Of the fifty-five or so buildings around site, only one carries the name “Bark”.
Before becoming the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre in 1948, the southern shore of the lake was used as a hunting and fishing camp. The first noteworthy structure was Bark Lodge.
In the late 1930s, the Snor and Simmons families built Bark Lodge as the main building of the camp. It was around this time that other buildings, such as the Paddle Shack, Poplar, and Hemlock were also built. Supplies for the camp had to be brought in by horse and wagon. This was a very slow process as the road hadn't’t been constructed yet.
Early in Bark Lake’s time as a leadership centre, Bark Lodge was used as a dining hall for the camp. With the construction of the Balsam Centre in the 1970s, Bark Lodge became a space used for recreation and programming. Former employees David Spencer and Gordon Baker remember how the lodge was used:
When I was on staff in 1981, 1982 and 1987, Bark Lodge was used for group meetings, singsongs and a mellow indoor campfire space. When we hosted conferences, Spring ORCKA and September groups like COEO Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario often requested the indoor space and porch for discussions and presentations. ~David Spencer
Bark Lodge was a busy building in those days, primarily used a a meeting place for indoor group sessions, and for rainy day activities for small group sessions. If it was free, program staff would sometimes use it for planning meetings. In the skills and leadership camps camps, the campers were split up into groups of 30 or so for program purposes. Each group would have a meeting place for certain sessions, and Bark Lodge was one of the meeting spots (highly coveted by staff, due to the cool ambience and history). There were also a few special events over the years, they generally took place in Bark Lodge, unless it was a really big group, then the rec hall was used. ~Gordon Baker
An Opportunity for Growth and Renewal:
From the late-1990s until the mid-2010s Bark Lodge was under-used and allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.
In Spring of 2016 it was decided to make an investment in the renewal of Bark Lodge. Plans are currently in the works to renovate and expand upon the front porch, repair the foundation, and ultimately convert the space into a licensed meeting space for adult and corporate groups.
Already significant progress has been made. First, the floorboards have been removed and new ones will be arriving shortly. Next, the roof has come down and a new non-leaking is on its way. The foundation has been dug up in preparation for the necessary repairs. In short: big things are happening!