Jan 13, 2016

What`s up with the cabin names?

Many people have noticed that our cabin names are somewhat random and have asked “What’s up with the Cabin Names?” While many are lakes in Algonquin Park, others seem quite strange. Former Tamakwa Owner/Director Dave Bale has the answers!

In the early 80’s we began rebuilding many of the older cabins…the first new cabin was built on the rocky plateau above the old archery range and behind what was then the Medicine Lodge (now Happy Isle). Because it was so new and luxurious compared to all the other cabins, the girls living in it informally referred to it as Club Med. The name stuck.

Next we replaced the decaying boys cabin overlooking Canoe Bay with a big double cabin. This time, we figured WE better give it a name before it gets “informally” named something else. For it’s obvious location, we called it Bayview.

During the fall construction of Bayview, Vic and I stuck around and tried helping with the construction project. To the building crew – mainly consisting of Ken Elder, Larry Shawn, Libby Sadick and Chip Fontana – we were probably more of a hindrance than a help and they jokingly (or maybe not so jokingly) used to say it was like having Bert and Ernie on the construction site. So when the next two cabins were replaced on Girls Hill (the first cabins to have upstairs lofts), because they were a pair of new cabins, Ken named them Bert and Ernie.

Then… to complete the set, we decided to name all the others. We did so also because on the repair request forms in the office that went to Ken, it asked “which cabin?” Counsellors would report a broken screen, for example, in the “second cabin up the hill next to the birch tree.” Since some counsellors couldn’t count or didn’t know a birch from a maple we needed a more accurate system. So we decided to label each structure.

Some cabins we named for their historical relevance or the personalities dear to us, like Fanning, Omer, Kal and Ada or Unca and Esta. When it came to naming the rest, we thought it appropriate that they be named for a place or lake in the Park. Late one night we had a brainstorming session, with the help of the Algonquin Park Name Guide booklet, published by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Some cabins just named themselves, like Happy Isle (surrounded by the swamp) or Ballfield (leading to the path to the ballfield).

Naming the cluster of three cabins on Teepee Hill was a natural: Smoke, Ragged and Big Porky, the typical canoe route traveled by Foresters, who live on that hill.

At the top of Voyageur Hill, like the top of Algonquin Park is Kiosk. And on the trail up to it, we tried our best to name cabins for the great Algonquin lakes in the order they lead north.

Before it was refurbished, the cabin named Crow was unanimously named by Vic and me because it… how shall I say?… reminded us of the schlectest day of paddling and portaging we’d encountered on our 12 Day many years ago on the Crow River.

For the long cabin that actually used to be two cabins linked together, Dixon Bonfield made perfect sense. There used to be a cabin in Main Camp that we named Last Resort. It’s no longer there, but if you would have spent any time there, you’d instantly understand why it got its name.

The “prettiest” lakes or names were used for the Girls Camp cabins, i.e. Radiant, Opalescent, Namakootchie and so on. The largest cabin at the time on Girls Hill was named for the Park’s largest lake: Opeongo.

Some names started as unofficial nicknames, with no Algonquin reference, such as Siberia (the most remote far removed cabin) and the Authoritarian cabin, where many a Section Head or Canoe Tripper lodged over the years. The only cabin that had an official name with a sign that preceded our rebuilding campaign was Home of the Beavers, first cabin up Transportation Hill. Why that name? Don’t ask; I have no idea.

-Dave Bale

P.S. Around the same time that we named cabins, we started naming other landmarks. In most cases names relate to what goes on there: Plat-Forum (sports complex for Basketball and Hockey), Art Deck-O (deck/stage adjacent to the Arts Lodge) and of course, Eye-Full Tower (you can see everything from up there).

There are many aspects of Tamakwa that are special and quirky and often Tamakwans (new and old) find themselves wondering “What’s up with that?” After this summer’s SNL video “What is this?”, staring Rachel “Drama” Manson and Joeley Pulver, our newest blog segment was born!

If you think of anything that makes you think “What’s Up With That?”, please email them to us at howhow@tamakwa.com and we might just answer them on a future blog!

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