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Paddling with the Spirit


In the 1920s, numerous protestant churches in York County experienced a decline in their teenaged congregation members. To address this problem, a group of young ministers created a Boys' Work Committee to develop programs to interest young people. Their first solution was a summer camp for boys. 

A suitable site for rent was found on Georgina Island in Lake Simcoe, home of a Chippewa Band, First Nations. With the invaluable help of the Big Canoe family, Camp Ahshyunyoong (meaning bright or shining) opened in 1931. Soon after, the newly organized Canadian Girls in Training also rented space, and they shared the site, each responsible for 1 month during the summer. 

After 35 years on the shores of Lake Simcoe, the camp began several moves that led to its final home on Hart Lake, near Bracebridge, in Muskoka. The new site, Camp Big Canoe, was named and blessed by the camp's long-time friend, Lorenzo Big Canoe. 

Paddling with the Spirit tells the story of Camp Big Canoe, how it began, how it grew, how it values its First Nations' heritage, and how it became an important part in the lives of many who have treasured memories of happy times at camp.