Important Information for All

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Cottage Country & Covid19

Hello all,

Hope you are all coping successfully in these troublesome times. To our seasonal property owners, we ask that you follow the advice of Dr. Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, to refrain from visiting your cottages during Covid19 quarantine and/or self-isolation.

“Urban dwellers/Cottagers should RESIST THE URGE to head to the cottage and rural properties as these communities have less capacity to manage COVID-19,” she said.

“'COVID-19 time is NOT cottage time.' Stay home in the city and DO NOT put rural communities at further risk during the COVID-19 crisis,” Dr. Tam warned.

While Canadians are being urged to avoid heading to their rural properties to avoid overloading local health care systems, it’s also to help stop the spread of the disease into smaller communities.

“These places have less capacity to manage COVID-19," Dr. Tam said at a press conference in Ottawa on Sunday.

"Even if you have not heard of cases in your community, that does not mean that there are no cases or no exposures waiting to happen," Tam said.

Additionally, as shortages of groceries and toilet paper have been seen across Canada, there are concerns that an influx of cottagers could put even more pressure on suppliers in rural communities.

Year round residents appreciate your assistance in slowing the spread within our rural community, and look forward to seeing you back again when this is over.

Stay well!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Spring Update

Hello all,

Now that we’ve made it through this long winter, it’s time to think spring. Usually it’s also a time to start planning OLRA activities. This year, with regret, we share the news that all Ratepayers activities are indefinitely suspended. The OLRA has a long and rich history and a place in the hearts of several full time and seasonal residents. This is not a conclusion we came to lightly.
Many factors contributed to the decision.

Most of you know that the Woodcocks kept things afloat for a very long time. When they opted for a well deserved retirement many board members had already given up their positions. Susan Eccleshall and I soon found ourselves alone at the meeting table. Both of us have other obligations that make it very difficult to consistently devote the time required to manage things well.

Many times you’ve heard us call for volunteers, and we deeply appreciate those who did make themselves available, but without steady, reliable leadership and unfailingly dedicated volunteers every aspect of the Association’s activities suffered - except one.

Thanks to almost superhuman effort on her part, Susan continued to organize the annual picnic, an event that she has been involved in for most of her life. While those who attend invariably enjoy a wonderful day, attendance has been steadily declining. A great deal of work goes into planning and executing a day of fun for less and less people each year.

The ability to host this, or any other, event depends on funds derived from the membership drive. This is a large undertaking, and we simply haven’t been able to recruit enough bodies to visit every property in Orr Lake. The option to pay for membership online was provided but very few chose it. Success has been achieved only by making the trek up and down each of our long laneways to knock on doors.

The mission of the OLRA, in short, is to monitor the health of the lake and its environment. This requires regular communication with Township staff, our local environmental associations, and residents. It also means conducting tests and investigating any and all activities that could potentially impact the environment such as road work, ditch maintenance, shoreline development and septic inspections to name just a few. Available time is an issue here as well. Additionally, when the issue of water level could not be resolved after the Township took over management of the dam, we noticed a significant decrease in resident interest in the Association. Without the participation of our citizens we are not an Association at all but merely a board with input from a handful of concerned people. To read about the steps taken to address lake levels, please visit and refer to the ‘Top 5 Questions’ page.
The blog and Facebook pages will remain as they stand to provide information and allow residents to communicate with each other but will not be updated.

Once, the OLRA was a vibrant part of life in Orr Lake and it could be again. If anyone is interested in revitalizing the Association we would be happy to help in an advisory capacity. Many hands truly do make light work. Should you wish to offer yours, please call or text Lynne at 905-716-2571 or email

We hope you understand why we have taken this measure and wish you all a safe, happy spring and summer.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

It's Picnic Time Again!

It’s almost time for the Orr Lake Ratepayers’ Annual Picnic and we can’t wait to see you there! For many families the picnic is an annual tradition and there are plenty of new faces around the lake to welcome as well. This is a great chance to have a day of outdoor family fun as you meet and spend time with neighbours.

 Each year attendees share memories of picnics past and their joy in recalling such good times is clear. One long-time resident asked us to share her story of a great climax to the 2017 event. Ruth Woodcock writes, ‘As always, everyone at the OLRA Picnic last year had a wonderful time. I gave my 5 year old grandson, Kai, a strip of tickets for the donated prizes and he put almost all of them in the bag for the "Water Fun" prize. Later in the day when the winners were announced Kai waited patiently to hear his name. His disappointment was on his face when another name was announced. The winner was Tom Deas. Without hesitation, Tom walked over to Kai and handed him the prize. He said, "I watched Kai put so many tickets in the bag and knew he really wanted it so I put my tickets in too in the hopes that between the two of us, Kai could have that prize.” What a wonderful, generous teen we have living in our Orr Lake community!! Thank you again, Tom, for your caring gesture. It made a big impression on Kai and me. Also, a big thank you to Helen Gibb for having a camera handy to record the deed in such good pictures!’

 Mark Sunday, August 5, 2018 on your calendars and plan to attend this year’s picnic from 12:00 noon - 3:00 pm. You’ll find us at the park on South Orr Lake Rd enjoying contests, games and races, winning prizes, feasting at the BBQ, and discovering new identities courtesy of the artistic face painting of Mabel Moon (you can preview her talents here:

 All are welcome, and just one $10 Ratepayers’ membership covers picnic admission for the entire family, including the grandkids. You can buy your membership either online at or at the park on the day of the picnic. Most events are free with admission but bring a wee bit of spending money for some fun activities, drinks and treats.

 If you have questions, or would like to donate prizes or volunteer (hours credited for students), please call Susan at 705-725-4120.

 Come out and enjoy a day of old-fashioned fun by the lake!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dealing with Unwanted Plant Life

In our last post, we talked about invasive and/or problematic plants both in and out of the lake. This time, we’d like to share a little more on this subject, based on information and guidance received through our partnership with Severn Sound Environmental Association.

Their wetland biologist identified samples of two types of grasses taken from the lake as wild rice and hard-stemmed bulrush. We have received reports that one or both of these are crowding the shoreline of some properties. Before we continue, we must stress that there are legal and safety factors involved in dealing with both native and invasive plants and state that we do not advise anyone to proceed without professional, educated consultation.

Residents may be able to do some selective clearing to make a path wide enough for boat passage, however there are some rules to follow from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). DFO rules take precedence over the MNRF rules since they’re federal, but the best plan is to go with whichever is the more restrictive regulation.

Based on our location, a permit from the MNRF is not needed but there are some rules to follow. You must be the property owner, or conducting removal on behalf of the owner. You may only remove plants directly in front of your own property. You must dispose of removed plants on dry land, and any wheeled or tracked machinery or equipment used must be used, operated and/or stored on dry land as well. You may only use mechanical devices such as a rake or cutter bar, or bare hands to remove plants – dredging the bed of the water body is not permitted. There are also rules regarding the maximum dimensions of removal sites allowed, and about clearing during fish spawning seasons. To ensure that you are compliant should you wish to remove native aquatic plants, we strongly recommend that you contact the MNR district office before proceeding. They are located at 2284 Nursery Rd in Midhurst, or you can reach them by phone at 705-725-7500. To determine whether a DFO permit may be necessary, please contact them by writing Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 520 Exmouth Street, Sarnia, ON N7T 8B1 or you can call 1-866-290-3731 toll free.

The MNRF rules for removal of invasive aquatic plants such as invasive phragmites or purple loosestrife are very similar to those for non-invasive plants. There are currently a few patches of phragmites in the area that are not in the lake. The OLRA will look into the identifying whether these are native or invasive and, if necessary, their removal before the problem becomes more widespread. If you do see phragmites on your property it is important that they be removed or, at the very least, the seedheads should be cut off and burned to prevent windborne spread. Invasive phragmites grow through an extensive underground rhizome system so a single control method may not be effective.

Giant hogweed contains a phototoxic sap which reacts with ultra-violet (UV) light once it has come in contact with the skin. It can cause second degree burns. There are four species of giant hogweed but not all are found in North America. It is important to get to know this plant – and its “look-alikes”. Due to the health risks associated with giant hogweed, it is extremely important to become educated and seek consultation in dealing with it should it appear on your property.

We have added pdf files on the top left of the blog that detail best handling practices for both phragmites and hogweed. This is a good first step toward understanding what you are up against in trying to remove and/or control these plants.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Cruel September

As I write, the first day of school is just a few hours away. Once I craved this return to routine. When my days didn’t unfold in an orderly fashion I felt unglued and out of sorts. It was harder to focus and accomplish things that would leave me feeling satisfied with my small contribution to the spinning of the planet at the end of the day. I used to welcome fall and the return of schedules with open arms. Now it seems to me, despite what T.S. Eliot had to say about April, that September is the cruelest month.

These days, clocks and calendars seem more like unwanted guests in my home than beloved members of the family. There are a few exterior reasons for my change of heart. The kids who used to spend weekends in my basement are hanging out in post-secondary residences now. The first child I brought into this world is expecting the arrival of his own soon. My daughter, who has been occupying that basement since the younger kids expanded their horizons, is planning to move out on her own. All these events are exciting and evoke a ton of positive thoughts and feelings but also bring on retrospection and a pesistent desire to turn back the hands of time. Yet, simultaneously, retirement skips just a few steps ahead of me and I want to run to catch up. I can’t wait to have the freedom from the demands of a job and kids to plan my days around things that I never have time for. Essentially, I want things that are polar opposites and, for the moment, can have neither.

Then along comes September. Contradictory, deceptive, demanding September. It offers lovely, sunny hours free of humidity while slamming the door shut on the lazy days of summer. In the evenings we’re reaching for sweaters we haven’t even thought of for months but wishing we’d worn shorts in mid-afternoon. The geese are gathering as the leaves begin to turn colour but corn and pumpkins are still growing. On the surface, it looks as though September can’t make up its mind what it wants. It seems to both mock and mimic my own state of mind. Sure, April has its own back and forth dance but spring seems more like a playful child following any given whim. September is more like Grimm’s witch that builds a lovely gingerbread treat just so she can stuff you in her oven. It’s purposefully messing with us. September can be a real jerk.

We can’t force it to be a more decisive month any more than I can change my adult children back to babies or quit my job today. The next best thing, I suppose, is to just roll with it. Tidy up what we can, put a few things on hold and start fresh all at once.

For the OLRA, the annual general meeting tidies up issues that have previously arisen and presents new concerns that need attention. In the area of closure, we heard a report on lake testing conducted by the SSEA during 2015 and closed the effort to have waste collection day changed after we were unable to achieve a majority in favour. Still in progress are an update on septic re-inspection and investigating obstacles to providing a kayak and canoe lock-up at the park. New business focused on plant life both in and out of the water with discussions regarding expanding lake grasses and the recent appearance of phragmites and hogweed in our area. Residents who have already purchased their 2016-17 membership should already have received a full copy of the meeting minutes. If yours didn’t arrive in your inbox, please let us know. For those who would like to review the minutes but are not current members, please see the membership section on the right to purchase your membership online or contact us to use an alternative method of payment.

With the writing of this post, I’ve finished taking care of what I need to do today and I’m heading outside to enjoy a few more hours of freedom. Maybe I’ll stick my tongue out at September while I’m at it.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Another Successful Picnic!

While there’s still lots of summer left to enjoy, the OLRA recently wrapped up the 2015-16 season with our annual picnic and general meeting. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the picnic and it was wonderful to see both familiar and new faces joining in the fun.

As always, Susan Eccleshall did an outstanding job of organizing an event that has long been a fun-filled summer tradition for many Orr Lake families. Some of those families - the Moffitt and Woods families in particular – consistently give of themselves and we owe our sincere thanks for their donations of prizes, funds and time. We are also indebted to local businesses that sponsored the raffle. Please be sure to reward their generosity with your patronage. These include A’s Fish & Chips, B2’s Pizza, Coffee Time, Corner Cut Salon, Elm Flower Shoppe, Elmvale Foodland, Elmvale McDonald’s, Food Forest, G&S Computers, Georgian Bay Living, Nanny’s Bloomers, Orr Lake Golf Club, Steeler’s Restaurant and Pub, TD Canada Trust, The Village Shoppe, and Twice Around Thrift Store.

A special thank you to Elmvale Home Hardware for their donation of materials for the ever popular nail drive, and to Stefaniuk Precision Carpentry Design & Renovations for providing ice and propane supplies for the BBQ.

Music plays a huge part in setting the festive mood, and the microphone is a necessary component too. Many thanks to Joe Boffo and family who kindly allow use of their hydro to power our sound system.

We are able to share the big-heartedness of all these great donors only with the help of a hardworking team of volunteers. We would be well and truly lost without their contributions of time and effort. A greatly deserved pat on the back to community helpers Jack Beyfuss, Paul Byrne, Charlie Digaudio, Tony & Margaret Eccleshall, Betsy MacDonald, Ernest Stefaniuk, and Ruth Woodcock. The help of local students is also invaluable. Thanks to Tom Deas, Scott Huggard, Colby Scott, and Delaney Scott for proving that the spirit of giving is alive and well among the younger people in our community. The success of this year’s picnic is a credit to you all!

Last but certainly not least on our list of those to thank are our executive volunteers. Their efforts this season brought us increased membership and more frequent communication through various media, which helped to raise attendance numbers at the picnic. They also gave their time to canvassing for raffle donations, shopping for food supplies, staffing the races, and more. A huge thank you to Sonia Kadela, Nick Heintz, Matt & Stephanie McKeown and Louise McGonigal for helping to make our annual event run so smoothly.

A new addition to this year’s line-up was the presence of Mabel Moon Face Painting. Nearly all the kids and a few adults waited patiently for their turn and soon filled the park with Ninja Turtles, kitty cats, dragons, flower children and more. Mabel’s work is outstanding and we’ve already booked her to return next year. Be sure to check out her website, to add a fun twist to your next event.

If you missed this year’s picnic, just remember that it is always held on the Sunday of the August long weekend. Residents and cottagers alike often host family and friends at this time, and the picnic is a great way to let us help you entertain.

At this year’s AGM we were pleased to welcome our guests Mayor Bill French, Councillor Perry Ritchie, and Aisha Chiandet of the Severn Sound Environmental Association. Be sure to watch for our next post when we’ll recap the highlights of the meeting.

Monday, July 25, 2016

See you at the Picnic!

It’s time to celebrate summer in Orr Lake at the Ratepayers Picnic! Residents and cottagers from Orr Lake are invited to join us for an afternoon of fun to remember as you meet or reunite with neighbours and friends on Sunday, July 31 beginning at 12:00 noon at Orr Lake Park on South Orr Lake Road. Admission is just $10 per family which includes your 2016-17 OLRA membership.

When you first arrive, visit the Welcome table where you can purchase your membership, raffle and 50/50 tickets, or enter to win with your best guess regarding the candy jar’s contents. We’ve received some wonderful donations from many local businesses and families in our community so don’t miss your chance to take one home. We’ll also have Orr Lake t-shirts available for purchase.

Bring the kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews and we’ll be happy to wear them out for you with a variety of games and races such as the ever popular egg toss and shoe kick. There are events for those who excel individually, and lots for those who work better as part of a team. Races are divided into age categories with a huge variety of prizes for all, plus medals and ribbons that make great additions to the summer scrapbook. Don’t forget to start working those biceps in preparation for the horseshoe and nail driving competitions.

When you’re expending all that energy, you’ll need to fuel up. Enjoy grilled burgers and dogs flipped and served up hot by our barbecue volunteers. Cash only please – no cheques, plastic or trading of children, mothers-in-law, or burnt-out boat motors.

If you’re more of a worker bee than a competitor, we can always use an extra body or two to help out with spotting during races, supervising competitions and so on. Volunteer hours are given to high school students. Please get in touch to find out how you can lend a hand.

This all adds up to a day of great fun on the shores of our lovely lakes so mark your calendars now. We look forward to another terrific turn-out of neighbors to make this year’s picnic the best ever!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Community-wide Yard Sale

Last year's community yard sale was a great success, so we're coordinating another this year. If you would like to take part on July 9, 2016 from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, please let us know so that we can help out with advertising. We will be renting space to promote the event on the sign at the park in Hillsdale with the hope that this will increase traffic and sales. Call or text (905) 716-2571 or email us at to have your address added to the list.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

It's a brand new season!

Can I be perfectly honest with you?  I don’t feel like writing this entry today.  Usually when I sit down in front of the keyboard I’m inspired or, at the very least, I enjoy the hunt for words to address my chosen topic.  Not today.  Please don’t be offended.  My lack of interest extends to doing the laundry, catching up on housework and even enjoyable things like reading or calling friends I haven’t talked to for a while.  It’s just one of those lackadaisical days.  I have plenty of energy and no lack of tasks requiring attention.  I just can’t find a sense of purpose.

If I had a grain of sense, I’d drift through the day and be happy to just let things happen.  Having a purpose is important though.  It’s a defining characteristic of being human.  We crave it.  It helps to reduce stress by keeping us organized and focused.  Directing our attention to external pursuits and activities gives us less time to listen to the babble of our own brains, helping to ward off anxiety and depression.  Our sense of well-being is enhanced when we step outside of ourselves and become a part of something bigger, something more.

Being an active participant in the workings of the Orr Lake Ratepayers Association is a wonderful way to expand your personal sense of purpose. 

Are you friendly, outgoing and physically active?  The one area where assistance is most required is our door to door membership drive.  Whether you are willing to canvass an entire neighbourhood or just a few houses, your help is invaluable.  Memberships are currently our sole source of funds to hold events such as the annual picnic and pay for materials needed to advertise events and cover Association costs such as hall rental for the AGM, insurance and FOCA membership.

Perhaps your interests tend more toward planning and organization.  Serving as a member of the OLRA executive is the perfect way to let your talents shine and to acquire first-hand knowledge of all that pertains to our community.  Most positions require a small commitment of time and energy.  Meetings are held once monthly. Since technology allows those who can’t be physically present to take part we have shifted to weeknight meetings so as not to interfere with weekend plans.

There are many ways to get involved on a smaller scale as well.  What could be nicer than to spend a few hours outdoors chatting while you staff one of the new events we introduced last year such as the perennial exchange or bottle drive?  This is a great way for students to earn community hours.  If you make it your habit to keep up with Township Council meetings, it would take but a moment to advise us of any items on the agenda of relevance to Orr Lake.  Consider donating a percentage of your proceeds from the community garage sale to the OLRA.  Do you have a small collection of new items gleaned from stockings or unused gifts that could serve as prizes at the annual picnic?  Perhaps you have other thoughts on how you’d like to take part that we’ve never proposed.  Feel free to bring them to our attention.

The first executive meeting of the 2016 season is Tuesday, May 10th at 7:00 pm.  If you’ve considered volunteering in some capacity but aren’t sure what that would entail, we invite you to join us at 2089 South Orr Lake Road to learn more and ask any questions you may have.

I have a question of my own.  I’m pleased about getting this edition of Currents wrapped up and feeling somewhat fulfilled but still don’t feel like finishing the laundry.  Any takers?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016

Are you #Rooting4Trees this Earth Day?  This year marks the beginning of a wonderful initiative by the global network of Earth Day organizations.  Around the world, they are kicking off an ambitious campaign to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person on the planet, by 2020. Canada’s contribution to this worldwide goal is 35 million trees — one per person in Canada. From April 1st to April 30th, Earth Day Canada will be collecting pledges to support tree planting projects across the country.

Deforestation is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for up to 15% of total emissions. Deforestation plays such an oversized role in climate change, in fact, that part of the 2015 Paris Agreement singled out both the end of deforestation and the importance of reforestation to hitting national climate goals. Planting trees – lots and lots of trees – is the best way to counteract deforestation. Take action by pledging a tree or planting a tree this Earth Day! Visit to learn how to participate, and to find out more about Earth Day Canada’s programs.

In the interest of achieving balance, let’s follow up all that feel-good Earth Day activity with something most of our readers are likely less than thrilled about - yet another increase to hydro rates announced last week. This one’s a doozy.  In a release, the OEB says "Ontarians consumed less electricity than expected over the recent milder winter.  As a result of lower usage, Regulated Price Plan (RPP) prices did not recover the full cost of serving RPP customers. One of the main reasons prices are increasing in May is to recover this shortfall."  Crank up the AC!  Do your laundry on a Tuesday afternoon!  Run the dishwasher on half loads!  What does it matter?  We’re charged more when we use too much and, now, when we use too little electricity.  Is it coincidence that this latest increase follows so closely on the heels of the debt retirement charge elimination and the introduction of the Ontario Electricity Support Program? It would take far more space than we have here to fully explain all the factors in the mismanagement of energy that has led to poorer families having to choose between running their fridges and having food to store in them.

We are, of course, not advocating that you disregard all of the energy conservation efforts you make.  Yet, the fact is that fixed distribution rates plus increased charges for less usage serve to undermine the energy saving measures we’ve been encouraged to implement through costly marketing and advertising strategies.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  For many, switching off the lights when you leave a room is a life-long habit, and a good one.  Our elders used to say, ‘waste not, want not’.  While rising costs for all of modern life’s necessities are making it more difficult to see that adage reflected in our bank balances, it still applies to our responsibility as humans on this planet.

Most mechanisms for generating electricity release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into Earth's atmosphere. While small quantities of carbon dioxide exist naturally in the atmosphere, the generation of electricity has greatly increased the presence of greenhouse gas.  Those gases lead to air pollution and acid rain.  The dangers of radioactive waste produced from sources like nuclear energy add to the ways in which electricity affects the environment.

Let’s not get so distracted by the frustration of being chained to the hydro giant that we forget there’s a far more important benefit to conserving energy than saving money.  Since usage is less relevant to that number on our hydro bills with every rate and policy change, start (or continue) to think of conservation in terms of caring for the planet.  All those Earth Day trees we were talking about at the beginning will bring much needed change.  Don’t make it negligible by giving up.  Keep doing your part to help all the living entities on our planet, including ourselves, to thrive.