help_outline Skip to main content
Date: 10/6/2018
Subject: October 2018 e-Newsletter
From: Lambton Outdoor Club

Lambton Outdoor Club
  October 2018 e-Newsletter

President's 1st Message

When I accepted your nomination at our recent AGM to assume the role and responsibilities of Club President, I did so with some modesty given my relatively short tenure within the organization. In case anyone is wondering how in fact I rose so quickly to this level, here’s the reason. I guess I’ve never learned how to say “No” when asked to help. After only one year with the Club, I was asked to take over as chair of the cycling committee - even though I had only been seriously cycling for about one year. While it took a little time to help organize and schedule cycling rides for the Club, it seemed to work out quite well and so I continued for another year.

Just after that, I was asked to help by filling the vacant position of Vice-President to assist Mike Tanner who was entering his third and final year as President. Not long after that, I volunteered to join a small committee to help develop a much-needed replacement for our website. Finally, I joined a small team to help design, produce and market our amazing new cycling jerseys.  Why am I mentioning all that? Here’s my point. Even though I had relatively little experience with the Club, and even less experience in those various roles, I have in all cases enjoyed being involved, making new friends and learning new things. Very satisfying!

And so as we begin a new year, I’m asking our members to seriously consider stepping up to help out as we move forward to achieve even greater accomplishments. It won’t likely happen unless we all strive to serve the Club by actively participating in one or more committees. We have at least two urgent needs at this point. Our hiking committee requires one of its members to be its chair for the coming year. Our social committee requires a few members as well a chair to organize a few functions such as our Christmas dinner and New Year’s Day Potluck affair. Going forward, I believe we should focus on at least a few areas. 

First, we need to effectively market our Club to attract new active members to fill vacant committees as well as Council and Executive positions. One area in particular needs urgent attention - somebody with the technical skills to help maintain and further develop our website.

Secondly, we need to develop more programs of an educational nature to help train our members to more comfortably accept responsible roles such as leaders for our various outdoor activities. Our one day First Aid program held over the past year is a good example as many of us who attended felt we would be more capable of handling emergency situations that might arise during various outdoor activities.

Thirdly, I would like us to consider expanding our slate of outdoor activities to include other popular programs such as golf, tennis and even pickle ball. However, these initiatives and more will not likely happen without active encouragement and support from our membership. So, I end up just as I started by asking everyone to get involved with our Club in one way or another, and within your area of interest and expertise. I look forward to leading the Club forward over the next year and would welcome your constructive comments and suggestions.

Les McDermott

LOC President Les McDermott

LOC Annual General Meeting


It was a warm September evening as folk trooped into the conference room at the Ontario Visitor Center, the new venue for the AGM. The change was necessitated by the absence of a Social Committee to organize the traditional Pot Luck, the difficulty of attracting a quorum on a Sunday evening, and the desire to change things up hoping for better results. Add in a spirited phone campaign by Council to rally support, and it all paid off, 53 members filled the room, perhaps to hear Brenda Lorenz’s fascinating travelogue across the coastal paths in Capri, Malta and New Zealand. The retired teacher delivered an absorbing slide show featuring the history, scenery and challenging walks of these diverse destinations. After a short break with delicious refreshments catered by Les and the Coffee Lodge, we got down to business. First though, we remembered the day, those who perished 17 years ago, and our own members who have taken their last hike, Dorothy Edwards, Charles Manore, Bill Clark.

The minutes of the 2017 AGM, and those of the special meeting convened after the Jan 1 2018 hike were approved. I spoke briefly about my 3 years as President, the process of change and the need to make our Constitution work for the members, rather than the reverse. Treasurer Rod Richmond gave a glowing report of finances; revenue up, expenses down, bliss! Almost 70% of transactions are now processed on line, and even cheques he can snap with his phone and deposit electronically, although as he ruefully admitted, “I still have to drive from Camlachie to the Sarnia Post Office”. The Audit report from David Druiett was approved and we dove into the New Business, the arcane world of our Constitution and Bylaws.

Amendment 1 asked for approval for Council business to include members who are absent to be able to vote by teleconference. (3 Council members spend 5 months in Arizona but are still on the payroll). It passed, with a minor grammatical tweak suggested by Phil Vallance.
Amendment 2 proposed that the quorum for Constitution and Bylaw changes be reduced to 10% from 15% of members, and approval be dropped from 2/3 to a simple majority. The background has been the difficulty in attracting sufficient turnout to consider changes, this evening being a pleasant exception. The motion passed.

There were 4 amendments to ByLaws;
Amendment 1 removed the necessity to name the Standing Committees and gave council the task of determining which are appropriate. The background is that Council structure has become cumbersome; technology and culture are changing roles and focus. The jobs of Publicity, Website, Communications and Newsletter are being assigned to a “media sub committee”, which will have one representative on Council. Also, as new interests emerge, Council can establish committees if required. The motion passed
Amendment 2
That the AGM be held within 3 months of year end (July 31), rather than September. The history is that the AGM was crammed into a busy and active September schedule, and often turnout was sparse. This latitude allows the event to happen in October. The motion was approved
Amendment 3
This refers to membership categories, the wording defining families was clarified, and the category of Honorary member (over 80) was removed, with the proviso that existing people in that category would be exempted. This stems from a 2007 initiative to establish the Honorary category, which was approved but due to oversight not implemented until 2 years ago. It has become apparent that although well intentioned, the idea was to include long standing members who were no longer able to participate, the reality is that we have many very active over 80’s who are using the facilities of the club, and that this number is likely to increase rapidly, which is a good thing. Also, the vexing question arose whether the spouse, if under 80, should be included. Life can be complicated. The motion was approved, with some good humoured over 80’s in active support.
Amendment 4 was an administrative change to allow the Treasurer to transfer money to pay our credit card bill, without the stipulation of 2 signatories per the checking protocol. This was also passed.

Donna presented the new Executive, Les McDermott, President, Vice President Vacant, Treasurer Rod Richmond, Secretary Joan Elliott, Past President Mike Tanner.
She also mentioned the committee chairs and members and thanked those who are stepping down after years of service, Kim Smith and David Druiett especially. The Social and Hiking Committees Chairs are vacant, and the new Council will have to engage membership to find a way forward.

With a sense of profound relief, I handed the gavel to Les McDermott , and walked with a better posture into the warm evening. It was 9:30pm, and the sense was that much has been accomplished, LOC is in good hands and the urge to “get outside” will enable us to move successfully into the future.

Mike Tanner, Past President

A warm and generous turnout to the AGM at the Ontario Travel Center
Incoming LOC President Les McDermott accepts the gavel from Mike Tanner, standing down after 3 years

Outdoor Adventures and Housesitting

Our first insight into housesitting came years ago when we heard past LOC member Susan Osso was a frequent house sitter. The concept seemed intriguing, but at the time while still working there just wasn't enough time available for such pursuits. Once I retired a couple years ago, we became more interested as we had the perfect circumstances: both retired, no kids left at home and a condo where you lock up and walk away, worry-free.

There are several organizations world-wide that support house sitting, and the concept is the same for most. Home owners with pets set up a profile on a website, describing their location, home, and pets that require care. House sitters also set up a profile with their photo, experience, references etc. and then it becomes a matchmaking experience. We started by subscribing to the weekly teaser email with colour photos of the countries, locations, homes and variety of pets posted. Pets vary from a single cat or dog, to multiples of each or both, to horses, goats, chickens and more. House locations vary from secluded rural locations, to suburban neighbourhoods, to downtown high rises and everything in between.
We decided to start with a simple scenario - a single small pet to look after, in Canada, within reasonable driving distance so we'd have our own vehicle. One day when browsing the weekly email one posting caught my eye: a large, beautiful home in the Mont Tremblant area, with one cat. At that point, we decided to join the organization, pay the annual fee, set up our profile and apply - what did we have to lose? Without having experience or references at that point, much to our delight the owners selected us over other applicants and our relationship with house sitting began.
Our first experience had another surprise - the home was actually a beautiful lakeside B&B, minutes from the charming village of Ste. Jovite, the ski hills and Olympic Village and a short car ride to the amazing Petit Train du Nord cycling trail. The owners from Europe close their business so they can visit relatives overseas. It's easier for them to have the cat looked after at home, and have the building occupied than it is to travel with a cat and leave their business/home empty. For us, we get to live at and enjoy a beautiful place free of charge with minimal work in exchange. Win-win. Feed the cat, clean the litter, water the outdoor plants in summer and keep the place clean and tidy.  And of course enjoy the cycling and hiking in the area. We've looked after this place three times so far, and will be back again this month.
Then just recently when scrolling through the weekly list of opportunities another caught my eye. Blue Mountain area, near Collingwood, on the Bruce Trail, with a german shepherd to mind. The location seemed perfect, and we decided it was time to graduate from a house cat but were we ready for a large dog? Why not? What awaited us was a quaint log/mortar cabin, with 2 large extensions done over the years to match the original decor and all the comforts of home: 2-1/2 modern baths, 4 bedrooms, WIFI, satellite TV and stereo, modern kitchen, large front porch, and large rear deck with hot tub. And a beautiful, placid, well-behaved dog who walked with us on the blue and white trails of the Bruce Trail every day.

Our experience to date has been amazing. We have stayed in beautiful and unique places that would be costly if you were paying nightly for a B&B or renting a cottage. We have gotten attached to pets that were no bother to look after, and met owners who have become friends. We have been able to get out and enjoy beautiful cycling trails and hiking trails and other outdoor conservation areas and attractions in regions other than our local area. Have we been lucky? - yes we likely have.  Are there likely some places that might be less than perfect? - I'm sure there are. But so far our experiences have been excellent, and we plan to continue this way to stretch our retiree travel budget further, enjoying the outdoors in locations we might not otherwise have visited.
~ Chris Richmond
Rod Richmond on the Bruce Trail during recent house sitting stay.

Bushwacking in Port Franks

On a bright and humid September Saturday, three LOC members swelled a small group from Lambton Shores Nature Trails (LSNT) for the unglamorous job of clearing the bush along two trails, The ‘L’ Lake trail and Forested Dunes Nature Reserve. Hikers often take for granted that trails are clear and maintained, but after two years nature was encroaching, and we cut back overhanging limbs, underbrush and in a couple of spots removed fallen trees. It was hot and sticky work, in an under appreciated vestige of the once vast Carolinian forested area. One pleasing sight was a bench dedicated to Delmar Ellis,  an inspiring outdoorsman who promoted the idea of an outdoor club, which begat LOC. LSNT was founded in 2011 by Klaus Kernaecke and others to promote the development and maintenance of trails in Lambton Shores and vicinity, an area of outstanding natural beauty and bio diversity. In a short time, they have partnered with municipalities, landowners, Conservation areas and businesses to develop a remarkable infrastructure. As well as trail maintenance, they have  erected a Trail Head and signage in Forest and Port Franks, and a wheelchair accessible dock at the Ausable Cut.

Their other mandate is to encourage public access and use of these trails, and to that end they organize a Nature Appreciation Hike, a day long hike and study session with travel and Tourism students from North Lambton SS, a Hike leaders Training course, and a popular Film day at the Kineto theatre in Forest. The screenings of a Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail documentaries were well received. An innovative approach to popularize their trails is a 7-trail challenge. Hike all 7, answer a trivia question on each, submit your entries and the first 200 will receive a “badge”. Details can be found at the trailhead or:


In the past several LOC members were instrumental in developing the Ausable Valley Trail, notably John Timar, Kevin Crowell and Fern Noel.  LSNT has continued this work, defending Trails against marauding ATV’s, Horseback Riders and working with authorities and landowners to preserve and enlarge the trail network. Thanks to Kevin Crowell and Doug Wilson who joined me on this day; other work days are planned for the Fall, if you are interested we will start a support group within LOC.

Mike Tanner 

The work crew assemble at Outer Drive, Port Franks at the entrance to the trail wielding saws, loppers, pruners and a weed wacker.
This bench has a view over a pond on Mud Creek. Delmar's vision was the inspiration that brought people who were passionate about the Outdoors together, and was the sprinboard for LOC forming in 1991. 

LOC Social Committee

Christmas Dinner and New Year's Day Hike

LOC members have shown by their past support that they enjoy social events; the food, drink and camaraderie and the presentations which share the excitement of exploring new parts of the world. It was with regret that we bid farewell to Kim Smith who stood down as Social chair after five years, and most of her members who have also served the club well. 

In the spirit of carrying the ball, your Executive decided to continue with arrangements for the Christmas Social on Nov 25th, relying on fresh hands to organize this event. I offered to coordinate, and Sharon Cathcart, Joan Rennie and Lori Clancy together with returning committee member Joanne Block have offered to help. At this point we are waiting on Olives to finalize menu options and price, but it will be similar to the great meal served last year. Details will be posted shortly.

The New Years Day hike and Social has always been a highlight, but if you want the traditional pot luck, it will require 6 people to volunteer in the kitchen. LOC has had supportive volunteers for 25 years, and that tradition must continue if we are to sustain programmes and events. This time the ball is in your court.


Mike Tanner, Past President

Hiking in the Rockies

It was in the previous year the decision was made to sign up for a wilderness hiking experience in the British Columbia interior with “Skyline Hikers". Prior to leaving, we had checked and re-checked our hiking list ensuring we were equipped with the proper gear and clothing that would serve the challenge on which we were about to embark.

We had taken seriously our pre-training responsibilities; however, it was difficult to simulate the elevation of the mountains in the flat terrain around the City of Sarnia, Ontario.  Nonetheless, we weighted down our back packs and were committed to our daily climb on the only hill we could find at the water treatment plant; a forced impostor of Canada’s largest mountain.

We arrived at our “Skyline Hikers” meeting point in Banff in mid-July and were ecstatic to find an atmosphere that was overwhelmingly positive. Here and now we were united with our fellow travellers equally by doses of fear, enthusiasm and trepidation. 

In an attempt to squeeze dry every drop of experience prior to our departure, we took a Gondola ride up to Banff’s Sulphur Mountain. Upon reaching the top we were treated to spectacular breathtaking views of our Canadian Rockies. The never-ending postcard that lay before us was a presentation of crystal blue lakes and snow capped mountains. Although thoroughly enjoying this photo shoot of beauty, I worried at the possibility of having created a spoiler for the days that lie ahead. Would I be sorry to have opened this present much too early prior to our great challenge? 


As we prepared our gear, the horses stood waiting ready to transport it to our wilderness camp the following morning. At orientation, we learned our camp had been prepared and was encircled by an electric fence. Hopefully this would deter bears from attempting to feast on food human or otherwise. We would be hiking in White Man’s pass which was deep in the British Columbia wilderness and on the border of Banff National Park in the Province of Alberta. The officials of the park were aware of this eighty-year old Skyline hiking company and a good relationship existed between the two. Unlike the groomed trails of Banff National Park that were open to the public, these ungroomed trails on the BC/Alberta border would challenge us with rough terrain including brush, rock, scree and at times snow throughout our six-day experience.

We discussed the logistics of what “minimizing the carbon footprint” meant and came to understand we would be pumping water via a karadign (special filter) from a nearby brook. Wash basins would be provided in gender-defined wash tents. The walls of another large tent would enclose a dozen or so picnic tables and serve as our kitchen. Bathroom facilities would be represented by teepee-enclosed one holers strategically placed around the camp. We would sleep on the ground in old prospector tents. The romantic vision I had conjured when listening to Bon Jovi speak of the “earth being last night’s bed” would crush my brain when I realized the reality of cold earthen floor.



The next day, we headed out bravely in an old bumpy school bus that transported us from Banff through Kootenay National Park, up the Palliser forestry service roads to our trailhead. In groups of six, we began our ascent on the narrow and often rough trail to our camp at White Man's pass. The day was warm and the extreme humidity was not a friend especially on such a steep ascent. The distance to travel was a mere six kilometers, however, it required four thousand feet of continual climb. Acclimatizing to this drastic change in elevation had us breathing deeply and our pure concentration was for the placement of one foot in front of the other. Therefore, it was a quiet group who hiked into camp that day; an atmosphere of silence save for the babbling brook that kept us company along the way. After many hours of digging deep within, and promises to the Gods, White Man’s Pass dotted with about fifteen prospector tents was a welcome sight for each of us.


It didn’t take long for me to learn that it is extremely cold and damp in the mountains even in July. From sundown to sunrise I was cold. It was that kind of cold I felt on mornings spent watching my son play hockey, the kind of cold that I once felt when the howling winds of the Atlantic would bite through me as a young girl running home from school. The cold to the bone kind only a Cape Breton home heated by coal or a hot bubble bath could cure. But here there was no coal and there was no hot bubble bath. There was only my two layers of clothing and my minus 45 degree mummy sleeping bag. And still I was cold. And so, the sound of the 7:00am school bell was a welcome one that had us begin our day with a steaming bowl of porridge, a meal my Mom always swore would “stick to my bones.” A lunch bag containing a sandwich, granola bar and piece of fruit awaited us as we left the kitchen tent to prepare for the day. The seeds of relationships began as we each drew water from the brook, and chatted about the night behind us and the anticipation of the day ahead. 

Our day packs were heavily laden as we prepared them for any eventuality on the trail. Full Gortex gear, a toque, gloves, extra clothing, plenty of water and lunch were just some of the items that weighed us down on our daily trek in the Rockies.

Once packed, we headed to our meeting point where we would be given the details of the day ahead. Each day three hikes were in the offering all with varying degrees of terrain difficulty and distance.


We spent five to seven hours each day on the trails hiking up into the high alpine meadows well above the tree line. The distances varied from seven to nine kilometers with climbs ranging from 3000 to 4000 feet of elevation. Our Leaders were advanced hikers who knew the terrain well. We were captivated as they shared their knowledge of the mountains, trails, flowers and terrain.  

Throughout the week we witnessed the mountains reflected in the crystal blue water of Cross Lake. We marvelled at the myriad of prominent mountain flowers as our boots found their way across the tundra of White Man’s shoulder and Red Man’s saddle. The bouquet of the Canadian spruce and pine trees was delivered to us on a gentle breeze. We were charmed by the magical color of Azure Lake. We stood and marvelled at the 360 degree stunning views of the jagged snow-capped mountains by which we were surrounded. We could almost touch the 12,000m peak of Mount Assiniboine the highest in the South continental ranges of the Canadian Rockies. And when we rested, our lunch was akin to a gourmet meal and the water as fresh on our throats as if dripping from a crystal glacier.


As the distance of the trails grew so did our relationships. Stories were shared of life at home, dreams and challenges ahead. At times, we sang in harmony and laughter echoed through the gully’s and valleys of the granite mountains. At times tears were mere moments away as we realized the price to be paid for the reward of these majestic views. But this diverse group melded together as we stood strong taking on this common goal.

Although we had learned to climb with a light foot and short stance, the struggle was often slow and tough. We used our poles wisely ensuring to lengthen them on descent for better stability. We struggled through loose, steep, rocky scree. We trod cautiously through snow fields. The hikes were equally challenging, beautiful and fulfilling. Most satisfying for me and the highlight of the entire adventure was hiking side by side with my life’s partner. The complexity of emotion I felt as we supported each other step by difficult step is something I will always cherish.


Returning to camp exhausted, we welcomed a hearty supper cooked on the old cast iron stove brought in by helicopter to our camp weeks before. With the gruelling days hike behind us the aches and pains disappeared not unlike the pangs of labor quickly forgotten after the birth of my children.

At days’ end, as the sun set behind the mountains, the walls of the large donut tent pulsed with the sweet sound of strings and song. Our voices came together sharing the musical stories of Canadian greats like Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen. The flame of the fire that took center stage licked the air for momentary warmth prior to returning to our tents. Having now completed one of the most physically challenging adventures to date, I sit and contemplate this experience of climbing our Canadian Rockies and living in the roughest of conditions. Throughout the journey, I have been sun burned, muscle ached, fly bitten and exhausted. But I have been rewarded with some of the most majestic views in my lifetime. Without a doubt the work put into the adventure was well worth the great rewards garnered.


As I reflect, I remember the myriad of flowers that adorned the mountainous tundra. These beds of mountain flowers consisted of a conglomeration of up to ten different species. These flowers, fed with fertile soil, displayed a different color and beauty of their own.And I realize that our camp was not unlike these flower beds. Thirty-four hikers who came together as strangers in this nucleused environment taking each step together. And presented in this collective portrait I came to understand the beauty of what people can be  - can accomplish when they work together. When they accept each other, and understand that we each have our own story to tell. So had the Sulphur mountain experience prior to this trek served as a spoiler? Absolutely not.  With this amazing experience, I transported myself from a viewer to a participant. Advancing myself from the outskirts of the picture to the inside of it’s very core. The picture postcard that is our Canadian Rockies had become my own.

~ Donna Suffield
Filters out microorganisms from water (from stream in photo background) for all drinking water used during the week.
Not for the faint of heart, the camp featured these outside potties, as well as open-air urinals for males and females.
The Ice Tent
Don't let the cozy look and month of July fool you; Donna never warmed up all week
in her ice tent.
The Reward
But it was all worth it.
The breathtaking scenery, and an experience not soon to be forgotten!
Hike, Paddle, Ride... Smile!

Lambton Outdoor Club | P.O. Box 653 | Sarnia, Ontario, N7T 7J7