The first hunter/gatherers at the lake were aboriginal people of the Algonquin nation. They named the lake Kaijick Manitou after their chief, meaning "Cedar Spirit".
The lake was renamed Loon Lake and then Long Lake, by the white surveyors.
Native families such as Bernard, Lavallee and Baptiste were some of the first settlers. Of these, Algonquin Chief Jean Baptiste and his family are believed to be the earliest resident. Hence the village and lake were named Baptiste.
With the help of Maria Schnurpel, the last owner of the site still operating as a Lodge, a short history has been compiled. I have also incorporated some personal aspects into this review.
The original site of 7 acres, with an option to purchase for future expansion, contained a cottage built in 1930, known as Trail's End. On July 15, 1931 the Wigwassin Post of the Rangers was founded by the first five boys who had been guests that summer. The Post Lodge, completed in June of 1932,1 believe by Martin Lumber, was constructed of white pine logs indigenous to the area. It was 60' by 60', including a 20' wide veranda running the length of the building. Of the 15 rooms, 10 were allotted to the boys, sleeping four to a room of two double bunk beds or as they called it "lumberjack style". The applicants were limited to 40 in order to ensure that each boy received sufficient attention and instruction.
The Post was organized on a quasi military basis, and was advertised as a "summer camp in the Canadian North Woods for America's finest boys". It was under the Command and Direction of Glenn R. Snodgrass who graduated from the University of Illinois in 1923, and was Director of Physical Training at a large high school n the Philadelphia suburbs. The Post Physician was Dr. W Vance, who practiced at Mannington, West Virginia. Also from Mannington, was the Post Quartermaster, C.C. Basnett, an expert camper, woodsman and sportsman, who looked after supplies and the books. The Post Cook was known only as Henry the boys' pal) who was also a guide, canoeist and dead shot with a rifle. Besides learning the outdoor skills, the boys had access to a photo dark room, laboratory and taxidermy shop located nearby which contained lathes, drills planes. The boys were taught the proper use and handling of a rifle and the patience and stealth needed to hunt, but "killed only for the purpose of study and familiarization of wildlife". Along with sailing, swimming, fishing and "aquaplaning" (presumably water skiing), the most thrilling was "The Scooter" was an 85' long wooden track, carrying a car with 1 bearing wheels, which speeded the boys down a slope into the water at 40 mph. The purpose of the Post a included the building of the boys' moral character I stress "loyalty, unselfishness, obedience, resourcefulness intelligence, courage, moral and physical cleanliness friendliness and generosity". The five charter members exemplified these characteristics and were the original leaders with the title of "Corporal".
Getting to the Post was an experience in itself. Families could drive, always taking a route to Belleville and north through Madoc along a road part paved, part gravel to Bancroft, then along a gravel and sand road; but passable in all weather, to the railway station at Baptiste where the cars were left. Motor boats took Rangers to the Post. Parents could also send their b train to Rochester, where the Post Commander personally took charge of the party from that point Post at Baptiste. This was certainly the most exciting to reach the Post. From Rochester, the boys boarded a steamer, the "Montreal", which left Geneseo, N.Y. (lake port) at 8:30 A.M. and arrived in Coburg, Ont. P.M. The "Montreal" was a large passenger ship that made daily trips between Rochester and Coburg from June until September. Candidates' cost for this tram was no more than $30.
The applicants, between the ages of 14 to 20, were carefully investigated to ensure evidence of moral growth and reliability, of Christian persuasion, so that a "Ranger is the kind of boy that his Dad and Mother want him to be".
The camp fee for 6 weeks (July 1st to August 15th) was $175, plus the $30 return fare. This fee was "kept purposely low so that applicants could afford to come regardless of a boy's station in life". (This was in 1932, the middle of the Depression!). Visitors were allowed and stayed in the Trail's End Cottage.
The Rangers were encouraged to purchase a uniform sold at cost for $25 and consisted of a powder-blue double-breasted tunic, light buff riding breeches with scarlet braid on the outside seam, black leather puttees, white felt hat patterned after the Northwest Mounted Police and a scarlet Sam Browne belt. Besides clothing, the Rangers had to bring their own blankets, pillow, raincoat, towels, athletic equipment, a 22 caliber rifle -single shot, of good quality preferred, any musical instruments and a Testament or Bible. The applicant, if accepted, was asked to pledge that he would not touch tobacco until the age of 21. The application form asked the parents to stress the aptitudes they wanted fostered in their boy.
How long the lodge operated as a boys' camp is unknown. Subsequently it was used as a fishing camp for well-to-do Americans using the lodge as a wilderness 'get away'. As there were no roads into the lodge, guests arrived in the town of Baptiste and waved a blanket as a signal for a pick up by boat.
Up to 1958, the ownership changed several times, but guests were not numerous due to deterioration of the structures from lack of proper maintenance.
In the fall of 1958, Ron Schnurpel and three partners bought the lodge and the surrounding land, which consisted of the whole peninsula along with significant portions of the bays to the north and south. The main lodge which had a kitchen, dining room, large lounge, several bedrooms and adjoining cabins were completely renovated, adding propane heaters, toilets, septic connections and wash basins. Drinking water was brought in each day to the main lodge by a tractor from a nearby spring. The absence of telephones, the rustic atmosphere within the lodge, the sandy beach for little ones and a dock with available boat rentals provided the most wonderful holidays for our family for many years. I almost forgot to mention the food - three excellent, hearty meals a day were served in the main dining room. In spite of the swimming and walks, the first order of the day on returning to Toronto for my wife was the bathroom scale!
Eventually, Ron and Maria bought out the partners and operated the lodge on their own, all the while holding jobs in the city - Maria, part time in the bank and Ron a trouble shooter with DeHavilland Aircraft. Weekends and staggered holidays were devoted to chores. Their young son, Ralph also helped with grass cutting, etc. The lodge could not of course have survived without excellent local help for the kitchen, cabins boats.
In the early days, all-day boat trips to High Falls or Elephant Lake were very popular. The first year we came, our children were invited to Ron and Maria's daughter, Monica's first birthday party. Another highlight was the weekly dance with BYOB and some good old-time music - lots of waltzes and polkas. It was a tribute to the construction of the lodge that it was able to withstand all the vibrations on that dance floor.
A number of permanent liaisons took place at Rangers including our daughter Janet meeting her future husband, Ralph Wenckstern whose family were regulars. Their two girls, Caitlin and Erin and now our son Jeff, his wife Yvonne and their new son Nicholas are another generation in love with Lake Baptiste.
After many years, operating the lodge became too much of a burden and in 1979 the Schnurpels decided to subdivide. A new road was positioned up the centre of the peninsula and lots were sold off on both sides c one of which we were able to purchase. Ron and Maria kept a lot adjacent to the lodge, which was sold along with several cabins to a British couple who subsequently sold it to Kevin and Barb Glynn. Kevin's parents had owned a cottage on the lake for years and because of this family connection were thrilled to be back on it. The Glynns with their three children kept it until a transfer to the United States forced them to sell.
Neighbours Simon and Kathy Kastner who had owned a cottage close by then bought the lodge. Time, however was taking its toll, and after 60 some years it was no longer feasible to maintain and in 1996, Simon and Kathy had it demolished and have completed a brand new cottage, constructed by Roger Rivard, famous also for his maple syrup.
The legacy of Rangers Lodge now has international connections, with two of the original lots now owned wonderful folks from Germany.
Sadly, Ron Schnurpel died in June of 1996 and d enjoy the fruits of his labour for as long as he planned, but Maria and her family come up regularly and she remains the human connection to Rangers Lodge.
The accompanying photograph shows Rangers Lodge as it was during the 60's and Stella and I along with hundreds of guests have many happy memories of this beautiful spot.
48 Wineva Ave
Toronto, Ontario M4E 2T2
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