The Paddler


With the conclusion of the 50 stories in 50 days to celebrate 50 years at Hart Lake, we have one more story to share. During this project we lost an integral member of our community, Randy Leamen - Mr. Canoehead himself. Mr. Canoehead was a force of nature and big reason why so many of the stories shared these past… read more →

A Quiet Refuge on the Lake

By Tim Howlett – former Camper and Staff (mid-1990s to early 2000s) My years at Camp Big Canoe as a camper and staff member have left me with many dear friends and treasured memories. Given how much the Big Canoe experience is based on the wondrous community of people, it is perhaps odd that the memory I’ve chosen to share… read more →

Powerful Beauty

by Lee-Anna Sangster - Camper in the late 80's into the 90's; Staff 1998-2001 I started as a camper in the late 80s and stayed with Camp Big Canoe as a camper, then skills, then CIT, then staff until my last summer in 2001. I grew up at camp. And as a city kid with working parents, I often went… read more →

Camp Big Canoe Can Do

by  Sarah Horsley - Staff  1999-2006 Camp Big Canoe. So many magical, creative, rich memories. Laughter. Creativity. At camp, campers and staff created skits, songs, chants, games and activities from anything. All objects became props. Magical props. To this day the creativity really, really sticks with me. There is a real 'can do' attitude at camp, this is what I… read more →

The Space Between

by Mitch Tucker - Former Camper & Staff Sometimes, the best parts of camp are the ‘in-between’ times. I’m talking about the conversations on the marathon walk to the store. The goofing around while lining up to peg in at swim beach. The rest hours spent with your tent mates playing cards and making each other laugh harder than you… read more →

Big Love

by Lindsay Tucker - Former Camper & Staff I write this as my two little ones are tucked into their beds, hoping one day they will sleep under the stars like I did. I think about how fortunate I was to spend a significant amount of my childhood summers - well, until I was 25 - at Camp Big Canoe.… read more →

Yellow Rubber Boots

by Scott Purvis - Volunteer 1998-?? In the summer of 1998 I got the call. Bill needed a favour. I owed Bill. He was the man who introduced me to my wife… He was the best man at our wedding… He was my mentor… So when Bill calls…you answer. Bill needed me to fill in for a session as a… read more →


by John Dinner - Staff 1998-2001 When this project began, the 41st story was already reserved for this one. If you were lucky enough to be there, you may already know what this story is about. This is my version of that magical evening. #41. A song. But so much more than a song. I'm certain it did not start… read more →


by Adam Bayes - Former Camper & Staff As I sit in my basement apartment trying to figure out what story to tell about camp that truly shows its magic, I hear rain outside. There’s a storm coming through where I live and I hear the rain hitting one of the few windows in my apartment. I can hear it… read more →

An awesome way to grow up

by Sean Thomas Robson - Camper 2004 – 2012, Staff 2013 – 2015 Attempting to narrow myself to one camp story has been a very frustrating but immensely enjoyable challenge. As soon as I think of my time swimming in Hart Lake, booking it through the forests, or climbing the hill – that horrible, butt-kicking, breath-taking (literally) hill -- I… read more →

Growing up Magical

by Cody Hill – Camper 2004-2007, Staff 2008/2009 I was fortunate to attend Camp Big Canoe through my teenage years, 13-19. In this time I changed rapidly physically, emotionally, and mentally as one does through adolescence. I have changed since, done some more growing up as one needs to do through school and entering adulthood. But nothing shaped who I… read more →

More than just a sandcastle

by Rachel Crosscombe - Skills 2011, LIT 2012 My Big Canoe story actually started at Sparrow Lake Camp. I had been attending there for many years and this particular year the Reggatta was being held at Sparrow. Staff and campers from Big Canoe and another United Church Camp, whose name escapes me, came for a day of fun and games.… read more →

Glow Stick Man to the rescue

by Brian Jackson - Camper 1996-1999, Staff 2000-2002 "It is I, Glow stick Man!" I shouted as I burst out of a crowd of people packed tightly along the Muskoka River, awaiting the Canada Day fireworks display. My friends, in the midst of a farcical Elizabethan drama that was playing out, turned in unison with amazed looks on their faces.… read more →


by Mackenzie Clark - since 2008 Recently I had a conversation with my father (who grew up attending summer camp himself) about the volume of God's voice at camp. For many years I had known that his strong faith in the Lord was established primarily during his summers at camp, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered that it… read more →

Spontaneous Good Times

by Steve Salt - Camper 1993-1995, Staff 1996-2003 Camp is home. Even so many years later, driving up the camp road simply feels like returning. I've spent a lot of the last few years in various places around the world, but my camp memories are so abundant that I don't have to look far to be vividly reminded of a… read more →

One memory makes a bunch

by Brian Bailkowski - Camper 1995-1998; Staff - 1999 & 2000 When I think about my time at Camp Big Canoe, no single memory stands out more than others. I immediately get memories flooding in about experiences like: looking for your name in the craft shack swimming the lake swim to Turtle Rock camping with the juniors at Lost Lake… read more →

A lasting mark

by Brienne Paterson - Camper 2007-2014, Staff 2015, 2016 I've attended camp since 2007 - a camper for 8 years and staff for 2 - and it breaks my heart that this will be my first summer not at camp in 10 years, but I have every intention to visit every chance I get ! The story I have chosen… read more →

A few extra brownies

by David Salt - Camper 1993? (can't remember...), skills 2000, CIT 2001, staff 2002-03 ---------- It is a bit of an odd memory, but I remember getting up in the night, or early morning, before the sun was up, to go up to the elephants. At the beginning of my time at camp I was always a little afraid (of… read more →

Mulchy and me

by John Dinner - Staff 1998-2001, Volunteer, Member of the Board of Directors My first summer at camp was also Mulchy's first summer at camp. If you're not aware of who or what Mulchy is, let me explain. First off, Mulchy is a tree. A wonderful tree. A tree that I instantly felt a connection with, and has surely been… read more →

It’s in the Music

By Patti (Curtis) Clark - Camp Big Canoe since 1977 – Staff, PeeWee staff, parent of campers/staff, Board Member Music is one of my favourite parts of Camp Big Canoe. Being woken for Polar Bear swim by a friendly song played by a trumpet, singing grace before meals, hiking while singing on the way to chapel, lip-syncing staff performances at… read more →

A jar full of memories

by Carolyn Cook - former staff My memories of Camp Big Canoe are so numerous and impactful, that it is hard to know where to begin. I was there for several years as kitchen staff in the early 80’s. My perspective is different because at the time I was in my early 30’s and a single mom. The best part… read more →

Free Fallin’

by Laura Berton - Camper 2003; Staff 2004-2006 It was the summer of 2003, and boredom stretched before me. I’d been feeling restless as I hadn’t yet made many plans. My aunt suggested I register for Camp Big Canoe’s Counsellors In Training Program (CIT, now called Leaders In Training). I was hesitant. For one thing, I’d be almost a full… read more →

Believing in Big Canoe

by Sean Lypaczewski - Former Camper & Staff, Current Board Member The simple act of believing in someone can change their life forever. Here's an example: When I was ten, I just really wanted to belong somewhere. It's probably a really common feeling, but as a ten year old it felt entirely unique and alienating (though I didn't know the… read more →

Camp is just that important

The Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund helps to send 25,000 children to camps across Ontario, and we at Camp Big Canoe are thrilled to have been involved with such a wonderful initiative over the years! The best thing about the fund is that often kids themselves don't know they are the recipients, and certainly no one else does. The kids… read more →

The walk up the Hill

by Laura Snelgrove - Camper, Staff member It's impossible to choose a single memory that gets anywhere close to expressing what Big Canoe has meant to me for the last 25 years. I tried! But when I close my eyes and think of camp, I think of walking up the hill by myself and getting to the point where it… read more →

A turtle’s welcome

by Tom Griffin - Staff 2002 I only worked at Big Canoe for one summer. And it was my first time to Canada too. I remember it being like a postcard- when you see unusual landscapes for the first time their differences are emphasized and even more magical. What a fairy-tale landscape, mist on the water, many many tall tall… read more →


by Tara Wannamaker - Staff 1998 - 2000 and 2002 Camp Big Canoe wasn’t my first camp experience. As a camper I’d been to three or four different camps and I’d been a staff member at three camps before CBC. By the time I arrived at Camp Big Canoe in the late spring of 1998 I was already a 22… read more →

The Flash

by Scott  'Flash' McKay Before the first season (1966 ?), Jim Burns took a bunch of us up to the camp and we built the platforms for the tents and the dock. We'd known each other from being campers at Simpresca. Later on I was a CIT and counsellor for two seasons. The walk to Mr. Allen's  store, or into… read more →

Camp is storytelling

by David Bell - Camper and Staff 2000-2016 50 stories for 50 days, that's an ambitious goal. Not because there is a shortage of material, that's for sure. I'm lucky enough to be working in the camping industry with people who have worked at many different camps and there isn't a day that has gone by where I'm not telling… read more →

Finding Home

by Bill Stevens - Director since 1998 We, Jennifer and I, first drove the camp road on January 3rd, 1998.  I was at camp for my second interview.  The road was passable with just tire tracks in the snow leading us to the lodge.  I met the interview committee and Garry Van Capelle in the “under construction” kitchen, two feet… read more →

Session 3, 2000

by Samantha Field - Camper & Staff 2000-2013 Session 3 2000. This was a summer that for many people will never be forgotten. I am sure just mentioning that year gives some PeeWee staff a little anxiety, remembering being stuck at camp, standing on a ladder searching for signal on those HUGE cell phones. Looking after nervous children away from… read more →

Small ducky not cry

by Bev (Clark) Lypaczewski - 1991-1997 PeeWee camper, 1998-2003 Session camper, 2003-2011 Staff, 2012-2017 PeeWee Camp Volunteer For me, camp has always been about the connections and community. Ten years could have passed and I will run in to a friend from camp and it will be like we saw each other yesterday. It's the type of friendship that involves… read more →

Humming the Aardvark song

by Ian McTavish - Camper, Staff, Board member I was eight years old when I was a camper for the first time. At campfire my counselor taught us the Aardvark song. Singing in front of the camp was terrifying but over the years I grew more confident to the point where I was leading campfire songs. Tom Hill was the… read more →