With great sadness we say goodbye to one of Camp Wanapitei’s longest standing community members.
Larry and Bruce (his brother) grew up immersed in the life of camping from an early age. Stanley and Laura Bell (parents), Bruce, and Larry, canoe tripped in the Temagami area as early as 1936. In 1944 until 1955, Laura Bell and Stanley managed Camp Wabanaki, a YMCA camp on Beausoleil Island, in Georgian Bay. This is where both the boys learned to swim, canoe, appreciate the outdoors while rarely wearing shoes and for Larry it was the start of his love for sailing. In 1956 Stan and Laura Bell purchased Camp Wanapitei on the shores of Sandy Inlet. Because Stanley was tied up as a Principal in Kitchener and Bruce was immersed in his first teaching job in Charlottetown, PEI, that left Larry and Laura Bell opening, and for the most part running, Camp Wanapitei for the first few years. The co-ed camp was small at first with between 25 and 45 campers but the spring and fall were very busy with fishermen and hunters. Larry fondly recalled the experiences he shared with Dick Twain, Bella White, and the rest of the gang particularly refurbishing the old cabins, helping haul in 40 lb trouts, and shooting a black bear from the upstairs window in the Chateau (that particular room was thereafter named the “Bear Room”). He was proud to say he was given the task by Laura Bell of choosing the camp colours (white and blue) and helped create the Wanapitei chant. Larry pioneered the first Lady Evelyn Loop canoe trip in June of 1956, on which later that summer Bruce led a group of Pioneer Boys. In 1957 Larry prepared a comprehensive BA Thesis on the economic geography of Lake Temagami. He introduced sailing to Wanapitei and led several multiple day sailing trips on Lake Temagami.
His life with his beloved wife Nancy in the 60’s lead him away from Wanapitei and his focus and teaching (Canadian Physical Geography) drifted to western Canada They later returning to Ontario and he started teaching at York University in 1970 where he introduced canoe tripping to his students. He claimed he was the top paying customer for Wanapitei for some years when he was outfitting his University Canoe trips which paddled all over northern Canada from the Yukon to Baffin Island and also on the prairies. He taught extensive topographic and air photo map reading and used these on all his canoe trips. Several of Wanapitei’s V2 groups have touch on waterways that Larry paddled back in the 70’s and 80’s.
Nancy and Larry purchased a 26’ MacGregor in 1990 and sailed huge water such as Great Slave Lake and Georgian Bay and occasionally would come around Ferguson Point in full sail anchoring just off the Wanapitei Chateau Beach. He would stand on the decks and proudly survey his surroundings. For the past couple of years, he was known to watch the sailing lessons on the beach in front of the Singoose camper cabin. I am sure it made the sailing instructors nervous but it was only a matter of time before he had those instructors wrapped around his fingers and out sailing with him.
Sailing continued to be his passion only outshone by his love for Nancy (passed away in 2002) and his never-ending love of dancing and jazz music. In early September, at the age of 82, and with his pride and joy ‘Splash Dancer’ he and his daughter, Jackie, enjoyed an incredible 3 days sailing on the water circumventing Beausoleil Island, reminiscing about the good old days and sharing some special times.
It was so wonderful to see Bruce and Larry laughing, poking fun at each other, and relaxing in front of Bruce and Carol’s cabin, “Kesis” this past summer (2017). As the two strolled around camp, it was hard not to compare the two to Laura Bell and Stanley …. a reminder of the circle of life …..
Jackie Hodgins, November 2017
from Kate Morrow (Cathy Squires)
I attended Wanapitei, starting in 1956 for several years. During those years, I spent an average of two and a half months there each summer. It was my second home.
My maiden name was Squires and back then a lot of people called me Cathy.
Larry taught me to sail. In 1957 or 1958 he was participating in a sailing race against some of the more established and definitely wealthier camps on the lake. He asked me to crew for him. I was dazzled to be his second. We sailed an old and leaky gaff rig and my job was to bail as fast as I could for hours. It was one of the best days of my young life just to be there with him.