tabloid for further details.

* Monday, August 11: Deadline for Autumn Newsletter  We welcome your articles, letters, stories and photographs. Material should be e-mailed to:  For electronic items, please sent articles as Microsoft Word files with a minimum of formatting, and photographs as 180 dpi greyscale.

* Sept. 1 to Oct. 31: Frontenac Challenge  The Frontenac Challenge involves hiking all 160 km of the Park’s trail network between September 1 and October 31. To meet the challenge, pick up a registration form and the specific trail information at the Trail Centre and then set out to hike through the autumn grandeur of Frontenac Park. Participants who complete the Challenge will receive a certificate at the Awards Banquet on Saturday November 9, at 10:30. So come out to Frontenac Park and take the Challenge!

* Monday, September 8: Friends Board Meeting  Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Sunday, September 21: Wilderness Navigation using Map and Compass Come and learn how to interpret and read topographical maps and then find your way in the wilderness using a variety of techniques and equipment. Cost $20.00 per person (plus GST and Park fee). Time: 09:00 to 16:00. Meet at the Trail Centre.

Sunday, September 28: GPS Navigation Workshop Presented by Greg Philliban, Adventure Rescue Training, Spencerville, Ontario. A workshop designed to show you how to operate a GPS to report a location such as an accident, rescue location or a missing person. Bring your own compass and GPS unit (a basic/monochrome Magellan or Garmin) Cost: $50.00 /person plus park fee. Time: 10:00 to 15:00.  See Park Tabloid for further details.

* Monday, October 6: Friends Board Meeting  Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Sunday November 9: Frontenac Challenge Awards Barbecue Registered participants will receive a certificate of achievement, share stories and chow down on hot dogs, including vegetarian fare, cooked by the Friends. Donations will be gratefully received. Meet at the Trail Centre for 10:30.

* Sunday November 9: Annual General Meeting All members are invited to attend the Friends’ AGM to start at 13:00 at the Trail Centre. The minutes of the last AGM will be posted at 12:30. Why not come early and join us for the Challenge BBQ? This will give you an opportunity to meet the Challenge participants.

* Monday, November 10: Friends Board Meeting  Location LCVI, Rm. 121 at 19:00

* Monday December 1: Deadline for Winter Newsletter  We welcome your articles, letters, stories and photographs. Material should be e-mailed to:  For electronic items, please sent articles as Microsoft Word files with a minimum of formatting, and photographs as 180 dpi greyscale.

* Monday, December 8: Friends Board Meeting  Location and time to be determined.


Word has it !

Last years Winter Lecture speaker, Mr. Kevin Callan, is returning to Tweed to do a talk on last summer's trip on the Kopka River.  The date is Thursday April 24 and the talk is in Tweed at Hungerford Hall (across from the ValuMart) at 7:00 PM.


Snowshoe Clinic Photographs

Mr. Ed Grenda demonstrates how lamp wick can be used to create a very effective snowshoe harness.

Ed Grenda shows snowshoe harness

Participants in this years Snowshoe Clinic pose for a picture before heading out on the Doe Lake Trail.

Participants pose for a group picture

Mr. Ed Grenda sheppards his troop of snowshoe enthusiasts across a footbridge during this years Snowshoe Clinic at the Park.

Ed Grenda and the participants on the trail


A Tio Wulf Ramble

By Larry Gibbons

This winter I’ve been doing a lot of rambling and roaming about, up in the Cape Breton Highlands. Some people were quite surprised when I told them that we were going east for the winter.

“You’re going where? East ? Don’t they have lots of snow and long winters? Most people go south.”

I just tell them that I like winter and that the mountains look prettier in the winter than they do in the summer. The mixture of snow and green spruce trees making the mountains look like they’re covered with thousands of tasty, sugar-coated Christmas candies, ripe for the picking. I don’t think that this description persuades any of our friends to migrate east though. I can understand the attraction of the hotter climates.

Anyway, while I’m up here, my mind is never really very far from the Frontenac Provincial Park.

I remember a Native friend and myself wandering through the Frontenac Park. She is from the Cape Breton Highlands. She was amazed at the variety of landscape and vegetation that she was finding in the park and had to admit that it certainly was a beautiful park.
Many years ago, I decided that I would have to do something to cement this love triangle of mine. Here is the Frontenac Park, which has been such an important part of my life for such a long time and then there was this other love of mine, the Cape Breton Highlands. Lots of shared memories there too and I love them both and what was I going to do about this dichotomy?

Well, what I did was draw an imaginary cord in my mind. One end of the cord is tied to the Frontenac Park and the other end of the cord is tied to the Cape Breton Highlands.

 Kahlil Gibran wrote, “All things in this creation exist within you, and all things in you exist in creation; there is no border between you and the closest things, and there is no distance between you and the farthest things, and all things, from the lowest to the loftiest, from the smallest to the greatest, are within you as equal things.”

My imaginary cord is about 1200 miles long. I can anchor it to different places. So it might be tied around a tall birch tree that hovers over the wee, stone-littered beach that lines one end of Little Salmon Lake while the other end of the cord might be secured to a pile of spruce logs that are piled along a highland trail. A high vantage point from which I can see miles of brown and green covered highland mountains and the bare rocky peak of Bald Mountain.

Last week I was sitting at the foot of an almost frozen Highland waterfall. It was still managing to splash some white water down into the frozen pool below. The mountains rose high above and the snow was frozen solid around the rocks, creating a world of white sculptures. It was gorgeous, and while there, I tied my imaginary cord around one of the spruce trees, with green needles that were crusted in ice and snow. Then I ran this cord across four provinces, being sure to pay the four dollars at the toll road outside Truro, Nova Scotia, down the tiny road that leads to the Frontenac Park, through a tinier trail that meanders through the park’s forest and stopped at beautiful Lynch Lake. I tied this end of my imaginary cord to a fallen birch tree that a beaver had chomped down this summer. Now I was connected to Uisge Ban Falls in Cape Breton and I had knotted the other end to a tiny snow-covered campsite located on Lynch Lake. I love both places and both places enrich my life.

Now, you can get a little protective when you love something or someone. One of my biggest worries is that we will love our wild places to death. We will gradually or quickly change them into our own image so that we eventually won’t have many wild places left. Then we will have to really use our imagination to recreate the wilds that we have lost.

This will continue to bother me, as long as natural places are viewed as resources, a concept which allows us to manipulate and use all wild places, without apology. The intrinsic belief by many, that humans are the centre of the universe, while the wilderness is a “natural resource”,  is downright dangerous and will eventually lead to the evisceration of all wilderness and then eventually of all humans.
So I say, thank God for people in the world like the Friends of the Frontenac Park. People who passionately care about the park and who actively attempt to preserve and maintain its wild integrity.

 I am going to keep hoping and praying that we will continue to have wild places to which we can anchor our minds. No matter where we are. Places like the Frontenac Provincial Park.

 Robert Frost wrote, in his poem, “Dust of Snow”:
The way a crow
shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree.

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Long live the Frontenac Provincial Park.
…. Tio Wulf


The Best Defence is a Strong Offence

By Dora Hunter

Snapping Turtle, Photo by Jerome McDuffConsider the plight of the snapping turtle, which when found in its usual water home is a shy, retiring reptile, happy to pursue its roll as garbage collector of the ponds. Unlike that of its cousin the Painted turtle, the Snapper’s plastron, the lower half of its shell, covers only a small portion of its underbelly. When threatened, the Painted turtle instinctively withdraws its head, legs and tail into its little fortress. The Snapping turtle, having no such recourse, relies on its remarkable striking speed, agility, long neck and strong beak to give a good accounting of itself in any confrontation.

When the confrontation is one between turtle and automobile the efficacy of the Snapper’s offensive defence becomes questionable. Threatened by an oncoming car, the Painted turtle hunkers down and, if not blown over or struck by a tire, lives to complete its perilous crossing. However, even if the driver takes care to straddle the Snapper, it instinctively strikes out at the automobile undercarriage. I have removed many Snappers whose only apparent damage is a broken jaw, an injury that dooms this magnificent reptile to a slow death by starvation.

My usual practice, if safe to do so, is to stop at the side of the road and, with a flat bladed shovel, assist or remove any species of turtle to the side of the road to which it was headed. Because Snappers are so feisty and, if time permits, will get themselves across a road, I frequently wait them out. Some rescuers have found that having the Snapper grip a sturdy stick and then dragging it to the side is effective. Because it can result in a spinal chord injury, it is best to avoid lifting the Snapping turtle by its tail. At the very least, if at all possible, drive around a Snapper, thus avoiding a confrontation. Collisions with vehicles are taking a terrible toll on all reptilian species.

Let us use what we know of their natural history to make life-saving decisions on their behalf.


Winter Camping Photographs

The instructors, Erhard Frenzl and Don Stables, talk to participants about Hypothermia at the Winter Camping Lecture held in the Trail Centre.

Winter Camping Instructor: Erhard Frenzl Winter Camping Instructor: Don Stables

Work continues on the construction of a quinzee at this years winter camping outing lead by Erhard Frenzl and Don Stables

building a quinzee



Members in good standing of the Friends can enjoy a discount of 10% off regular price merchandise (except canoes, kayaks and MEC price-matched items) at The Peak Experience. The Peak Experience is Kingston's only locally owned outdoor store and is located at 62 Brock Street and 795 Gardiners Road at Taylor Kidd. Present your Friends membsership card with photo identification at your next visit to the Peak Experience.

Your membership with the Friends also entitles you to a 15% discount at Novel Idea, a Kingston owned bookstore located at 156 Princess Street.