Sitting in a Muskoka Chair in January

Muskoka is definitely not the environment many of us on Limerick Lake aspire to be in one day but at the 2015 Boat Show in Toronto last week I did discover one part of their culture that appeals to me. About an hour before the show was locking up the front doors for the evening I rounded a corner way in the back of the huge facility and discovered the bar where Muskoka Brewery was handing out samples of their four craft beers to thirsty travelers. Perfect timing once again.
Since I had taken a 45 minute walk along the lakeshore that morning to get to the Direct Energy Centre, checking out several marinas along the way with sailboats stacked like codfish in snowbanks for the winter, I was ready for a refreshing beverage. Their taps, tended by the generous Mackenzie Frost-Brown for the duration of the show, feature Muskoka Chairs in four different colours to make life easy for the uncertain patron. I started with the red chair. Then I found a big red Muskoka chair on the faux summer patio with some rather unusual characters from Texarcana, Texas. If you note the photo below, that is Tex Robert Junior behind the bar in the big fur hat with a very big beard below it. When I initially sidled up to the bar beside him I had to ask, “So, did you shoot that thing on your head?” With a twinkle in his eye and never missing a beat he replied. “Yup, and skinned it too!” I liked him right away. Sure beats all of the serious people driving around Toronto hunting for a parking spot.
That is “Big Mike” Relic behind the bar … and yes, he gets the Beachcombers reference all the time … as the Muskoka Brewery sales rep for our area. And out front with the other big beard is Pete Somebody from Hamilton. He and Tex are real entrepreneurs who took advantage of the Ontario Beer Store strike back in the early 70s by running American beer across Lake Erie to thirsty Ontarians who had failed to plan far enough ahead.
I am not at liberty to tell you how the evening ended but one thing I can tell you is that there will not be a new sailboat at my dock this summer. The $632,000 Juneau was unfortunately already sold by the time I got there. As an alternative, perhaps a few Limerick Lakers might want to join together and start up the Bancroft Brewery, thus keeping the Muskoka influence out of the neighbourhood for a while longer.

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Logging around the lakes

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As many of you know, there has been logging taking place both on DarkLake and Limerick Lake over the last two years. Many of us have been extremely disappointed in the approach taken on Dark Lake. The base facts are as follows:

The land that has been logged was originally owned by Domtar. It was sold to a US company, J. M. Longyear.
Longyear hired local logging companies to log the properties. Dark Lake was executed by Freymond Logging Company out of L’amable and Limerick was executed by a company from Palmer Rapids.
Hastings County and Limerick Township do not have bylaws relating to the manner and/or distance that logging can take place near/ around Lakes.
Over the course of the summer my cousin and I have walked both areas a few times. Dark Lake was basically clear cut while the north side of Limerick was logged more accordance with “managed forest” guidelines. This was reinforced by one of the loggers I spoke with at the site on Limerick. Summer pictures of Dark Lake can be seen below.

Late this fall, my cousin had the opportunity to walk both areas with a qualified forester, Colin Mann (FICFor). Colin was trained and qualified in Scotland and travels both Europe and NA to establish wood sources for his company.
The following comments are from Colin Mann, Managing Director of Scottish Woodlands Ltd, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“ We looked at the clear cut timber harvesting operation at Dark Lake and noted that virtually all the merchantable trees had been cut, leaving virtually no standing specimens of favoured species which could act as seed trees to regenerate the felled over land.  Although we didn’t have the benefit of seeing the stand prior to felling, it is likely that some reasonable quality timber was present and it wouldn’t have been unduly difficult to leave potential seed trees behind which, in turn, would sustain future natural regeneration.  As it is, only scrub will re-grow and this looks like an opportunity missed.IMG_0376
By contrast, the on-going harvesting at Limerick Lake seemed to being undertaken quite differently.  The operation was producing merchantable timber but, as opposed to the complete clear system at Dark Lake, it appeared that groups of trees were being removed, perhaps representing circa 25 – 30% of the standing volume.  Additionally, more and better quality trees of favoured species were being left standing.  This would mean there will be sufficient light for these better quality species to naturally regenerate with the effect that an uneven aged forest will develop, capable of generating regular income generation on a truly sustainable, continuous cover basis.  This is good forest management practice.
The two different systems used at Dark Lake and Limerick Lake look as though they highlight the difference between clear cut ‘exploitation’ and ‘sustainable continuous cover’ at each of the sites respectively.  Whilst there might not be much difference between the long term carbon sequestration capabilities, the system being used at Limerick Lake looks as though it will be much more capable to delivering a sustainable flow of merchantable and valuable timber in the course of the coming decades.
One further thought:  if you are looking into anything regarding the Dark Lake logging, you should ask if there are any proposals to re-plant (as opposed to naturally regenerate) the site.  In the UK you would definitely have to re-plant the site as we don’t have the conditions conducive to natural regeneration. I don’t think this is standard practice in Canada.  If Dark Lake were to be replanted the woodland would be ranked as much more sustainable and following good practice.”
The LWRA have committed to research bylaws for the County of Hastings and any other practices that we may be able to access to help influence sustainable management of the forests around our Lakes. We will be working on this over the winter months. Stay tuned – more to come.
Jan MacKillican For LWRA

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Summer of 2015 on the way!

Now that Christmas 2014 and New Year’s Day are in the rearview mirror we all know the Summer of 2015 is just around the corner. Hey, it doesn’t even get dark until 5 o’clock these days! With these facts in mind I thought you might want to do some dreaming at the Toronto Boat Show in about a week’s time. The show runs at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto from January 10 to 18 and if you would like some more details you can go to:
Toronto Boat Show      http://www.torontoboatshow.com