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Contract: Nov 2015 Nov 2015



Welcome To The Website of the
Upper French River Cottagers Association


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The French River is located in Ontario, Canada, and defines the boundary between Parry Sound and Nipissing Districts. The French River flows southwest from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay. The "Upper" French River lies between Lake Nipissing and the Chaudiere Dams at Dokis First Nation. An historic First Nation and fur trade canoe route, the French River is now a Provincial Park, the home to citizens of Dokis First Nation, and the summer residence of hundreds of cottagers.

The Members menu (at left) displays Membership Information and Form, but more options are available when members Log In.


November News

Photo Contest 2016
Details for the 2016 annual UFRCA photo contest are now posted. See the Events page.

Upcoming Newsletter
The next newsletter will be distributed on December 1 to current UFRCA members.

Watkins Cottage Lightning Strike and Fire
Several photos from the July 31 lightning strike and fire at the Watkins cottage are now posted. See below and also in the Photo Gallery.

October News

October Newsletter and Memberships 
Current members received the first newsletter of the season on October 19. Note that this was sent by e-mail to those members who have paid their membership fees for 2015-16. Returning and new members are always welcome. Membership forms are available in the Members menu at the left, but contact if you have any concerns or inquiries. Past newsletters are available for view in the Members-only section of the web site. Members must log in to view those pages.

Draft AGM Minutes now posted
The Draft Minutes from the AGM held on August 2, 2015, have now been posted in the Members' section of the website.

Break-ins reported
Unfortunately, we have heard reports that there have been break-ins occurring in the Sandy Island and Blueberry Island areas. The police have been informed.

September News

Closing the cottage routines - keep potential thieves in mind
Posted September 24, 2015

West Nipissing Police have sent this communication as a reminder to keep would-be thieves in mind when closing for the winter. And reduce off-season environmental damage by following many common sense suggestions. To view, click here.

July 31 Storm
On the afternoon of Friday July 31, a series of intense electrical storms passed through the area. Below are accounts of two lightning strikes and the resulting volunteer efforts to deal with them.

Lightning strike and fire at the Watkins’ cottage
Posted September 8, 2015
Contributed by Amy Watkins

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On July 31, 2105, while sitting on our porch, lightning struck a tree 30 feet away from us. Flames rose immediately and we evacuated the cottage because the fire was only a couple of feet from our propane tanks. We went through the woods to my parents’ cottage to get to a phone (ours had exploded and melted from the strike). Their phone was out as well. We left our daughter and dogs to return to our cottage to see how bad things were. The flames were 6 to 8 feet high so we went into the cottage to get our passports.

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We heard a loud noise of gas escaping from the propane tanks that sounded similar to the noise of a jet engine. We returned to the woods again just as one of the tanks exploded, sending a fireball 50 feet into the air. We estimate the time between the strike and explosion was no more than 10 to 15 minutes. At this time, family and friends had heard and seen flames and had come to our aid.

Scott Jones from Riverview (while transporting people to Riverview) happened to be driving past, saw the flames, and was able to radio Riverview to get their fire pumps on the way to our cottage. Until the fire equipment and personnel arrived, we kept others away because of the potential for the other propane tanks to explode.

We had minor cottage damage including some siding and trim blown off with the strike. The phone lines scorched some places inside, a floor joist was blown apart where the outside box is attached, and the strike also started fires west of the cottage. One propane tank exploded, one “vented” and ignited, and the Dokis Fire Department stabilized the third tank.

We are thankful that no one was hurt. Thank you to all our friends and family who helped out during the event – the Allison, Stanislau, Lembke, Robinson, Sumner, Kutzner, and Marcus families, and some young men from Solid Comfort. Thank you to Scott Jones from Riverview and the Dokis FD crew: Gerry Duquette, Carl Hill, Jean-Marc Ethier, and Fire Chief Brian Lariviere.

Fire Near West End of Sandy Island

It was the same day and the same storm that resulted in the fire at the Watkins’ cottage. Late in the afternoon/early evening on July 31, 2015, lightning struck the trees on an uninhabited island near the west end of Sandy Island not far from Wigwam. A neighbouring cottager noticed the smoke and called it in to Todd Thomas, the owner and operator of Sandy Haven Fishing Camp.  Todd and another volunteer immediately loaded the fire pump and equipment into a boat and “attended” the fire, as they say in the firefighting business. The lightning had badly damaged one tree and the adjoining trees had begun to smoulder.  The volunteers from Sandy Haven used the pump to good effect and remained on the scene to ensure there was no risk of further damage. 

As UFRCA members know, Todd/Sandy Haven Camp is one of the organizations, along with Riverview Marina and the Dokis Fire Department, that cottagers call on in time of need. In Todd’s case, he coordinates his volunteer efforts with the Municipality of West Nipissing. The Fire Department there provides the water pump and other firefighting equipment and depending on the location and availability, Todd is likely to be the first responder. Todd also provides a limited emergency first response capacity. To this end, the Municipality provides him with a defibrillator, a stretcher, and a professional quality first aid kit, and Todd brings extensive training in emergency first aid. 

This is the first full cottage season that this arrangement between West Nipissing and Sandy Haven (spurred on by the UFRCA) has been in place. The summer of 2014 was only a partial season due to delays in the delivery of equipment. Most fortunately, this first full season was a quiet one. Only a few fishhooks to remove, according to Todd.

But as with the team from Riverview and the Dokis Fire Department, this kind of volunteer service to our collective cottage community is not something that UFRCA members take for granted. We all appreciate that the “other side of the coin” to the River’s wild beauty is a degree of isolation and vulnerability. The UFRCA says thanks to Todd for his ongoing efforts and commitment.


August News

Chaudière Lodge Fish Fry: A great time was had by all
Updated August 27, 2015

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Great food, terrific music, perfect weather, a beautiful venue, and good friends. 

That’s what UFRCA members and other guests experienced on Saturday August 8 at the Chaudière Lodge Fish Fry.  The event was the brainchild of Chaudière owner and operator Steve Niedzwiecki and the UFRCA’s own Bill Diehl, with additional support from the UFRCA Board and in particular Jeff Hamilton, the Chair of our Social Committee.  
Steve and the staff of Chaudière really pulled out all of the stops for us, meeting guests at the docks, parking boats (as well as mooring them out in the bay because of the size of the crowd/number of boats), and giving everyone a warm and enthusiastic welcome.  The food was fantastic and plentiful – with fresh fried fish and fresh cut fries (say that 10 times fast…) prepared right in front of everyone on an open-hearth kitchen, along with a large spread of beans, salads, delicious desserts, and cold drinks.
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As everyone ate, they were entertained by Derek Restoule who is not only the owner and operator of the Dokis Marina, but is also a very talented musician with a great voice.  Derek was joined by other talented performers including Steve N. and Lilianne Murdoch. And as the music played, people had a chance to stroll through the well-kept grounds and to check on the latest menu at Chaudière’s wonderful restaurant.
(Liliane Murdoch is a rising star in Canada on the music scene. Here’s the official video of Liliane singing live with her 7-person blues band “Citrus Club” on the main stage on July 4 at the 2015 Montreal International Jazz Festival in front of 14,000 people:
This was truly one of those memorable events – a rare chance to be together as a cottage community to meet old friends, make new ones, and just shoot the breeze on a warm summer afternoon and evening.  We are all very grateful to Steve and the staff of Chaudière and to Bill and Jeff for all of their hard work.
Thanks to Jeannette Fox for providing photos from the August 8 Fish Fry Social at Chaudière Lodge. See the Photo Gallery.

Best AGM Ever
Updated August 27, 2015

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Thanks to all of our members who were able to come to this year’s Annual General Meeting at Solid Comfort Fish Club on August 2.  According to many who were there, it was the most fun AGM we have had in years.  Part of the thanks for this has to go to our special guest Dr. Françoise Noël, who gave a fascinating talk on the modern history of Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River, including the rise of cottaging and tourism in general.  After the meeting, Dr. Noël made arrangements to have more of her books (NIPISSING – Historic Waterway, Wilderness Playground) available for sale at the store at Riverview.
Thanks also to Chief Denis Restoule of Dokis First Nation for spending time with us and providing an update on the impressive range of activities now underway in that community.  This, of course, is Chief Denise’s final term and all wished her very well.  Thanks, too, to Jeff Hamilton for making this year’s photo contest so entertaining.  It was great to see so many entries this year and congratulations again to winners and to all participants.
And, finally, a most heartfelt thanks from all of us to the Solid Comfort Fishing Club.  Club President Joe Ray and the Club members who were present took special care to make this a memorable event for us, including assisting with boats, setting us up in the lovely main dining hall, providing delicious snacks, and even offering a tour of the property.  All of those in attendance (over 75) appreciated the warm welcome and the opportunity to become more familiar with this very stunning and historic spot. 

See photos from the AGM in the Photo Gallery.

Fishing News - Commercial Fishery To Be Closed
Posted August 19. 2015

See this breaking news at 

Photo Contest Winners
Posted August 6, 2015

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Photo Contest. The images are posted in the Photo Gallery. Thanks to organizer Jeff Hamilton and to the judges for a great event.