Eganville – The new Lake Dore Lodge was officially opened Friday with a summer meet and greet at Melissa Bishop Park on the shores of Lake Dore.
The municipally-owned cottage was part of a major update and refurbishment to the property, which also included upgrades to the on-site facilities at the beach and the development of a walking/running trail named after local Olympian, Melissa Bishop-Nriagu.
North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose noted the opening and dedication of the lodge was a significant and exciting day for council and staff.
“It’s something that we’ve had in the works. . . . it’s been about three years since we applied for a grant to do some of the improvements,” he said.
Laura Lapinskie, executive assistant to Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski, brought greetings on his behalf, and also on behalf of MP Cheryl Gallant, who was also unable to attend.
Mayor Brose offered his thanks to both Mr. Yakabuski and Mrs. Gallant’s constituency offices for their assistance in securing the FedEv Canada Community Revitalization Fund grant that helped with most of the costs for the upgrades at the lodge.
“The upgrades include new kitchen facilities, wiring, plumbing, etc.” he said. “This project took a year-and-a-half and it included enrichment of the park’s amenities and in particular, in terms of accessibility.
“We have accessible paths down to the beach and to some of the structures, as well as the accessible ramps and washroom here,” he added. “The improvements also included expanding our beachside pavilion for covered picnics and music events, as well as a public barbecue for outdoor cooking.”
Gravel trails were installed throughout the park to connect each area to the wheelchair accessible parking area and restrooms.
“These developments also honour an important local athlete who the park was named after, Melissa Bishop, our hometown hero, who grew up on Lake Dore where this very park is located,” he said.
He noted Ms. Bishop competed in the 2012, 2016 and 2020 summer Olympic games in her specialty, the 800-metre run.
“She won a silver medal at the 2015 World Athletic Championships and her world championship medal was a Canadian women’s first-ever medal in the 800-metre track event.”
He noted how, in 2017, she married fellow athlete Osi Nriagu and the couple now have two beautiful children, Corinne and Olivia.
“In honour of our hometown hero, North Algona Wilberforce Township built the Melissa Bishop-Nriagu track here in the park. There’s updated signage highlighting her Olympic achievements at the dugout in the ball diamond and visitors to the park are challenged to run the park four times in less than two minutes to beat Melissa’s record-breaking time.
“Also included around the track are inspirational quotes from Melissa,” he added.
History of Lodge
Mayor Brose shared how the lodge was initially donated to the township by the MacDonald family.
“Many multi-generational residents have fond memories of dances here, certainly before Highway 60 (was built) and even before motorized vehicles,” he noted. “So, it’s certainly more than a century-old building.
“The recent renovations were carefully designed to preserve the best of the historical features and the layout of the building, while making the essential upgrades to the accessible restrooms and licensed community kitchen,” he added. “So, we’re looking forward to a future of many social events in this building once again.”
He said the renovations involved partnerships with local organizations who hope to offer recreational and cultural programming there.
“We also want to thank and welcome Nala’s Kitchen to the Beachside Bistro and she will be offering beach-goers and park users delicious food right here in the park,” he noted. “And she’s responsible for serving us the food we are taking part of this afternoon.”
Mayor Brose thanked Cameron Montgomery, the special projects and economic development specialist in the township, who has been a big part of the project. He also acknowledged Caitlyn Leblanc, the recreation leader, who organized Friday’s event.
“Also, all of our staff in the office have played a big part in making this happen and we’re very, very grateful for all of their efforts,” he remarked.
Councillor Shares Memories
Councillor Janet-Reiche Schoenfeldt was unable to attend as she was returning from a holiday at the Calgary Stampede, but she sent some comments which were shared by Steve Cotnam of the Lake Dore Property Owner’s Association.
Coun. Schoenfeldt shared how she has spent her 60 years living around or at the lake, noting it is known for many things, including Sunnydale Acres, three trailer parks, ball teams, fishing and the famed Mac Beattie song, the Lake Dore Waltz.
“It’s well-known for its residents and also this place,” she said.
She said former Councillor Kevin Clarke used to refer to the building as the “pavilion” in its earliest years, while she knew it as the “cottage”.
“And now, it has a new and very fitting name, the Lake Dore Lodge,” she stated. “At one point early in my municipal career, there was talk about demolishing the structure, and I’m so glad we decided against doing that.
“What loss that would have been,” she continued. “Now, look at the building, what a beautiful makeover for the old structure.”
A former educator, she said the new lodge will open up many educational opportunities for the community.
“In front of us, we have one of nature’s best classrooms, Lake Dore, and now we can have an interactive outdoor educational facility. We can now partner with secondary and post -secondary institutions and other outdoor groups. The local elementary and high school can benefit from this facility, along with our local college, Algonquin, that ahs a number of world-famous outdoor programs.”
Coun. Reiche-Schoenfeldt said students in other programs can benefit from the lodge as well, by leaving the paved and concrete yards to play and investigate in Lake Dore’s sand and water. She suggested organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides could also take advantage of the lodge for exploration activities.
“The township already has a great partnership with Shaw Woods and now that relationship will be even stronger.”
She thanked everyone for attending and encouraged them to share the news about the township’s newest gem with others.
Laura Lapinskie presented certificates and brought greetings on behalf of Mr. Yakabuski and Mrs. Gallant, noting while it is wonderful to get grant money the work comes after that.
“And the work is always at this level,” she said. “I’ve known this park for years, personally. I live in Eganville and it’s a treasure without a doubt.”
She admitted being amused when she heard the comment about the Lake Dore Waltz, as that is one of Mr. Yakabsuki’s famous go-to songs when he is asked to sing at a function. She noted he was planning to perform the song during his visit at Logger’s Day in Algonquin Park soon.
“Next time he’s here, we’ve got to make sure he sings the Lake Dore Waltz,” she noted.
Mayor Brose concluded the ceremony with a toast by council, followed by ice cream for the visitors.