Winter 2010 Number 56

Doe Lake

Doe Lake from the Doe Lake Trail - Photo Stefan Szrajer

I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me - I am happy.
  Hamlin Garland
Photo Stefan Szrajer



A Tio Wulf Ramble

Living in a cabin near the Frontenac Park boundary can be an adventure at times.

A few years ago, while Sue was in the kitchen standing by the sink, I ambled into the dim kitchen and spotted what I thought was an extension cord lying on the kitchen floor. I wondered why Sue would leave an extension cord littering the floor. She is a tidy person.

Snake on a window sill. (Photo: Larry Gibbons)Then the cord moved. By itself. Sue hadn’t touched it. I hadn’t touched it either, which meant, to me, that either we were having an earthquake, I was having a migraine aura, there was a poltergeist haunting our kitchen or the long thin thing was alive.

It was alive, and it was thin because it was a long Rat Snake. Who began slithering towards our little cupboard where we keep our cans and bottles of food. Although I am a bit frightened of snakes, but not the jump-on-the-car-roof-and-try-to-fly-into-the-sky kind of afraid, I grabbed the snake by the tail. Actually, it might not have been the tail because where exactly does a snake’s tail begin and end? Anyway, I grabbed the part with no eyes and no teeth because I was assuming and hoping that the head part with the eyes and the sharp teeth was inside the cupboard. The snake was hanging onto something in the cupboard which was why he was so hard to pull out. And while I was tugging away I was also trying to figure out how a snake, with no arms or legs, was able to hold onto anything.

It was a tough tug of war but I was stronger. Not braver, mind you, and I dangled the rat snake way out in front of me as I gingerly carried him outside. Later on we found out that the snake had been in the living room, between Sue’s computer desk and the wood box. It was here, next to the high tech, virus-infected computer that the snake had performed a complete striptease and shed his or her skin. Sue still has the skin in one of her special wooden bowls. We felt blessed by the evidence we found in our tiny living room, though various visitors have been visibly grossed out.

We have a window in our living room which is so poorly insulated that it ensures we will never have to worry about dying in our sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning. One Sunday we saw a rat snake slithering up this window. We were amazed at how she could move so slowly and yet get to her destination. I thought, “I sure could use some of that patience,” and I also noted that it’s easy to see which end of a snake is up, when they’re climbing a window and it’s bright enough to see.

We think the snake who was in our kitchen and climbed the window, might be the one who hunts mice up in our bedroom. We can sometimes see her sleeping or stalking game up on top of the long piece of thick vapour barrier that covers the central beam of our sleeping loft. Sue thinks it’s great sharing her bedchamber with a Rat Snake. She loves snakes. I think it’s okay, mainly because when Ms. Snake is there, Ms. Mouse isn’t.

Every summer we have baby swallows in our boathouse. Up in their nest on the rafters squawking and cheeping for food. One day I was in the boathouse and saw a small Rat Snake slithering around the shelf and wall. The swallows’ parents seemed very upset and I was wondering if the rat snake had anything to do with that. Well, the next day there wasn’t any more noise coming out of the boathouse and when I checked, the fledglings were gone. So I figured the rat snake had chowed down on the babies. And I felt badly for the baby swallows and a bit angry at the snake but then I recalled that we had chowed down on some chicken the night before too, so what could I say? Are there two rules in this world? One rule for us and one for all the other non-human creatures? Sometimes I think many poor humans find there is one rule for them and one rule for the well-off.

I remember, one spring day, performing my annual ritualistic climb down the cliff to the lake so I could get at our recalcitrant water pump. Slithering down the cliff with wrenches, hammer, screwdrivers, foot valve and rope sticking out of my pockets or pushing holes into my Super Saver bag. What a fixer-upper! What a professional!

Anyway, I was balancing on some tippy rocks, trying not to fall in and while I was pulling the rope, which was tied to the intake pipe, I spotted behind me, wedged in and under a big rock, a long rat snake. I was employing the same physical pulling technique that I had used when I was hauling the snake out of the kitchen cupboard. If this was the same snake was she or he having a post traumatic stress attack watching me pull the rope?

Black rat snake climbing the outside wall of cabin. (Photo: Larry Gibbons)The snake didn’t seem upset and therefore I found the snake calming. And I also felt less lonely about being down on this rock by myself. A friendly zone. Because the snake was only about five feet away from me and seemed not a bit alarmed.

I think I’m not very good at fixing things because I can’t concentrate. I get to pondering on other things like, would our world be a better place if it weren’t so easy for humans to own, desecrate and destroy large tracts of this earth? Just because they can afford to, or have the power and the privilege? Those kinds of thoughts.

And then I thought everyone is born into this universe, on this earth satellite and if that’s so then isn’t the earth the only thing that we actually own and without it we have nothing? Not even our lives?

Anyway it made me think that the universe was a better place for me because I got to share a tiny bit of terra firma with the Rat Snake. And it wasn’t pestering me or bullying me or threatening me with no trespassing signs or making me feel guilty about being there. It was just lying there, observing me and being a good neighbour.

Sometimes when I am walking down to my truck I will see a big rat snake sunning him or herself on the side of the lane. The snake doesn’t try to slither away, just lies there and lets me be. Which is terribly tolerant and brave of the snake, seeing that Rat Snakes are a threatened species. And maybe that’s because we humans aren’t. So, it makes me joyful to know that we are sharing a bit of the earth’s surface with Rat Snakes and a lot of other creatures besides.


Frontenac Park and Climate Change

As Herb Helmstaedt was abroad during the last three months, we have substituted the usual President’s Message with a letter from David Crane, Secretary of the Friends of Frontenac.

We cannot pretend that climate change will not affect Frontenac Park, although the manner and degree to which this will occur is still unclear. The Friends of Frontenac should support Ontario Parks in its efforts to understand climate change, mitigate its consequences and adapt our use of the Park to this new reality.

In 1992 the international community created the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to investigate potential climate change. The IPCC produced its first report in 1999 and has updated its findings four times since. Seven predictions were made for North America in their most recent 2007 report; all were stated with a high degree of confidence. One was that warmer summer temperatures will extend the annual fire risk window by 10-30% and encourage species to shift north. The IPCC scientists believe that continuing habitat fragmentation, invasive species and broken ecological connections will rearrange North American ecosystems fundamentally.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in cooperation with the University of Waterloo in 2007 studied how climate change could affect our Provincial Parks, outlining strategies to understand, mitigate and adapt to such changes. Eight parks were included in the study, of which Sandbanks and Algonquin were the closest to us. Average annual temperatures have already increased by 1.14◦C and 0.84◦C in these parks between 1960 and 1990.

The MNR study supports international research and suggests that Ontario average temperatures could rise by a further 3◦C to 5.5◦C by 2080 (think of your children and grandchildren). The ecological consequences at the upper end of this range are difficult to predict; such average temperature probably neither existed here during the last five to ten millions years, nor have they changed so rapidly and are likely to cause dramatic alterations of our environment.

The ecological scenaria painted by the IPCC and MNR reports seem both realistic and plausible. Accordingly;

David Crane


2009 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:Simon Smith
Treasurer: Jim King
Secretary: David Crane
Membership: John Critchley
Publicity: Martha Whitehead
Frontenac Challenge: Anne Hogle
Trail Sweeps: Cathy Murray
Wilderness Skills: Don Stables
Newsletter: Stefan Szrajer


Natural History: Dora Hunter
Winter Camping: Don Stables
Winter Hosting: Cathy Murray
Frontenac Challenge: Anne Hogle, Rose Jones, Erhard Frenzl
Park Management Plan: Paul Vickers
Map Distribution: Cam Hodges
Newsletter Editor: Stefan Szrajer
Newsletter Publisher: Ron Abbott
Web Master: Jérôme McDuff

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:

Tuesday 23-February-2010

Copy should be mailed to: Friends of Frontenac Park, c/o Stefan Szrajer, P.O. Box 2237, Kingston, Ont. K7L 5J9 or sent by e-mail to:

NOTE: You can visit us at:


Membership Matters

Included with the hard copy of this newsletter you will find your renewal form for the 2010-2011 membership year. Please take the time to turn it over and let us know about your interests.

Thanks for your support
John Critchley



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.

*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 7, at 10:30. So come out to Frontenac Park and take the Challenge!

*Monday, January 11: Friends Board Meeting. Location LCVI, Rm. 120 at 19:00

*Saturday, January 16: Winter Camping – Planning. This presentation by the Friends will cover all you need to give winter camping a try. Make sure you book one of the two weekends (see below) to camp with the instructors. Please come dressed for the weather and the trails. Time: 10:00 to 15:30 at the Park Office. To register, contact the Park Office at 376-3489.

*Saturday, January 23: Natural History Walk with Dora Hunter. Meet at the Park Office at 10:00.

*Jan 30-31: Winter Camping Weekend #1 (or Weekend #2 on February 6-7): Choose one of these two weekends to acquire and practice winter camping skills. Food will be provided. Prerequisite - “Winter Camping - Planning” given on January 16. Cost: $60.00 ea. plus interior camping fee; Time: 10:00 Saturday to 15:30 Sunday. To register contact the Park Office at 376-3489.

*February 6-7: Winter Camping Weekend #2. See Above.

*Monday, February 8: Friends Board Meeting. Location LCVI, Rm.120 at 19:00.

*Saturday, February 13: Snowshoe Workshop. This is a snowshoe day for people of all ages and all levels. Mr. Edward Grenda will conduct a workshop that will discuss various topics. A snowshoeing trip will then be held in the Park. Volunteers will serve hot chocolate in front of the fireplace in the Park Office. Please dress in layers for the weather, bring your snowshoe equipment, including a small backpack with water, a hot drink, and lunch. There will be a limited number of snowshoes available for rent. Please meet at the Park Office. Time: 10:30 to 15:30.

*Monday, February 22: Deadline for Submissions for the Spring/Summer Newsletter. We welcome your articles, letters, stories and photographs. Material should be sent to the Friends' address shown on the back page or e mailed to "". For electronic items, please send articles as Microsoft Word files with minimum formatting, and photographs as 180 dpi greyscale. If necessary/possible, please compress (zip) files before sending.

*Wednesday, February 24: Winter Lecture presented by John Donaldson: The Influence of Mackenzie’s “Voyages” on Napoleon’s Plan to Retake New France (Quebec). Please meet at the Wilson Room of the Kingston Public Library (Johnson Street) at 19:00. The presentation should conclude by 21:00. Please see inside this newsletter for details.

*Saturday, February 27: Natural History Walk with Dora Hunter. Meet at the Park Office at 10:00.

*Monday, March 8: Friends Board Meeting. Location LCVI, Rm. 120 at 19:00.

*Saturday, March 27: 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 Park Office. Time: 09:00 to 15:00; Contact the Park (376 3489) for details.

*Saturday, March 27: Natural History Walk with Dora Hunter. Meet at the Park Office at 10:00.

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

*Monday, April 12: Friends Board Meeting. Location LCVI, Rm. 120 at 19:00.

*Saturday, April 17: 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 Park Office at 08:30 to 16:30; Contact the Park (376 3489) for details.

*Sunday, April 18: 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 Park Office at 10:30am and return at approx. 16:00. Bring water, lunch, good walking shoes and lots of questions. Please register with the Park at 376-3489 and plan to go, rain or shine.

*Saturday, April 24: Spring Work Day. Come out and join with the Friends on this day dedicated to work to upgrade the Park’s infrastructure. Contact the Park office at 376 3489 for details or visit our website ( for actual times and further information.

*Saturday, April 24: Natural History Walk with Dora Hunter. Meet at the Park Office at 10:00.

* Monday, May 10: Friends Board Meeting. Location LCVI, Rm. 120 at 19:00.

*Saturday, May 22: Natural History Walk with Dora Hunter. Meet at the Park Office at 10:00.

*June: 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 Park Office. See note in the Spring Newsletter for more details or, visit our website (

*June: President’s Paddle Join the Friends for a canoe trip to one of the campsites in the Park. The flotilla will depart at 10:00am and anticipated return is 16:00. See the note on President’s Paddle in the Spring Newsletter for more details or, visit our website ( or contact the Park at 376-3489 for further information.


Winter Lecture - The Influence of Mackenzie's "Voyages " On Napoleon's Plan to Retake New France (Quebec)

John Donalson and his westie AngusOur 2010 winter lecture will be presented by John Donaldson, author of the Book: A Canoe Quest in the Wake of Canada’s “Prince of Explorers” – One day at a time (Artful Codger Press, Kingston 2006).

John is a neurological biochemist who, at age 60, after a successful academic and industrial career, retraced the canoe voyages of his boyhood hero, the great Scottish-Canadian explorer, Sir Alexander Mackenzie. John’s travels spanned 5 years and took him 12,000 km from Montreal (MacKenzie’s starting point) to the Pacific and Arctic oceans. His talk is based on the experiences and adventures during this memorable trip.

Please join us, Wednesday, February 24th in the Wilson Room of the Kingston Public Library, 130 Johnson Street, 7:00-9:00 p.m., for what is sure to be an entertaining evening of story telling and good company.


Natural History Walks

Birder cartoonby Dora Hunter

Located on the Frontenac Axis, and in a transition zone for the northern range of some plants and the southern range for others, Frontenac Park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. On any day, one might be delighted by an intriguing fungi, a graceful fern, a rare flower, a lilting birdsong, an ancient rock outcrop, or the antics of any one of the Park’s many four-legged critters. If you are interested in hikes with a natural history focus, join the Friends of Frontenac at the Park Trail Centre at 10:00 a.m. on the fourth Saturday of each month to discover the magic of the Park throughout the seasons. Remember to keep the rigours of each season in mind. Dress appropriately, and bring sufficient food and water for your needs. For more information contact the Park office at (613) 376-3489.


Friends of Frontenac Merchandise

After a lull of several years, the Board of the Friends of Frontenac decided to get back into merchandising. This gives us both an opportunity to promote the Park and to raise the much needed funds for our work projects. All our merchandise is available for viewing next time you are at the Park office. We have a wide variety of sizes of T-shirts with either the Frontenac Park logo or the Frontenac Challenge logo. We also have pack badges for both paddlers and hikers. These make great souvenirs of a visit to the Park, and at the same time contribute to its upkeep. And of course, when the warm weather returns, don’t head out into the Park without a supply of deer fly patches. These simple little devices provide an effective solution to one of the very few downsides of summer in Frontenac Park.


Let it Snow!

Ski signs on the corridor trail Photo Stefan Szrajer

Now that the canoe has been safely stored, we can turn our attention to all that the Park has to offer for the coming months. Be sure to check our Outside section for available winter activities. This year the Park will have a limited number of snowshoes for rent on a first come first served basis. Call the Park Office for details.


2009 Challenge

Another successful year for the Frontenac Challenge has come and gone, thanks to the 206 people who accepted the challenge. We have now completed 17 seasons. Despite less than ideal hiking weather in October, we had a record number of 153 people successfully completing the 160 Km challenge. This included 35 hikers completing the Challenge for the first time. It is reassuring to see so many new hikers to supplement the “old guard”, one of whom, Audrey Sanger, has completed all 17 Challenges. Congratulations to all the participants! We hope you will join us next year and bring a friend.


New Information Kiosks and Broken Bridge

Kiosk at Arab Lake Photo Stefan Szrajer

Two new information kiosks at the Arab Lake and Big Salmon Lake parking lots await their finishing touches. These were among several projects completed in 2009 by Parks Management with assistance from the Friends.

Broken bridge at Moulton Gorge - Photo Jerome McDuff

High priority will be given this coming year to the rebuilding of the bridge in the upper Moulton Gorge (Tetsmine Loop), which was recently rendered unusable due to a broken beaver dam. The power of water never stops to amaze.



Patel of West Arkon Lake by Margaret Lock

During the month of November, visitors to Kingston’s Verb Gallery were treated to a collection of pastels from Margaret Lock ( depicting scenes of Frontenac Park.
In this exhibition, Margaret displayed a total of eleven colourful images from various locations along the trails.
Courtesy of Margaret Lock



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 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.