Thomas Harry (Harry) Stevenson the son of Henry Stevenson and Elizabeth Halliday, grew up in Renfrew, ON and on July 9, 1939 his 30th birthday, left on holidays with the intention of looking for a place to start his dream. Until then he was working underground at Hollinger Mines in Timmins, ON.

He and his brother Ernest (Ernie) had a dream of establishing a fishing camp. The two brothers borrowed a car from their other brother Norman and headed to Calabogie, ON. A game warden there suggested they head up to Combermere and find some property. When they arrived here they met with Mel Inwood, a local game warden who suggested the Stevensons set up at this location.

Harry moved from Timmins shortly thereafter and set up a tent beside the Madawaska River and went to work clearing the land of large tall pines. Harry and Ernie hired several local men to help clear the land for a lodge and some cabins A year later four log sleeping cabins were finished with two double beds and four small cabins with one double bed in each. When first opened, the Stevenson’s Lodge was charging $18 per week for room and three meals a day. Harry and Ernie lived in cabin #2 for six years which is still used by guests today.

As the years went on Harry married Gertrude Hortense (Tenny) Gibbons, a woman from Cape Breton who came to the lodge in 1947. She would make guests breakfast, a bagged lunch and supper every day. Tenny was renowned in the area for her excellent cooking. Brian, their son, says that she was a real jokester.

Many guests have been coming to the lodge for many years. Some as long as 58 years in a row, not missing a year. Guests remember getting the annual letter from Harry at Christmas. It would detail happenings at the lodge throughout the year. People from as far as Australia, Germany, England, Scotland, and New York enjoyed the lodge over the years. Some of the most notable guests included painters A.Y. Jackson and A. J. Casson, members of the Group of Seven.  They both loved to paint on the shores of the Madawaska and surrounding area.

Harry’s two sons Brian and Ralph took over the lodge in January 1988 after Harry and Ernie retired after 50 years in the lodge business.

On December 15, 1988, tragedy struck when a vehicle carrying Tenny (77), Ernest (71), his wife Jean (Mahon) (58), collided with a tractor-trailer owned by G.W. Martin Lumber driven by Robert Madill on Highway #60 at Mundt’s Mill on Golden Lake. Snow was on the ground and the vehicle hit an icy patch. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.

Today the property has 2,100 feet of waterfront and 15 cabins. Most of the guests come to stay for the fishing, the friendly nature of the people and the rustic nature of the cabins. Ralph operates an outboard motor repair shop and marina, much like Ernie did many years ago. The 75th anniversary of that dream was celebrated in July 2014.

COMBERMERE HERITAGE WALK, A PROJECT BY THE COMBERMERE HERITAGE SOCIETY INC. – 2014