Welcome To The Website of the
Upper French River Cottagers Association
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. To contact the UFRCA about any issue or to make inquiries, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Update on OPP in West Nipissing
Posted September 11, 2018
The provision of contract policing in West Nipissing by the OPP moved another step closer recently. The Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC – the provincial body that reviews and approves these types of decisions) has approved the town’s application to disband the West Nipissing Police Service and enter into a contact for service with the OPP.
The WN Police Services Board is continuing to fight against this move. Earlier this year, the Board applied to Ontario Superior Court for a judicial review of the decision and in the meantime had actively lobbied the OCPC to delay its decision until the Court had ruled.
In issuing its own decision, the OCPC categorically rejected the Police Service Board’s actions and noted a Court decision from a few years ago in Kenora where similar issues were in play, and which included the statement: “it is legally inconsistent for a police services board to have jurisdiction to decide to disband when it plays no role in selecting the manner of service delivery.” That statement is consistent with the Municipality’s own position, which is that it has sole decision-making power (subject to review and approval by the OCPC) on what form policing services should take.
Superior Court is scheduled to hear the application from the Police Board on October 10 and the UFRCA will keep you posted on the Court’s decision.
Restricted Fire Zone Ended
Posted August 24, 2018
MNRF has ended the restricted fire zone status for Northeastern Ontario and West Nipissing has lifted the ban on open burning. Caution is still advised.
Posted Aug. 14, 2018
Long time Sandy Island cottager and former UFRCA Board member Jim Hardy died recently on August 2. The UFRCA extends its sincere condolences to Carol and the Hardy family. The obituary may be viewed here.
Posted Aug. 14, 2018
The Annual General Meeting was held successfully at the Dokis Community Complex, and the UFRCA thanks the Dokis community for hosting our event and providing a huge breakfast buffet. Highlights of the meeting were presentations from Ontario Firefighters with updates on the nearby Parry Sound 33 fire, Mayor Joanne Savage, and the announcement of the 2018 photo contest winners. Winning photos have been posted in the Photo Gallery. Elected to the Board of Directors for the 2018-19 season were (returning) Sam Goodwin, Jeff Hamilton, and Amanda Derks; and new members Jeanie Palmer, Bonnie Witmer, Jane-Anne Steele, and John Bachia. Minutes of the AGM will be posted when available.
AGM August 5 at Dokis
Full information about the AGM is below the fire reports. If you are travelling on Hwy. 69 or 11/17 in the North Bay area this weekend, you may encounter smoke and reduced visibility depending on wind direction. This applies to area waterways such as Lake Nipissing and the Upper French.
All Open Fires Banned In Restricted Fire Zone
First Posted July 5, 2018
Last updated Aug. 21, 2018
Fires continue to burn in NE Ontario and local municipalities and MNRF have banned all open burning. Northeastern Ontario has been declared a restricted fire zone by MNRF and this includes both north and south sides of the Upper French. Fires in the Temagami region resulted in evacuations, and two provincial parks were closed. In the Upper French region, a fire was started by lightning on July 10 on the north shore of Marshy Bay. Todd Thomas from Sandy Haven responded and was first on the scene. The West Nipissing Fire Department took over and that fire is now out. An Ontario MNRF interactive fire location map is available here. The fire referenced as "Parry Sound 33" at Henvey Inlet and the Key River, just south of the French River, spread heavy smoke throughout the French River and Lake Nipissing region on Thursday July 19, driven by a gusty SW wind. The wind shifted to the SE and the smoke cleared on July 20. As Parry Sound 33 gained in size, many people were evacuated from areas west of Hwy. 69 from Key Harbor to the northern boundary of French River Provincial Park. French River Park was closed completely (no overnight permits issued).
July 31 note: Smoke was very heavy on parts of Hwy. 69 and spread to the NE thorough the Upper French region. Val at Riverview reported heavy smoke in the Dokis area, but cottagers and the Dokis community carried on as normal. Smoke was very noticeable in North Bay and on Lake Nipissing. See the Lake Nipissing Web Cam on the menu at right, which showed reduced visibility due to smoke. According to the MNRF fire web site, Parry Sound 33 increased to over 10,000 ha. Reports indicated it was within 5 km of the Hwy. 69 and 1 km from the Pickerel River. A precautionary evacuation alert was issued for Alban. The possible closing of Hwy. 69 was discussed by OPP, but it was not implemented.
Aug. 1 The fire was remapped more accurately, and it's size was measured at over 11,000 ha, although it did not spread further.
August 11 Update: Parry Sound 33 was described as "being held". A new fire in the Upper French area started by lightning on July 10 approximately 5 km NW of Riverview. It wasa declared 'out' the following day.
The Key River Association web site provides local news. Click on their Facebook Page and look for the Nightly Forest Fire Update.
Nugget Aug. 21, 2018 - Some restrictions removed; situation improves
Nugget Aug. 14, 2018 - Major fires being held
CWFIS Aug. 2, 2018 - Current map of fire boundary
Weather Network July 31, 2018 - With Map Showing Fire Location
CBC News July 31, 2018 - Fire Closer to 69 and Pickerel River
Nugget July 31, 2018 - New Minister of Natural Resources
Nugget July 31, 2018 - Smoke causing air quality problems
CBC News July 30, 2018 - Update
CBC News July 29, 2018 - Parry Sound 33 Grows to Over 8000 ha
CBC News July 28, 2018 - Fire advance slows
CBC News July 28, 2018 - Property Damage Will Be In Millions
Nugget July 27, 2018 - Major Fires Remain Out Of Control
Nugget July 26, 2018 - Rain Helps - but …
CBC News July 24, 2018 - Wind farm construction may be cause
North Bay Nugget July 24, 2018 - Park Closed West of Hwy. 69
North Bay Nugget July 22, 2018 - Fires surge
CBC News July 21, 2018 - Fire at Key Harbor
North Bay Nugget July 21, 2018 - MNRF expands evacuation area
North Bay Nugget July 21, 2018 - Fire spreads to FR Provincial Park
North Bay Nugget July 20, 2018 - Key Harbor urged to evacuate
North Bay Nugget July 4, 2018 - Fire Bans across region
North Bay Nugget July 4, 2018 - Active Fires in the northeast
Coming up - It’s the 2017-18 AGM! Sunday August 5, 2018
Posted June 7, 2018
We’re looking forward to seeing you at the Annual General Meeting of the Upper French River Cottagers Association on Sunday, August 5, 2018. New members are always welcome.
With this notice are two PDFs for you to download and review in advance:
1. The Draft AGM Agenda for the 2017-18 AGM meeting, combined with the draft minutes of the 2016-17 AGM (all in one PDF file). Please review the minutes from last year.
2. A Proxy Form – Should you not be able to attend the meeting and want another member to vote on your behalf, please complete this form. The instructions on where to send the proxy form are included.
Here’s what you need to know about the AGM:
The location is the Dokis Community Complex. The business meeting will be from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. – including this year’s exciting photo-contest results. Come early (but not earlier than 10:00, please) to socialize with friends and cottage neighbours.
Registrations/membership renewals are available starting at 10:00 a.m. (that’s if you haven’t already registered by mail or online, which we always appreciate since it reduces the amount of work/need for volunteers at the AGM.) Note that membership fees are now due for the new membership year July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. See the Membership Info and Form pages at left.
Getting to the Dokis Community Complex – starting at 10:00 a.m., there will be shuttle vans to take members to and from both Dokis Marina and Riverview. Or, if you’re driving from Riverview, it’s a right turn at the helicopter pad. Or a left turn, if you’re coming from Dokis Marina.
Light refreshments will be provided. New members are always welcome. For further information, contact email@example.com
Alexandria Boire - 1947-2018
The UFRCA extends its condolences to Peter Boire and family following the recent passing of Alexandria in early July. Peter and Alex were cottagers for many years on the Upper French. The obituary may be viewed here.
West Nipissing Switching to OPP
Posted May 4, 2018
Updated June 12, 2018
Updated July 13, 2018
WN Police Chief Chuck Seguin announced his resignation effective July 3. See Police chief resigning - June 12, 2018 Nugget
Municipality of West Nipissing’s change to OPP policing is continuing despite a court challenge from the police services board. The changeover is expected to be completed by October, 2018.
Decisision to be delayed - July 13, 2018 Nugget
West Nipissing proceeding – May 4, 2018 Nugget
Police Board takes council to court – May 2, 2018 Nugget
West Nipissing going with OPP – December 6, 2018 Nugget
Chief Seguin will stay for now - October 6, 2017 Nugget
The Fire Ban has been lifted as of June 1
Complete Fire Ban In Effect as of May 17, 2018
Posted May 25, 2018
Updated May 31, 2018
The West Nipissing Fire and Emergency Service has issued a complete fire ban for West Nipissing. All burning permits are now suspended until further notice. Campfires for cooking or warmth are excluded from the ban. A complete fire ban is also in effect for North Bay due to the fire hazard rating being moderate to high across the region.
It's Membership Renewal Time
Posted May 25, 2018
Current members have recently received the membership form for 2018-19 by mail. See the Membership Information and Membership Form pages on the menu at left. Choice 1: You can print a membership form and mail it in with a cheque. Choice 2: You can submit the on-line form and pay by credit card through PayPal or by Interac E-transfer from any Canadian financial institution. We always welcome new members.
Posted May 18, 2018
The Spring newsletter was distributed yesterday to all current UFRCA members. If you should have received it but did not, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The newsletter is posted in "Newsletters" and members can log in to view it there.
May 16 Update on Lake Levels
Here’s the latest information on lake levels as of May 16, based on information provided to the Sturgeon-Nipissing-French Stakeholder Committee (of which UFRCA is a member) by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Public Works and Government Services Canada.
The ice is officially off the lake and all the snow in the watershed (which extends of north of Lake Temagami) is now melted.
Lake levels have risen slightly in the last day or so and are now getting near to the upper end of the summer operating range. They are not expected to rise much more over the next few days and may actually decrease somewhat. That’s because inflows to the lake have decreased significantly over the past few days and are expected to decrease further because (a) the spring runoff is almost done and (b) the weather is predicted to be dry for the next couple of weeks. No precipitation is anticipated for the next five days, and there are no major weather systems in the forecast for the next two weeks. This means that outflows from the lake will probably continue to go down over this period.
As a precautionary measure, to protect lake levels in the longer term, MNRF and PWGSC have slightly reduced the outflow to the Lower French River in the last couple of days. This has caused some concern on the part of fishing camps on the Lower French about the impact that lower levels there could have on spawning. MNRF and PWGSC indicated they are keeping the dam outflows at the current level for at least a week to allow for spawning but will be monitoring Lower River levels on a daily basis.
For UFRCA members, the key message is that so long as precipitation remains normal for the spring and summer (not unusually dry or wet over a sustained period), we should be looking at relatively normal lake levels for the summer operating season.
Very Dry Conditions
Posted May 16, 2018
Very dry conditions have resulted in a ban on open burning in the North Bay area. This will be updated if West Nipissing and/or MNRF also announce bans on open burning. Even if there is no actual ban, be extremely cautious at the cottage or in the bush. Fire permits are required in West Nipissing when there is no fire ban.
Is Lake Nipissing Ice-free?
Posted May 14, 2018
Updated May 16, 2018.
YES! Officially the date for 2018 is May 14.
Watch for the official announcement soon. Unfortunately, the NASA Worldview satellite image today (May 14) was slightly obscured by a bit of thin cloud, but it appears that any significant ice has disappeared.
See the Nugget article May 16, 2018
Dry Spring Equals Heightened Forest Fire Risk
Posted May 14, 2018
How quickly conditions change! The trees have not yet flushed yet and ground conditions are becoming quite dry. If you are planning to open the cottage in the next few weeks, be aware of the heightened fire risk. Currently there are 10 active fires in the northeast region. See the May 14 Nugget article.
Walleye Spawning Underway - late spring not a concern
Posted May 13, 2018
See the North Bay Nugget article here.
May 11 Update from the Sturgeon-Nipissing-French Group
Posted May 11, 2018
The level for the lake today may be seen on this graph issued by PWC (Public Works Canada) who maintain and regulate the Chaudiere Dams. Significant on the graph are two red lines, one dotted and one solid, and the green vertical axis scale on the left side. The dotted red line is the goal, while the solid red line is the actual level. Two solid lines, one light purple and the other light blue) bracket the target tange. The summer target range is between 195.75 and 195.95 metres above sea level (masl). This graph illustrates the late but rapid increase in the lake level due to the prolonged cold weather in April and early May coupled with the late spring freshet. The level today is 195.80 masl - now within the summer target range. Note that the level of the lake is measured to the top surface which includes the remaining ice. PWC is predicting that with current rates of inflow and outflow and weather forecasts, the lake could be at flood level of 196.1 masl by May 29.
Foggy North Bay Waterfront
Posted May 10, 2018
Temperature +5 C; visibility 30 m (thick fog).
Update on Spring Freshet: Lake Nipissing Ice-Off and Water Levels - Elevated Risk Over the Next Few Days
Posted May 9, 2018
There is still significant ice on the Lake but it should be pretty much gone in the next two days. But between now and when the ice is out, there could be problems.
Because of the late ice, in combination with the late freshet, people on the Lake are looking at an elevated risk of damage over the next couple of days. Here’s why.
Precipitation this spring and winter has been within normal levels based on long-term historical averages. But normally the spring melt/freshet would have started sooner, which gives the Ministries that control the dams more time to manage flows and keep the levels from getting too high.
This year, the freshet is happening in a more compressed timeframe – the same historical volume of water coming into the Lake but in a shorter timeframe. That means it’s harder this year for the Ministries to keep up with the inflows without completely flooding out the Lower French River.
In the past, when there has been an elevated risk of damage at this point in the spring, it was usually just because of high water levels – since the ice would be long gone.
Thus, for the next few days, the risk of damage is due to the combination of high water and late ice. The level on Lake Nipissing on May 9 is 195.75 metres above sea level – right at the summer level. The NASA Worldview satellite image shows extensive ice coverage – although decidedly grey.
When we get more news in the next day or two, we’ll post it here. The temperature in North Bay today (May 9) was 25C and there is rain in the forecast for May 10. The ice should be gone in a few days.
Spring Freshet Underway
Posted May 7, 2018
Police Chief Seguin to remain until policing decision is made
Posted October 6, 2017
The Municipality of West Nipissing is once again studying the feasibility of switching from the local West Nipissing Police Service to the OPP. This has been a contentious issue for Upper French River Cottagers for many years, as it has meant dealing with two police services for different issues and depending on whether one's cottage location is on the north side of the river (Bertram Township - West Nipissing) or the south side (unorganized townships in Parry Sound District). Current WNP Chief Seguin, slated to retire, will stay in his position until a decision is made and/or a new chief is hired. For the North Bay Nugget article, click here
When will the ice be off Lake Nipissing?
Posted April 28, 2018
Updated May 3, 2018
April 28 is a significant date. It is the average date that Lake Nipissing has been declared ice free since record keeping began in 1901. Some may think that the ‘average date’ is the most usual occurrence or what’s expected, but that is a misunderstanding. In fact, April 28 has been the official ice-free date only seven times. Not exactly a common occurrence.
The winter of 2017-18 has been unusual, as most know, and the result was very thick ice on area lakes. There were extended periods of extreme cold, several rain events, a drought of snow in March, and abundant snow and below normal temperatures in April. This was to the delight of area skiers who enjoyed an extended spring skiing season – the best ever! But for cottagers who have been looking forward to an early season escape, you will have to wait. Lake Nipissing and the Upper French are encased in thick ice, and today, the North Bay area is receiving a bit of fresh snow along with below average temperatures. A warming trend is in the forecast early May.
To view the lake from space, see this NASA Worldview satellite image which is updated daily with a new image. Check the date in the bottom left corner and reset to the current date. Zoom in and around to locate the Great Lakes and Lake Nipissing. On a clear day, Lake Nipissing is very visible, and with a bit of imagination you can determine the status of the Upper French: dark black indicates open water. (Of interest, note the green algal bloom covering most of Lake Erie. This has been in the news and a cause for concern for the last few years.) If you check this web site frequently, you can click through daily images and witness the transition from white to grey to black as the ice recedes from the lake.
When will Nipissing be ice free? We are predicting that May 10 will be the official date this year. See the historical record of ice free dates here.
Posted April 9, 2018
The UFRCA expresses its profound sympathies to the Rooney and Chirico families after the recent passing of Laurie Rooney, wife of UFRCA Board Member and Treasurer Peter Rooney. Laurie was a long-time cottager on the Upper French and will be missed. The obituary may be seen here.
DEADLINE APRIL 15 FOR THE UFRCA PHOTO CONTEST
ACT NOW AND DON'T BE DISAPPOINTED!
2018 UFRCA Photo Contest
Posted February 13, 2018
The 2018 UFRCA Photo Contest is now on. There is no better time than during the cold days of winter to search our photos and remind ourselves of the past great summer on the French River! The April 15 deadline will be here before we know it in just 2 months.
We are asking cottagers to dig through those great cottage memories and forward photos to our panel of volunteer judges. As in prior years there will be three categories. Every year we have Nature and French River Life and for 2018, the special category will be “Oh No” photos. Did your boat sink? Did a tree come down? Did your husband take apart the pump and not remember how to put it back together? That’s the sort of thing we’re looking for. Photos may be entered until April 15, 2018. They should be sent as attachments to email@example.com
Entry Limit - three photos per photographer, no limit per cottage.
When submitting photos include:
a) the UFRCA name associated with the photo
b) the full name and address for each photographer
c) good quality JPEG photo attachments, 10 MB max file size
d) MOST IMPORTANTLY, which category each photo is to be entered: Nature, French River Life, or “Oh No”
Any photo can be entered except those entered in previous UFRCA photo contests.
The Photo Contest awards announcements and video displays have been highlights of the last several AGMs. Let’s repeat that in 2018. See the 2017 Photo Contest winners in the Gallery.
Positives for Fishery Management
Posted May 25, 2017
A May 16 North Bay Nugget article outlining the current state of the Lake Nipissing walleye fishery is available here.
A major study entitled Achieving a Sustainable Lake Nipissing Walleye Fishery, produced by Doris Smith for the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, was released today (May 25) and is available here. Thank you to Paul Cormier for his contribution in representing the UFRCA among the many stakeholders. Today's press release from the NBDCC is available here.
The response from a variety of local stakeholders was reported in the June 23 North Bay Nugget and may be seen here.
Thanks to Kathy LaBranche for sending this image she discovered in Banff. Click on the image to enlarge, and "think about summer".
More on the West Nipissing Spending Scandal
Posted November 20, 2016
Also see reports below in September News.
Closing the cottage routines - keep potential thieves in mind
Originally 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.
West Nipissing Scandal Results in OPP Charges
Posted September 14, 2016
Allegations of spending irregularities by some West Nipissing Municipality officials have resulted in charges being laid by the OPP. Bay Today Report
EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS
Posted July 15, 2016
As a follow-up to our recent bulletin on Emergency Services on the Upper French River, UFRCA received some inquiries about specific phone numbers that people can call in the event of medical, police, and fire emergencies. In response, we put together the attached document which provides additional detail and phone numbers. The first page of the attachment is for residents of the Municipality of West Nipissing (Bertram Township). The second page is for residents of the Unorganized District of Centre Parry Sound (the south side of the river in Hardy and Patterson Townships).
A key distinction between the two areas is that in the Unorganized District of Centre Parry Sound there is no 911 service on land lines. In a medical emergency, cottagers in the Unorganized District of Centre Parry Sound would need to call EMS directly and we have provided 1-800 numbers for this purpose. In a policing emergency, you would need to call the OPP directly and their central dispatch number is provided as well.
Just a few more very important points that EMS officials asked us to stress:
- Always make sure you know or have on hand your cottage GPS coordinates and, for those in West Nipissing, your municipal address (that's the little blue sign – for example “WB212-1”)
- Keep them by the phone and make sure everyone (family and guests) knows where they are.
- Educate family and guests on what to do in an emergency and where the closest land access/marina is.
- If you are not at your cottage when you make an emergency call (for example – a cell phone from a boat) you should try to have some way to determine your GPS coordinates.
To view the document, click Users Summary July 2016.pdf
Crime Stoppers Doubles Rewards
Posted June 15, 2016
There have been numerous break-ins on the Upper French over the past winter and spring. As a result, Near North Crime Stoppers have doubled their rewards for information. For the press release issued June 15, click double reward june 2016.pdf
Pictograph on Kennedy Island
Posted June 8, 2016
In the 1980s, a field archeologist with the Ontario government researched and published a paper on the pictograph located on Kennedy Island. To view the document go to History - Local Area History http://ufrca.com/index.php?page=local-area-history and scroll down to Historical Importance. Thanks to Holly Waters for discovering this document.
Dokis First Nation Power Generating Station on Facebook
Posted April 11, 2016
For some wonderful aerial photography of Dokis First Nation and their new power generating station view the video below.