Saturday, August 3, 2002

Path: PA-1

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PA-1 Panache Lake / Lac Panache
August 3, 2002


I had made this trip perhaps hundreds of times as a child growing up in the Valley, and then as a young adult living in Sudbury. My cousins and I would spend most of the summer at camp swimming, fishing and basking in the sun. In the winter, there were shorter stays when my uncles would ice fish on the lake. Winter highlights were the night sauna or doing donuts on the lake by riding the tobbogan that was attached to the car.

Photo by René T. Dionne Limited

Yet this was the first time I would cycle to the family cottage — le chalet. On a hot summer day, I borrowed my brother’s mountain bike and made my way down Lorne Street which led to Route 55. My Lac Panache waypoint (PA-1) was about 45 km away.

Passed the municipalities of Lively and in Naughton, noticed the road that leads to the Reserve. I’ve only ever been to the tiny store at the entrance, where cottagers buy cartons of cigarettes. In fact, a significant portion of Panache Lake lies within Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Whitefish Lake First Nation Reserve), who are descendents of the Ojibway, Algonquin and Odawa Nations.

There was no shoulder on the highway which was pockmarked in areas. Big, lumbering trucks and campers whizzed by. Turned onto Municipal Road 10 (Panache Lake Road) in Whitefish. Lac Panache was another 10 kilometers south. Further West was Espanola and its paper mill as well as Manitoulin Island, the World’s largest island in a freshwater lake (Lake Huron). Manitoulin means spirit island in Anishinaabemowin.

Once on the regional road, there was little traffic and I could absorb my surroundings. Lakes and marshlands, rivers and the occasional dwelling. I kept my eye out for herons. Soon I was on the gravely road that lead to camp with the sweet smell of evergreens and wildflowers in the air.

Photo by René T. Dionne Limited

I took a detour by the marina. Growing up in the 70s, my cousins and I would often venture to Delky and Louis Dozzi’s Penage Bay Marina in the pedal boat, or if we were lucky, with the motorboat. More often we would simply walk. It was a chance to meet other people our age from surrounding cottages and stock up on forbidden items like gum, popsicles and chips.

Photo by René T. Dionne Limited

It is always a little disappointing as an adult to revisit a place that held so much meaning and memories as a child. The marina was empty and the old dog that used to greet me was long gone. I have since found a postcard from that time which seems to reanimate my memories more than having visited the physical location.

Photo by René T. Dionne Limited

I took my photos in the round from the top of the “mountain” that looks onto the lake. From that vantage point, one can see why the name Panache is such an appropriate word to describe the many bays and inlets that look like moose antlers. The Killarney hills can be seen in the distance. Panache is really an incredible lake. I cannot count how many times this lake has surfaced in my dreams; its wide expanses and the deep mystery of its depths.

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