Early Spring Weekend at Mew Lake
Camping in the Slush

A gallery of photos - largely "people" pictures - from an early spring camping weekend at Mew Lake in Algonquin Park in March of 1976.

1976 March 27

On Saturday March 27, 1976 seven refugees from Toronto headed north to Mew Lake in Algonquin Park for an an overnight campout and some skiing and snowshoeing. We arrived in thawing conditions and intermittent rain. We had the campground to ourselves (no surprise). We set up our tents in the slush and managed to stay mostly dry. Overnight a cold front blew in, which froze everything solid and added some fresh snow. In the morning we went exploring across the airfield to the Highland Hiking Trail and the abandoned railway line. (In all honesty, at this late date, we can't remember exactly where we went but our notes mention the hiking trail and we remember being on the railway line.) Upon returning from our expedition, we were met by a ranger who described how a wolf had carefully inspected our campsite in our absence. We subsequently packed up our gear and headed back to Toronto. A good time was had by all.

In 1976, the Mew Lake campground was (as it is now) available for camping in the off season. During the winter months, the campground entrance was plowed, access to the sites was by walking in, free firewood (slab wood) was available, and the vault toilets were open. There was no electricity available and no camping fee charged for off-season camping. Yurts were well in the future.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Wally and Joan grab a snack while Herman gets ready to visit the facilities. Note the skis slung under the table to provide a sheltered 'shelf' out of the rain for a couple of Wally and Joan's boxes of supplies.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Joan seems to be enjoying the outing more than Wally. Or is it just that Wally's focus is on his sandwich?

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Why am I here? Phyllis contemples the slush in front of the tent. (Note the standing water - a good test of your tent's floor.)

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Tim and Wally, Joan in the yellow rain suit behind Tim. The yellow tent belonged to Wally and Joan; the little blue and orange to the left was Tim's one man tent.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

The happy camper returns from his mission. (The orange tarp is strung from the front of Bob and Diana's tent.)

1976 March 28

A cold front blew in overnight, solidifying the base and bringing a fall of fresh snow. The day dawned bright and sunny.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Tim, Wally, Herman and Phyllis enjoying the morning sun. The improvement in the weather made everyone much more cheerful.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Ahoy there! (Diana)

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Herman and Phyllis

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Tim seems to be enjoying himself; Joan seems less sure.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Wally returns, looking a bit tentative (he was a skier, not a snowshoer).

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Diana enjoying the clean fresh air.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Bob looking suave, as usual.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Faber snowshoes with leather work bindings -- probably Bob's or Diana's. There weren't many plastic and metal snowshoes around in those days, or even nylon webbing and Fastex buckles.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Wally with ski poles.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Diana had a bad cold but it cleared up quickly in the fresh air. Here she is just finishing up after administering nose drops. (Damn husbands and their intrusive cameras.)

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Let the farm boy cut the wood; he has too much energy anyhow.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

We had the campground to ourselves.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Wally appears to be demonstrating cross-country skiing arm motion to Tim. Herman (behind Tim) and Phyllis are still relaxing on the picnic table.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Tim, Herman, Wally, Joan, and Diana around the campfire. The only bare ground was by the campsite number post.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Wolf paw print. A wolf had checked out our campsite while we were away exploring the area. We can't remember where our food was stored, but probably in our vehicle. Bold wolves at Mew Lake seems to be a long established tradition.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1976 March

(photographed: 1976-03-27 - explore

Packing up to return to the city (sigh). At least it was sunny for the drive back.

1977 March 05

In 1977, early in March, a similar group returned to Mew Lake, this time comprising Bob and Diana, Sid and Marie, Wally and Joan, Tim, and John. Unfortunately we only have two photos from this trip. It was much more wintry. Although the temperatures were not bitterly cold, it snowed heavily most of the time we were there. Great for skiing and snowshoeing, not so good for the drive up and back.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1977 March

(photographed: 1977-03-06 - explore

Bob and Diana's tent and tarpage. We cooked on a stove under the tarp, and spent a lot of time knocking the snow off the tarp and fly to keep things from sagging too badly.

winter camping at Mew Lake Algonquin Park  1977 March

(photographed: 1977-03-06 - explore

Joan and Wally, taking a break in their cheery yellow tent.

The trip was not repeated in subsequent years. By 1978, Bob and Diana had moved to Deep River and Herman to Chicago. The others also soon scattered. Thirty some years on, we know where most of these campers are, except for Tim and John.

notes

These photos were taken with a Pentax Spotmatic II with a 50mm lens, using Fujichrome 35mm slide film. The slides were scanned in a Canon 4200F flatbed scanner and post processed in Photoshop (mainly for colour balance). In general these slides have aged pretty well except for a reddish / purple cast.