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Haliburton Scout Reserve History

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Brief HSR History

At the close of World War II, the Toronto Scout District (eventually to become the Greater Toronto Council) asked their Camping Committee to find a suitable location for a rugged area of land available for a Scout Camp for older Scouting members within reasonable driving distance from Toronto.

After months of searching, they discovered that the Mill Valley Lumber Company was completing timber cutting on 4,150 acres in Dudley Township in Haliburton County. The council approved the purchase of 4,150 acres and thus the original HSR, then named Camp Kennabi, came into being in the fall of 1946. Most of the original buildings were those used by the lumber company and many are still in use, such as Kennaway, Mill Valley and Cooky Cabins and Kennabi Lodge. Additional acres were purchased in the following years to complete the Reserve as we know it today.

The first troops camped in 1947 on the north shore of Kennabi Lake, with one canoe and two army trucks being the transportation available. These were the 81st Toronto from Rosedale United Church, the 22nd Toronto from St. Paul’s Anglican Church (Bloor Street) and the 101st Toronto from Windermere United Church. The first sites in use were Twister Point and Big Bear. Field Commissioner James C. Moore, known to all as “J.C.”, was the first Camp Chief, with a staff of five senior Scouts. J.C. was the person instrumental in finding the property which was to become HSR and served as the Camp Ranger for 25 years until his death in 1972. Moore Lake and the JC Trail were named in his memory.

A building campaign was undertaken in 1949 with the original camp hospital (now Bayview Lodge), Pow-Wow Lodge and other cabins built. In 1953 the Kitchen was added to “the Hub”. Also, in 1953, Camp Kennaway for composite camping experiences came into existence. Both camps continued to prosper and grow until 1958 when, due to duplicate administration and mounting costs, the two camps merged into one – the Haliburton Scout Reserve.

HSR celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1972. A new hospital was built in 1985 and a new Country Store and Administration Office built in 1991 and dedicated to the memory of another long time Camp Ranger, Jack Dobson. The original camp headquarters, Kennabi Lodge was restored in 1994 by the HSR Staff Alumni and dedicated to the memory of a twenty-one-year veteran staff member, Frank Standing. Various cabins have been added and renovated since this time.

HSR celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1997 with a reunion of staff campers, and Scouters. In July 2007 a similar event celebrated the 60th anniversary with camp tours and recognition of staff from the early years. This coincided with the 100th Anniversary of Scouting in Canada. In 2012, HSR hosted Scouts Canada’s first national Venturer Scout event, “Adventure 2012”. Venturers from coast to coast came to experience unique adventure programming at HSR including duck hunting, cycling to the Samac Adventure Base for challenge games, climbing challenges, paddling and target games off Pine Island. and an overnight hike using the Dobson, JC and Cooper’s Loop trails to and from Hurst Lake.

HSR continues to be the largest Scout Camp in Canada and the summer home to Scouts and Scouters from all over Canada. Each year, we welcome scouts from many other countries such as the United States and Britain. More than fifty staff continue to be led by experienced senior staff to offer safe, great adventures.

The Haliburton Scout Reserve Staff Alumni Association has created several information boards on our trails which explain the rich history of the property prior to it becoming the reserve. The Staff Alumni Association also has an independent website with more historical details.

Scouts Canada, the country’s leading youth organization, offers challenging programs for boys, girls and youth age 5-26 in thousands of individual groups in most cities and towns across Canada.

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