Sunday, December 27, 2020


Back in the early days of the hiking club, back in the 90's,  Alan Day, President of the CdeB,  learned of an old trappers trail that was accessible from an disused road in the bush just north of the existing Stanrock Road and east of Gander Lake.  He and another member, Gord Bruce, went looking and eventually found the trail where it went in by following the slash marks on trees left by the trappers. They even found signs that the mines had been exploring in the area near the Denison Mine site as there was an old drill rig left in the bush. However, there was no evidence of any mine activity beyond that.  A few years later, in conversation, he mentioned their find to me, it sparked interest and Jean-Guy and my late wife Liz and I went searching for the lost trail. We had just about given up when we found what looked like a trail heading in off the old road and sure enough we were able to follow the marks up to the ridge above the Denison dam.  About this time a new couple arrived in Elliot Lake from "down south". Franz and Helen Ohler had retired from the St. Catherine area and had taken up residence on Talon Lake at Bonfield near North Bay. Only problem was, they could not access the site safely when the lake ice was forming or at break-up. They solved this by renting an apartment for the winter in Elliot Lake.  Franz was a superb wood carver and Helen loved hiking. She became friends with Liz, and they decided to clear and mark the trail, including the extension from the ridge down to an extension trail leading to the east end of Cinder Lake. It seemed almost a daily occurrence that Helen would phone Liz asking if they were going to hike that day. They worked on the trail steadily, sometimes with others, until it was cleared and marked. Franz & Helen enjoyed several years of winters in Elliot Lake until, tragically, Helen became ill and died quite suddenly while they were at their summer home.

The CdeB decided to name the old trappers trail "Helens Trail" in her memory.

Franz moved to Ottawa soon after her death and I talked to him recently. He is near family and still enjoying good health.

The trail head for Helen's Trail is on the north side of Stanrock Road about 3 km in from Hwy 108.