Lake association working to protect portage routes 

By Sue Tiffin

Gino Ariano and Jim Prince of the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners’ Association presented to Dysart et al council on Oct. 22 on their traditional rights of way project for which they’ve been researching key portage routes in the area in an effort to ensure the routes are preserved and maintained.

Multiple portage routes throughout the area allow for access from Kennisis and Redstone Lakes to lakes or rivers in Haliburton Forest the Frost Centre area and into Algonquin Park.

“As an association we’re committed to maintaining these routes these portage routes” said Ariano. “And it’s not just for property owners on Kennisis Lake it’s for other people in the county who want to move through the area and it’s also for visitors who come into Dysart and the county more broadly so that they can move around [these lake systems].”

Ariano said that “as more properties are developed these routes are being compromised” and it was essential to develop an educational outreach program that includes portage signage to ensure property owners and portage route users are aware of rights and responsibilities regarding protection and use of the routes.

The KLCOA focused on three noted portages around Kennisis Lake: Lipsy Lake to Kennisis Lake (Soap Pond); Klaxton Lake to Lipsy Lake and Cat Lake to Kennisis Lake (Cat Bay) reviewing in detail the parcel registers and surveys or plans for the routes. The portages cross parcels of land that are public or private with deeds to private property including the express right to portage over the land according to the KLCOA.

Ariano said through liaising with other lake associations he understood some property owners on Lipsy Lake might be concerned about the routes and invasive species.

“They’d prefer or at least what we’ve been told is they’d prefer that this be closed and the fact of the matter is they can’t close it it’s legal and it should remain open. Not to discount any other concerns but the bottom line is it has to remain open.”

Besides extensive legal research the association has also conducted interviews with canoeists who had used the routes as long ago as 1955 and through additional historical research has uncovered a newspaper article and camp brochures noting the routes. The association plans to research Indigenous use of the routes from original Crown survey notes and treaty documents. Ariano said he was “pleasantly surprised” with feedback from Echo readers with knowledge of the routes to an article about the project published last spring including supportive property owners.

Moving forward Ariano asked for council to maintain rights of way recognize traditional rights of way throughout the municipality and in particular in the Kennisis watershed and endorse the work done by KLCOA. Additionally he asked that the township look into confirming and recognizing other traditional rights of ways in the municipality and alongside Algonquin Highlands collaborate to work at promoting maintaining and creating a more viable network of routes.

Councillors were supportive of the KLCOA and the work they’d done on the project.