The Cozy Main Lodge

bearsdenreversed1948Bear’s Den Lodge, a “historical” museum, was built in 1925 for a New York Banker, H. Martin. Mr. Martin hired Bud West, local tourist lodge operator, to build a lodge on the property were an old logging camp used to stand. Bud hired Sandy Mower, Sylvester Ritchie and some of the Thompson family to help with the project.  Photos indicated that 1924 construction started on site. Two years after the lodge was finished, Mr. Martin was unable to continue to visit the lodge due to his involvement in some financial and legal problems.  According to Bill Maxwell, a previous owner of Bear’s Den Lodge, shared that Mr. Martin used the C.N.R. Railroads’ supplies, equipment, and employees that lead to being jailed.

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His wife, Elizabeth, and her sister turned the property into a commercial resort catering mostly to New York clients who arrived by train wearing “fancy dresses, top-hats and many were accompanied by servants.” Mrs. Elizabeth Martin loved the “Bear’s Den” and lower French; so much so, requested in her will that she’d be cremated and her ashes scattered over the rock formation surrounding Bear’s Den Bay.

Since 1986, we have been restoring and maintaining the lodge to its finer days. The maple floor is maintained with the original birch bark railing to allow for the character and charm of days gone by. Above the massive white quartz fireplace in the main lodge, built by Sylvester Ritchie from the quartz blaze in the front yard, is the 59 lb. 11 oz. muskie on display along with other fish replicas, skin, and fur mounts. Fish photos, scenic photos, and bear hunting photos are displayed throughout the camp along with historical documents and photo albums.

We celebrated the 90th year of the lodge last year along with our 30th year operating the Bear’s Den Lodge. We encourage you to step back 90 years in time, breathe the fresh air, listen to the birds singing, watch the bears play, or stop to smell the lilies and flowers in the flower and rock gardens throughout the grounds. Join us in the nature and great outdoors in Ontario! Breathe-taking outdoor experiences await you during your next Canadian fishing adventures. Share your old photos, stories and history of Bear’s Den and the French River.

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The French River Salmon Run Wild

Salmon on the French River Delta, Ontario Canada

A Pink Salmon Ends the Fall Season

Fishing on the French River Delta is home to some the most diverse freshwater species of game fish, known most predominantly for its muskie, walleye, pike, large and smallmouth bass fishing.  However, these waters and fishery are also a home to the pinks, chinook, and coho as they migrate from Lake Huron to Georgian Bay and into the French River Delta to lay their eggs.  The salmon make their journey into the system as early as July, but are very rarely seen before September through November.

Often times anglers snag salmon while fishing for walleye or even muskie.  Fisherman are surprised and often do not recognize their catch and confuse it for a different species, such as trout.  Trout normally are not .

Average pink salmon weighs 3-5 lbs at maturity and can reach as high as 10 lbs.  The fins have large oval black spots on the caudal fin (tail fin) and reach maturity in 2 years.  A prominent hump helps to distinguish between a male from the female pink salmon.  The above pink salmon is pre-spawn that was photographed and then released.

Chinook is the largest of the three species of salmon in the French River and can tip the scale at 126 lbs, but rarely do the top the scale at 60 lbs with averages of 18 lbs.  They exhibit irregular black spots on their back dorsal fin and both lobes of the caudal fin.  Approximately in one year, a male chinook can reach maturity and they can begin to spawn.  Life and spawn expectancy is up to 8 years.  A male salmon, in the sandy-gravel spawning beds will become progressively blacker while the female becomes a brassy color.

Coho salmon, also known as hooknose or silver salmon, since 1967 have provided an immense fishery for the Great Lakes, of which the French River is a part of.  Silvery in color with black spots located only at the top of the caudal fin and the coho has a ‘white gum line’ at the needle like teeth bases.  Some cohos weigh up to 33 lbs, but most weigh an average of 6-12 lbs at maturity.  Spawning occurs from October until February and normally in gravel beds.  These fish can live up to 4 years and do not travel far from their birthplace.

The French River ended its fishing season at Bear’s Den Lodge with a guest catching his first pink salmon. What a great ending to a great season with this fisherman delighted!

Bear’s Den Lodge Inspired by Nature for 90 Years – A Diamond in the Wilderness

French River landscape, nature in Canada, geological , history, Champlain, river, Canadian shield, wildlife,  Ontario Parks, French River Delta, Pristine, Explore, Experience, Discover Ontario
French River Delta landscape of granite rock, pine trees and more to appreciate.

Does nature inspire you? If yes, Bear’s Den Lodge would like to share an inspiring “place” some call a “special place”, a “simple life” and to others, it is a “bit of heaven on earth” for the past 90 years. This diamond, or jewel in the North provides you the opportunity to become a part of a significant part of Canadian history some 400 years ago during Champlain’s journey through the French River.

Imagine journeying these corridors 400 years ago in a canoe with Champlain. New and adventurous waters lay ahead; not knowing what nature had in store. Between these magnificent granite rocks with white quartz blazes were sparkling diamonds in the blue water reflecting the magnificent sky and landscape it enjoyed. Today, being a protected and the first Canadian Heritage Provincial Park it remains much unchanged. Nature and wildlife have been an important treasure to protect in our French River Provincial Park and waterways.

Magnificent scenery and landscape on the French River inspired a New York banker, Mr. Martin and his wife in 1925 to build their summer home, Bear’s Den Lodge. Having most likely arrived by train, they traveled to what today is Bear’s Den Bay to build their elaborate home. It sits majestically overlooking this bountiful bay, a finger off Hartley Bay, French River. A panoramic view of nature exists from this high point with snowshoe rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, an occasional deer or bear wandering by. Inside a local resident created a masterpiece from nature using white quartz and nuggets of gold to create the massive fireplace.

Nature comes in all sizes and shapes. The dotted islands with scrubby trees add character and share the results of harsh and worn years of glaciers, extreme weathering and harsh winters with leaning pine swept tree to the artist’s palette. Water trickles after the rain from rocky cliffs and streams meander around boulders to areas of whitewater.

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Great Blue Heron soaring over the French River.

Wildlife abounds. Great blue herons, osprey, red tailed hawks, or the magnificent bald eagle calling to their mates or territory from overhead, loons dancing on the water or hidden in the birch and coniferous trees are the bulging of the elk.

Strolling the wildlife trails leads to rays of sun bursting through the trees lighting the ground cover of a variety of wild mushrooms, berries, moss, boulders, and hidden lakes to explore.

Do you appreciate nature, outdoor adventures, or capturing nature though a lens? If so, join us in celebrating the nature adventures that inspired Mr. and Mrs. Martin to create 90 year ago, Bear’s Den Lodge – truly a diamond in the wilderness.