Harry Husak and Gier Thorden

Dore Lake Politics and Growth

Trapping gear. Trapping gear.

The Dore Lake Local Advisory Council was formed in 1974, with the inception of Local Government in Northern Saskatchewan. The Council is elected to advise Senior Governments in Saskatchewan, of the needs of the district. The Local Council does not collect or receive tax money from the district but is allotted a per capita grant. The first meeting was held on August 19, 1974. The following members were elected: Ida Johnson, Ernestine Laliberte, Florence Viden, Robert Snell and Harry Edquist. The Local Advisory Council in Dore Lake has been instrumental in developing such projects as; clearing a beach, providing playground equipment, building two ice houses, serving the fishermen, redoing the curling rink roof, providing street lighting at the townsite, and having the district road regraded. They subsidize community endeavours such as; movies, swimming instruction, curling events, summer employment for students and the Celebrate Saskatchewan events.

The Growth of a Community.

It is interesting to note some significant conclusions regarding the social structure, settlement patterns and technological innovations that occurred throughout the community's development.

Historical records indicate that a settlement did not exist at Dore Lake before 1909. However, it is known that a Metis by the name of Michel Durocher and his family resided at the east bay of Dore Lake before 1909. There is no information telling where Michel was from or when he first arrived at Dore Lake. However, it can be speculated that this man originated from Ile-a-la Crosse. According to the Robert Longpres' history of "Ile-a-la Crosse 1776-1976", there were several Durochers employed with the Hudson's Bay Company as trappers and fur traders, during the mid and late 1800s. These men were often sent, with their families, to remote areas to "winter" for the Bay Company. It is highly probably that Michel used the Dore Lake area as a Hudson Bay Company trapline. He would then take his furs by canoe to Ile-a-la Crosse.

It is interesting to note the location of Michel's habitat. The East Bay of Dore Lake is the closest point to Smoothstone Lake (see map). There is an ancient portage trail, approximately three miles long, that joins the two Lakes. Michel located near the portage to become accessible to both lakes. He probably trapped the Smoothstone area as well, and took his furs to Ile-a-la Crosse, along the Beaver River and returned via the Churchill River System, through Snake Lake, along the Smoothstone River and into Smoothstone Lake, (or vice-versa).

The second well-known settler in the area was the Metis squatter, Baptiste Mirasty. Baptiste arrived at Sled Lake in 1896 from Ile-a-la Crosse. Like Michel Durocher, Baptiste also originated from Ile-a-la Crosse. The first mention of the name Mirasty in northern Saskatchewan appears in the Hudson Bay Company's files of 1857. Philip Merasty earned his livelihood as a "freeman". A "freeman" was a trapper and fur trader who was not employed with the Hudson Bay Co. He trapped freely and traded his furs to whom he wished.

Note: the name Mirasty has been spelt "Mirasty" and "Merasty". It appears from the available evidence that the difference only occurs in spelling and not clan origin. Other Merastys also appear in the Hudson Bay Company's files of 1865-66 - a Bazile and David.

It is most likely that Baptiste Mirasty was a "free-man". Since he was not tied to the Hudson's Bay Company in Ile-a-la Crosse, he left in 1896 to settle and trap freely and to sell his furs to whom he wished.

It is significant to indicate the various settlement patterns that developed over the decades. From 1909 to 1940, many of the fisherfolk chose the islands to settle on, i.e. Big Island, Camp Four, Dog Island, Smith's Island and Burnt Island.

Several reasons can be speculated as to why the islands attracted these people. Travel on nature's highways was more convenient than trying to cut roads through the dense bush. The settlers travelled easily over the clear flat ice by sleigh and horse from island to island setting up camps, visiting, and going to Big River. During the summer months, canoes were used as the method of transportation.

Secondly, it was more efficient to establish a fish camp on an island. The camps were located centrally on the water, allowing free access in setting nets at all points on the Lake.

The population of Dore Lake fluctuated considerably from the winter and summer months through 1909 to 1940. Most of the population during this period was transient. Many fishermen left during the summer season to other employment in the south and returned in the winter to commercial fish.

It was not until the late 1930s and early 1940's that the beginnings of a permanent settlement appeared at Dore Lake. There are several obvious reasons why a permanent settlement began to develop at that time. In 1945, Waite Fisheries built a refrigerated filletting plant at Murry's Point. The technological innovation of refrigeration methods brought summer fishing to Dore Lake. Fishermen were now employed all year round. It was not necessary to travel south every summer seeking other work.

The fishermen's daily catch was brought to the Point. Murry's Point became the central place of residence. During the 1940s approximately eight families resided at, or in the vicinity of Murry's Point, along with the plant's employees who lived in Waite's cabins.

Another new development that enhanced a permanent settlement during this period was mink ranching. Mink ranching is a demanding operation, requiring the rancher to remain at home all year round. Verner and Carl Johnson's pioneering spirit convinced others that it was an economical industry to invest in. Most of the settlers at Murry's Point and surrounding area were mink ranchers and commercial fishermen.

The growth of a permanent settlement, enhanced the need for some basic services. During the 1940s, a postal service was established, the public wharf was built, and the construction of a road to Big River was underway by 1949.

It is important to mention that there had always been a resident at the South End of Dore, because of the stopping place that had been in operation since the early days.

In 1960, the location of the settlement changed for the third and final time. By 1960, a road had been constructed to the South End. That same year a school was established in the D.N.R. garage, which was located at South End. The families residing at Murry's Point and from around the Lake wished to send their children to school and become accessible to the road to Big River. Therefore, the residents moved their houses and mink ranches to the South End of Dore Lake.

During the 1960s, the population of Dore Lake stabilized and grew. Several new families moved to the South End of Dore Lake from the smaller surrounding communities.

Jules and Elizabeth Aubichon, moved from Beauval to Michel Point and later to the South End. Jules is a retired trapper, but still commercial fishes at Dore Lake today. Elsie and Albert Roy also moved from Beauval to Dore Lake. Albert is a retired fisherman and trapper but still maintains his cabin along the Dore River, which he visits during moose hunting season. Albert also acts as a guide for the many hunters from the south during moose hunting season. Albert and Elsie have six children: Teresa, Vital, Alex, Darwin and Tiny.

Ben Tuchinski retired to the South End of Dore Lake during the 1960s. Ben used to trap and fish at the north end of Dore Lake during the 1930s. Tom and Ernestine Laliberte moved from Smoothstone Lake, where Tom trapped, fished and operated a mink ranch. Tom now works for D.N.S. and is semi-retired. Tom and Ernestine have three children: Shirley, Rod and Leslie. Joe Rickelton also moved into the area at this time. Joe is employed with D.N.S. He and his wife Phyllis have two children: Edna and Randy.

Although the population of Dore Lake grew during the 1960s, it was and still is considered an unincorporated community. To become incorporated certain municipal regulations regarding services must be met. When the census is taken of unincorporated communities, the statistics are compiled together into one total, therefore it is difficult to state the population totals for the various years. It would have been interesting to study the fluctuations of the population in Dore Lake over the seventy-three year period of the community's development.

The stabilization and growth of the community during the 1960s did, however, call for several new services to be added. A curling rink and hail was built in 1967, a church was established, and a local governing body was instituted.

During the 1970s, several new families, some second and third-generation descendants of the original settlers, moved into the community. Victor, George and Alice Durocher, brothers and sister, moved from Smoothstone Lake. Victor and George are commercial fishermen on Dore Lake today. Ruth Wilson, from Smoothstone Lake and also Frank Schloegel Sr.'s granddaughter, and her three children, Jody, Troy, and Colby reside at Dore. Brenda Schloegel, also Frank Schloegel Sr.'s granddaughter and her two children Rodrick and Franklin reside at Dore Lake.

Ferdie Edquist, a commercial fisherman and conservation officer, resides at South End with his two children, Karen and Eldon.

Mervin and Donna McKay from Sled Lake also moved into the area at this time. Mervin is employed with D.N.S. They have three children; Paul, Kevin and Angela.

"How times change! From coal oil lamps to electricity and telephones. One must admit the electricity is a God-send. But we still have people who come and ask if they couldn't have a coal oil lamp to show their grandchildren what was used in the early days at Dore Lake."

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Author: Webmaster - jkcc.com
"Date Modified: July 10, 2024."

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