Prince Albert National Park of Canada
Routes to Grey Owl's Cabin
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Old picture of Grey Owl© Parks Canada
"Far enough away to gain seclusion, yet within reach of those whose genuine interest prompts them to make the trip, Beaver Lodge extends a welcome to you if your heart is right."
The Making of Grey Owl
In 1888, Archibald Stansfeld Belaney was born in Hastings, England. As a boy, he fantasized of a life in the wilderness. In 1906, he immigrated to Canada. After working briefly in Toronto he moved to the Temagami area of northern Ontario where he began the way of life he imagined as a boy. Archie met and married an Ojibway woman, Angele Egwuna, who introduced him to the Canadian wilderness and the native way of life. Between 1907 and 1927, with a brief interlude to enlist and serve for Canada in the Great War, Archie lived in northern Ontario making his living as a trapper, guide and forest ranger.
In 1925, he met Gertrude Bernard, a Mohawk woman, whom he called 'Anahareo'. She encouraged him to stop trapping and turn to writing and speaking on behalf of conservation. Archie began publishing his writings on wilderness protection and also adopted the name 'Grey Owl'. The Dominion Parks Service became aware of him and hired him as their first Naturalist. In 1931 a cabin was built on a small lake in Riding Mountain National Park for Grey Owl, Anahareo and their two beavers, Rawhide and Jelly Roll. However, due to unsuitable water conditions, later that year he and his family moved to Ajawaan Lake in Prince Albert National Park.
Grey Owl wrote three best-selling books while he lived in Prince Albert National Park: Pilgrims of the Wild(1934), Sajo and Her Beaver People(1935) and Tales of an Empty Cabin(1936). These books, plus the films produced about Grey Owl and his beavers, not only helped to promote the conservation message, but made him and his cabin, Beaver Lodge, famous. Hundreds of people visited Grey Owl during the summers. In 1935 and 1937, he went to England to promote his books and his ideas of conservation. The demanding pace of several lectures a day exhausted him. In the spring of 1938 he returned to Beaver Lodge, a tired and weakened man. He died in Prince Albert of pneumonia on April 13, 1938 and was buried near his cabin on Ajawaan Lake.
Map of Route to Grey Owl's Cabin
Map of Route to Grey Owl's Cabin© Parks Canada
Trailhead: Kingsmere River parking lot and day use area - 32.5 km from Waskesiu on the Kingsmere Road.
Total Distance One Way: From the parking lot to Grey Owl's cabin - 20 km.
Southend Campground: At 0.3 km from the trailhead there is a branch to the left to reach Southend Campground (1.5 km from the trailhead) or continue to the right for Grey Owl's. Westwind Group Campground: 4 km from the trailhead. Chipewyan Portage Campground: 6.7 km from the trailhead (1 single and 1 double site). Sandy Beach Campground: 12.7 km from the trailhead (1 single and 2 double sites). Northend Campground: 16.7 km from the trailhead. Public camping (2 double sites and 2 single sites) and a group tenting area. Northend Picnic Site: Approximately 250 metres along the beach from the campground. Grey Owl's Cabin: On Ajawaan Lake, 3 km from the Northend picnic site.
Access: Kingsmere River parking lot and day use area - 32.5 km from Waskesiu on the Kingsmere Road. Launch your canoe or kayak from the parking lot and paddle north (upstream) for about 400 metres to the large dock and footbridge. This is the start of the 1 kilometre rail portage that takes you around the rapids. There are two carts available: a larger, four-wheeled unit that can accommodate boats as well as smaller craft, and a two-wheeled one meant specifically for canoes and kayaks. (You may have to go to the other end of the portage to get the rail cart.) Remember to use the handbrakes on the heavier cart and never to allow anyone to ride on any cart. Once on Kingsmere Lake, stay close to the east shore, heading for Westwind Group Campground.
Restrictions: Motorized watercraft on Kingsmere Lake are limited to 40 horsepower or less.
Distances and Campgrounds: The 'Hiking Section' above provides information on distances and campsites. In good weather, allow at least three hours by canoe to cross Kingsmere Lake to the Northend campground. Canoes can be portaged 600 metres into Ajawaan Lake for the completion of the trip to Grey Owl's cabin.
Use great caution on Kingsmere Lake: It is highly recommended that users of nonmotorized watercraft (canoes, kayaks) follow the eastern shoreline.The mood of this large lake is forever changing. Still and glass-like at one moment, it can rapidly become a churning and dangerous body of water. In extremely windy weather, it may be necessary to wait for calmer conditions.
Grey Owl's Cabin
At the site, there are two cabins. The main cabin on the shoreline was built in 1931. The upper cabin was built in 1932 for Anahareo, their daughter Shirley Dawn, and visitors. Grey Owl, Anahareo and Shirley Dawn are buried adjacent to the upper cabin in a small graveyard overlooking Ajawaan Lake.
Picture of Grey Owl© Parks Canada
"Remember you belong to Nature, not it to you"
The trip to Grey Owl's cabin is much more than a hike. It is a pilgrimage that may bring you closer to Grey Owl's message of conservation. Take some time to reflect on his efforts to reach a society which, year after year, moved further from nature.
May your visit to this wilderness sanctuary help your understanding of this man and the message of wilderness preservation.
- All overnight visitors must register at the Information Centre in Waskesiu prior to their trip. A park use permit will be issued and backcountry camping fees apply.
- All garbage must be packed out of the backcountry.
- Use bear caches for all food, garbage and toiletries.
- Use only wood provided at the campgrounds, do not gather deadfall, and remember to bring an axe.
- Pit privies are located at the campgrounds. Pit privies may also be used for the disposal of grey water.
- Water is obtained from the lake - boiling before use is recommended.
- A National Park fishing licence is required by anglers. Available at the Information Centre, entry gates or any campground kiosk. Lake Trout endorsement available only at the Information Centre in Waskesiu or at South Gate.
- Registered backcountry campers are permitted to deposit fish offal into Kingsmere Lake at a minimum depth of 6 metres (20 feet.
- Before starting your trip, please read the 'You are in Black Bear Country' brochure available at all park offices.
For more information:
Prince Albert National Park
General Information Line:
Old Grey's Cabin© Parks Canada
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