Signs of the Times

Photos and article by Jan Hudson Krueger

The more things change, well...they change. Those changes can sometimes make navigation on land and water and friendly conversations challenging. I was drawn into such a conversation recently to choruses of who has the oldest map. It was all in good fun. However, a dear friend who drops in from overseas annually is perplexed often by name changes that others maintain were always thus.

Paudash Lake was once known as, well, Paudash Lake, but with no upper and lower designations. “Upper” is made up of a trio of bays on the one side of the Narrows and their names have remained consistent ie. Joe Bay, North Bay and Inlet Bay. However, the “Lower” part was formerly labelled Outlet Bay, that long stretch of water from the McGillivray bridge, past the sand bar, to the point by the dam where the lake empties out into the Crowe River.

A portion of Outlet Bay is Ives Bay out of which flows Mud aka Muddy Bay, although a neighbour refers to the latter as Hudson Bay as a nod to my parents. Neither of these names are seen anymore on any map or signpost, but another Mud Bay exists in the upper part of the lake.

Forming an edge to Ives Bay is an island to which young people swim as some sort of rite of passage. It is called Johnson Island on the maps but it used to be known as Chapman Island, after the first cottage builder there. For that matter, the Big Island in North Bay was actually Government Island on the early surveys. We would picnic there, on its piney north shores once each summer. It would take us two hours to boat there in our dory, powered by our Johnson 51/2, laden with at least four of us, one annoyed dachshund, cushions and picnic and swimming supplies. Definitely a full day in the ‘slow lane’.

Lots of changes have occurred in the roads that provide access to the lake and to our homes/cottages, mostly in an effort to provide quicker response to emergency calls and more effective address identification. Directions in the old days used to be “Go one and six-tenths of a mile past the Anchorage, then turn right onto a dirt road in a field,” or “If you pass the Camp Can-Aqua road, you’ve gone too far.” Then the fire lane numbering system came into being and we could just advise visitors to turn left or right on 1a or 7b, etc. Helpful but lacking cottage country ambience. Now we all have excellent names by which to navigate about. We have lanes called Snowberry, Adirondack, Gas Lamp and Sky. Footbridge Road and Geneva Trail are also picturesque and Karl and Malcolm Roads are historical in nature, honouring the McGillivray founding families.

As Paudash Lake is situated in the mineral-rich Canadian Shield, some of its history was built by the mining industry, specifically uranium mining. Off Hwy 118 (which was formerly known as Hwy 121), runs Inlet Bay Road leading to the bay of the same name. However, the road used to be known as the Bicroft Mine Rd, referring to the significant mine near the terminus of that road. And the Dyno Rd. on the south side of the lake off Hwy 28 has dropped the word “Mine” from its signage.

When the mines were active, you could set your watch by the noon hour mine whistles and deep thuds would sometimes punctuate quiet afternoons alerting you to when they were doing blasting at the mines. The Cardiff townsite owes its very existence to the mines as it was constructed to provide inexpensive housing for the miners and their families. All of this activity happened back in the 1950s and early 1960’s, until the demand for uranium dried up and the mines were closed down. Dyno and Bicroft mines, as well as the nearby Madawaska mine in Faraday, have long since ceased operations and have been decommissioned or remediated. Water and air samples continue to be taken to monitor the areas and reassure residents. But apparently having the word “mine” on the sign is not conducive to our local tourism-based economy.

Some things don’t change, as in cottage memories, sunrise paddles in the canoe, mosquitoes and black flies. Other things that do can be considered as fine tweaking of our Paudash experience.