Harry Husak and Gier Thorden

Dept. of Natural Resources
Dore Lake

Bull Moose. Bull Moose.

The Natural Resources Department at Dore Lake has been responsible for maintaining and protecting 5000 square miles of Saskatchewan's prime forest area. The Dore Lake administration headquarters was not constructed until 1951. Prior to this time, small cabins were located at strategic areas throughout the bush. The resource personnel only occupied these cabins through the summer season. During these months, rangers or patrolmen were responsible for maintaining the bush in their particular area. Administration of the area was handled in Big River or Prince Albert. The Dore Lake district has been maintained by the Resources Department since the first fishermen settled the area. During the early years the government hired men to act as fire rangers. Their duties consisted of inspecting bush and wildlife, and constructing towers and cabins.

Like the fishermen, freighters and loggers, these first fire rangers were a hardy lot. They resided at Dore Lake during the summer months, when the fishermen had returned south, isolated and alone. The rangers lived in small log cabins, that served as a headquarters and home. The environment provided them with plenty fresh berries, meat, fish and garden vegetables. These men lived a nomadic type of existence. They spent the entire season travelling miles across old portage routes on foot, and by canoe along the Lake, inspecting bush and wildlife.

The first known fire rangers stationed at Dore, were Earl Appleby and Jean Howe. (Appleby Creek was name in Earl Appleby's honour). Florence Olsen lived with Earl Appleby, his wife, Bessie and Jean Howe, while they were stationed at Dore Lake. In her following account, she describes her life at Dore and the livelihood of the first fire rangers.

"In 1917, Martin Olsen married Anna Ethier from Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. They made their first home below the water tower in Big River. In 1915, their first child, Florence was born. Then in 1917, they had another girl, Myrtel. In 1918, a flu epidemic struck North America and took many lives, one being Martin Olsen's wife and mother of two girls.

I was five years old and Myrtel was three, when we were put in the care of Earl and Bessie Appleby. Earl and Bess Appleby were from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

In 1920, Earl Appleby and his wife Bessie, and my sister and I set out for Dore lake. Earl's friend, a handsome young man by the name of Jean Howe, also came to Dore Lake. Earl and Jean were the Dore Lake and Smoothstone fire rangers. We travelled from Big River to Dore lake by sled, or dog team during the winter. Through the summer months we used a horse and wagon over the eighteen mile portage, between Stoney Lake and Sled Lake. On our arrival at Sled Lake, we made a fire as a signal for someone on Dore Island to come and get us by boat. It took three and a half, sometimes four days to travel from Big River to Dore Lake.

I remember a particular incident that happened coming up from Stoney Lake to the north end of the Lake one fall. We spent the night at the stopping place at the north end of Stoney. Jim Pace was the cook at this stopping place. Next morning, Baptiste Mirasty and his son, were to take us eighteen miles by wagon and horses across the portage and into Sled Lake. Auntie Bess left us to travel in the wagon, while she went on ahead to Sled Lake by horseback to get supper ready. About eight miles out of Stoney, the wagon lost a wheel. Mirasty's son started back to the stopping place to get another wheel. My sister and I, and Baptiste waited by the wagon. Mr. Mirasty soon fell asleep in the warm sun.

Myrtel and I thought we would walk the rest of the way; not knowing there was still ten miles to go. We took a bag of chocolate bars with us. Starting down the road, following the horse tracks Auntie Bess's horse made. we came to a meadow crossing the road. We suddenly lost the horse tracks. We kept on going and soon ran out of road. We tried to go back, but could not find the road. We were lost and didn't know which way to go. This must have went on for hours.

By this time, Mirasty's son came back with the wheel. We were missed. He set out on foot to look for us, while he left his dad to fix the wagon. The Mirasty's boy got all the way to Sled Lake and told Auntie Bess we were gone. She sent Jean Howe after us on horseback. He found our bare feet tracks. Near ready to give up, he saw some fresh tracks. Soon we were found. By now it was cool and dark out, so Myrtel, Jean and I stayed the night on Rabbit Hill. This was called the halfway point on the portage. We slept in the open, while the horses wandered freely to feed. Next morning we set out for Sled Lake. We sure were happy to see Auntie Bess, and she us.

We made our home on Dore Island, but didn't stay there much during the summer. We travelled with Earl. He had his fire camps to attend to and make his rounds to check out the towers. In the summers Earl, Jean, Bessie and us girls, packed all we had and went to the tower cabins. There we spent the summers on the lovely beaches of Dore lake. Myrtel and I played all day, while the men did their chores and Bessie Appleby cooked and cared for the cabin.

One clear night, Earl said we needed fresh meat. He made a moose caller out of birchbark and started calling for a moose. It wasn't very long before he got an answer. A big bull moose came running down the shore. Earl ran for a tree and up he went. We all got in the canoe and paddled out a ways. The moose kept him up the tree all night, while we canoed up and down the lake. At daylight, the moose gave up.

I can remember when Earl and Jean were building a tower. Bessie, Myrtel, and I were picking blueberries. The patch was so large, that on the far side a mother bear and two cubs were also picking berries. They never bothered us. Myrtel got tired, so Bessie laid her down in the boat for a sleep; putting a mosquito net over her. We went back to the berry patch to pick. When we came back to the boat to empty our pails, we noticed a bear had been in the boat. He ate and mashed a bucket of berries, but never bothered Myrtel.

For an exciting fall evening, Myrtel and I would undress Earl Appleby's feet. They would get real bad cracks in the fall of the year from the long tracking through the bush, to check up on the fire towers for the winter. We girls would rub bear grease on his feet and wrap up each toe in white rags, that Auntie Bess would give up. Earl would fall asleep. Then out would come the brush and combs and we would fix up his hair.

In the fall, we headed for Dore Lake Island, where we spent many long cold winter nights. Bessie gave us our schooling there. Earl and Jean fished on Dore Lake. Mrs. Appleby made fur hats out of muskrats and sold them to the fishermen and trappers.

One of the saddest days of our lives, was the day we arrived in Big River from Dore lake, and Earl said goodbye to us. He and Bessie broke up. He left town and a few days later Bessie left for Waterways, Alberta.

Jean Howe moved to Big River when we did. He drowned in the River, some call it Crooked River, Cowan River or Big River. He and Ale Jordon went up the river one afternoon. What for I don't remember, Ale came back alone and said Jean had drowned. They looked for days, for his body but didn't find it. Jean could swim like a fish. When Ale Jordon was lying on his dying bed, he told police that Jean did not drown, but that he had killed him. They had a fight in the boat over a girl they both went with. Ale told the police the place he had buried Jean. They dug and found the remains of his body. Not a happy ending for such a happy-go-lucky boy as Jean."

It is evident from the above account, that the first fire rangers were responsible for maintaining a very large area. It could only be serviced by continually travelling from one camp to another throughout the summer season.

During the 1930's and 40's, a settlement was developing and the population had increased in the district. This made it necessary to acquire more personnel and construct further facilities to insure proper fire protection and forest maintenance.

In 1938, a Ranger Cabin was built at the terminus of the Dore-Smoothstone fire guard, along the west shore of Smoothstone Lake. A freighter canoe and an outboard motor was used by the patrolmen. (Over a period of time the name ranger was changed to patrolman).

In the early 1940's, the Dore Lake Radio Cabin was constructed at East Bay. Also at this time, the Beaupre Ranger Cabin and a stable was constructed on the west side of Beaupre Lake, adjacent to the Dore Lake Road.

In 1947, the Department of Natural Resources reported that the fire protection facilities in the area were poor.

The wooden tower located west of the Dore lake Radio Cabin on Michel Peninsula, was classified unsatisfactory as a lookout tower. Furthermore, one tower could not serve the purpose of pinpointing fires, over such a large region. Therefore, in 1948, two steel towers were erected. One was located on a hill one and a half miles west of Murry's Point. The second was constructed at Rabbit Hill, a distance of two miles from the Lake. In 1949, a twelve by fourteen lumber cabin was erected at Rabbit Hill to house towermen during the summer months.

In 1925, a small log ranger cabin was constructed at Sled Lake. In 1949, the site was expanded. A new eighteen by twenty-four foot office and warehouse, and a twelve by eighteen foot log and lumber garage were built. The living quarters was once a boat house, that was remodelled into a cabin. Mr. F.W. Redhead was the first resource officer to live in this remodelled site. He referred to this new site as, "Sled Lake House". The resource officer stationed at Sled, serviced the Rabbit Hill Tower and was responsible for patrols along the Dore lake Road, and the summer road to Smoothstone Lake.

As Dore Lake's fishing, logging and fur farm industries expanded and the settlement grew, it was necessary to establish an administration headquarters. By 1950, eighty percent of the resource officers work in the district was concentrated at the settlement.

In 1951, the Department of Natural Resources, constructed a headquarter house, garage, office, tool house, fur cache, bunkhouse, and dug a forty foot well. This new site was built in the South Bay area, commonly known as D.N.S. Point.

Several new developments occurred with the establishment of an administration headquarters. The Beaupre Cabin, Dore Lake Radio Cabin, and the Sled lake headquarters were eventually closed down. Secondly, resources personnel were stationed at the new site all year round.

The first resource officer stationed at the new headquarters was Ted Arsenault from Big River. Mr. Arsenault had worked several years as a resource officer in the area. He was stationed at Sled lake, and Beaupre Cabin before taking the permanent position at the new headquarters. The following is Ted Arsenault's account of the days he spent as a patrolman and resource officer in the Dore lake district.

"In November, 1947, I enrolled in a two year Forestry Course in Prince Albert.

In the summer of 1948, my wife May and our little girl, Eileen, and myself moved to Sled Lake. We lived in a small log cabin on the lake shore. My wife adjusted well to northern living, considering she was used to the city life in Scotland. We were never without visitors.

Mr. Bud Bauma operated a sawmill for the Saskatchewan Timber Board there. His wife, Eva, took care of a small store and taught Sunday School. There were many families living at Sled lake then; Narcise Mirasty and family, George Roy and family, Victor Lariviere and family and the Mathew Kilbreath family. Mrs. Vern Orange, was the first school teacher at that time.

The fall and winter of 1948-49, was again spent in Prince Albert attending Forestry School. I was then posted to Big River and then to Beaupre. We lived in Beaupre Cabin when our son Terry was two months old. Beaupre was a lonely location. The animals came right through our yard. There was a den of foxes nearby. Blueberries and strawberries were in abundance and we only had to go a short distance, where we picked raspberries by the pailfull.

We would often visit Harry Husak at Dore Lake, and buy a few supplies from his store. Evenings at Beaupre were spent listening to the radio and reading. Mr. Hubert Smith from the Shantyman's Christian Association, often made his headquarters with us. He made his way from one logging camp to another, most of the time he walked. In the winter, he pulled a toboggan with only his sleeping bag and a few necessities on it.

In 1951, we moved to Dore lake Headquarters. Our closest neighbour was Chris Stepper. Harry Husak lived at the Bay and Tom and Mary McBride lived nearby. I tried to get to Big River every two weeks, where I would pick up mail and supplies for the settlement.

There were many field officers that were stationed at Dore Lake over the years. These are the names of the men who worked for the Resources Department over the years: Clarence Snell, Ernie Overs, Clarence Williams, Charlie Salt, Herb McPhail, Barry McLellan, Glenn Rolls, Frank Andres, Larry Giesbrecht, Gilbert Simone, Ferdie Edquist and Jack Keel".

Dore Lake Cabin, which stood on the beach.
Dore Lake Cabin,
which stood on the beach where the camp kitchen now stands at Tower Beach. L-R Dawson Bekett, Joyce Johnson, and the field officer Clarence Snell. Summer, 1946.
Ted Arsenault. First DNR uniforms, 1952.
Ted Arsenault. First DNR uniforms, 1952.

Freighter Harry Harrison, with Myrtel: center and Florence Olsen.
Freighter Harry Harrison, with Myrtel: center and Florence Olsen.

Dore Lake Headquarters.
Dore Lake Headquarters.

Lightning strike letter.
Letter telling of a lightning strike at Dore Lake Headquarters.

Dore Lake Headquarters house under construction.
Dore Lake Headquarters house under construction.

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Author: Webmaster - jkcc.com
"Date Modified: July 9, 2024."

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