While driving along Highway #11, about forty-five kilometres north of the city of North Bay Ontario, you will come across a sign marking the turn off for Beaverland Road. Make the turn, and after a short drive along the relatively narrow gravel road, you will arrive in Beaverland Camp.
Nestled within the Nipissing Crown Game Preserve, Beaverland Camp began life in 1901 as a logging camp, until being transformed into a fishing lodge by George Hughes in 1927. Needless to say, it’s been many years since this area has seen any logging activity, and fortunately the loggers missed a few, because it’s still possible to find some small groves of the magnificent 300 year old white pines, that once covered much of the area.
While the Camp has undergone a number of changes over the years, the relaxed atmosphere and pace of Camp life has remained relatively unchanged, and although they have been updated, several of the original 1901 buildings and cabins are still in service. Change comes slowly to Beaverland Camp -which suits me and many other repeat guests just fine.
That said, one of the most significant and forward thinking changes has been the conversion of two cabins into fully handicap accessible units. Other lodges and camps should take note and follow Beaverland's lead, because they are well ahead of the curve when it comes to accommodating, and making all of their guests feel welcome.
When you arrive in the spring, just after walleye season opens, the Camp has a definite “old time” fish camp feel to it, and although usually booked at or near capacity, it never seems crowded. The only place that attracts a crowd of any kind is the screened in fish cleaning hut.
In July and August, families on their summer holidays will have replaced most of the hard-core fishermen. I have visited with my family during the summer months on several occasions, and always found plenty to do in and around Camp to keep everyone occupied. You can take your family fishing, on a canoe trip along the river, or just pack a lunch and visit one of many great picnic/swimming locations scattered throughout the water system.
If you visit in early August, load everyone into a boat and head over to Pickerel Island for some wild blueberry picking. There are usually plenty to go around, and they will certainly take the taste of your morning cereal or pancakes up a notch or two.
Although the Camp is located on the Marten River, guests have direct water access to four lakes. “Big” and “Little” Marten Lakes both offer very good lake trout, walleye and small mouth bass fishing. Bruce Lake consistently produces good numbers of walleye together with pike and bass, and last, but certainly not least, McPhee Lake. While McPhee can be a bit finicky at times, when it turns on it is definitely the place to be for both numbers, and trophy size walleye. There is also good fishing for walleye on the river, both up and downstream from Camp.
If you’re interested in doing some exploring off the main water system, there is easy road access to Wicksteed Lake, a large man made lake that has decent pike fishing, and walleye in good numbers. From Bruce Lake, it’s a relatively short portage into O’Shea Lake. O’Shea has been hailed as one of the top places in Ontario to fish for small mouth bass, and I can tell you from experience, you will not be disappointed. The Camp keeps a canoe on the lake for their guests, so all you need take along is your rod and reel, some live bait, and/or a pocket full of jig heads and crayfish coloured grubs.
Accommodations are either in one of many clean and well-maintained cabins scattered over the 10½ acre grounds, or in one of two motel style units, that feature screened in porches, and a great view of the river. All the cabins/units are set up for housekeeping, and come fully equipped with fridges, stoves, pots, pans dishes, and pretty much everything you will need to prepare your meals, including propane BBQ’s. Most have indoor plumbing, and for those few that don’t, there are common shower and washroom facilities very close at hand.
Once you have figured out the cost of a trip to Beaverland Camp you are going to be in for a pleasant surprise. Our seven day trip in 2014 cost each member of our ten person group $320, including food. While your costs will vary, depending on your choice of accommodation, the size of your group, boat and motor rentals and the like, all in all you will be hard pressed to find better value.
I have been returning to Beaverland Camp together with a group of friends and family for forty consecutive years, and if all goes well, we will be heading back again this spring. By any measure it’s a long time to be going back to the same place, so you might be inclined to ask - why Beaverland?
For some, it’s the fishing and a chance to leave the world behind for a few days. Others enjoy the companionship, and the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. Or perhaps it’s remembering that perfectly still evening as you quietly pulled up to the dock just as the sun was setting, and got a faint whiff of someone’s wood burning stove, while being serenaded by a chorus of frogs and crickets.
When I began writing this piece I asked some of the current members of our crew to reflect on, and tell me what keeps drawing them back year after year, and without a doubt the best reason of all was:
“I love the chance it gives me to go fishing with my dad.”
And that. in my view captures the essence of what Beaverland Camp is all about.
Authors Note: Beaverland Camp is where you will find the “real” Cabin 14, which has been the backdrop, and provided much of the inspiration for many of the stories in my book Tales from Cabin 14 and other exotic places...