All posts by Robert Cavenagh

Welcome to Summer ON BIRCH ISLAND

We hit the solstice yesterday evening and now official summer is upon us. I hope and believe it will be a good one on Birch Island. There has been some nice weather (sometimes TOO nice) and the lake and our island are as beautiful as ever. But…the coronovirus lingers and continuing thoughtful behavior will be needed for some time, including physical distancing and self-quarantine for some.

We are obligated to keep the island library closed for now. Hold on to books to check in and to donations.

We most probably can’t hold the AGM in early August. September may be an option. We will send updates.

Folks from outside Canada, particularly US cottagers like me, are still unable to enter the country. Frustrating, but reasonable. And travel between some provinces is still limited.

In addition, many folks have felt financial stress because of the virus. Jobs lost, extra expenses, shortages of common items: all take a toll.

Reflecting on all of this, the BIRPOA Executive has decided to eliminate association dues for this year. While the $40 is hardly a large sum–less that a meal for two in many ordinary restaurants–we want to do our own small part to ease the pressures we all feel. In addition, we extend one year’s free membership to all Birch Islanders who would like it.

(We try to maintain a reserve fund against ‘rainy days,’ and we feel the coronavirus counts. We have enough left to pay for insurance and make some contributions to island events.)

Wishing you all the best,
Bob Cavenagh, BIRPOA President, 2020

News update: Marinas opening May 16 at 12:01 am

The whistle has been blown, boats can come out of the penalty box…

As of 12.01 am on Saturday morning, May 16, Sand Lake Marine is allowed to release the boats of all Canadian cottagers. And the boats of all Birch Islanders from Canada are in the water and ready to go.

Folks from the US will have to wait until at least June 21 to be allowed back in to Canada, according to current info.

When at the marina: remember to maintain social distancing. Park cars as far apart as possible, and wait in your car until others in a nearby car are well clear of you. Do the same thing at the docks: don’t go onto a dock until others have cleared it. Don’t land your boat at an occupied dock–wait.


Stay 2 meters from marina staff. The marina buildings are closed to all except staff. And there is a window on the side of the building for making payments or other transactions. Gas is available.

Courtesy and thoughtful actions will get us through this pandemic.

I wish you a great start to the cottage season!

Bob Cavenagh
on behalf of 

Sand Lake Marine and the Birch Island Residential Property Owners Association (ie: BIRPOA).

May 8, 2020: Spring Newsletter FOR BIRCH ISLAND COTTAGERS

It has been called ‘a spring like no other.’ Between severe illness and stay at home orders, the coronavirus has transformed many lives. Many, perhaps most of us, would love to get to our cottages for a bit of change. As of this morning the signals on when that can happen are somewhat mixed and the best advice is to contact Sand Lake Marine directly (613-359-5612). They have launched all the boats of Canadian cottagers but have been told not to release them to owners. On the other hand, the Sand Lake public launch ramps are now open, so anyone with a trailer boat can launch it themselves and get to the island. Official permissions may wait until after the Victoria Day long weekend (May 16-18).

Some things are clear: the marina buildings are closed to all who don’t work there and a window has been set up for making payments, etc. Being at the marina will require some thoughtful social distancing, especially around marina staff, in the parking lot, and at the docks. Their current recommendations: when parking, park well apart when feasible and delay your own activities until you can stay 2 meters from others who are there. Similarly, leave plenty of distance at the docks, staying in your boat or on land until the dock is clear. And please wear masks.

For the moment, dock carts (provided by BIRPOA and not the marina) will NOT be put out in accordance with provincial guidelines. When that changes, regard the carts and other surfaces as potentially contaminated and take the now usual precautions.

The Township of Rideau Lakes ( has created a COVID-19 information page with periodic updates. A total burn ban has been in place, but as of today cooking/camp fires of suitable size are now permitted from 6pm to 6am. The township also states that island trash service will begin on Sunday, 19 May, from 4-6pm at Sand Lake Marine. It is worth bookmarking the site.

On the island we will still need to maintain social distancing, but we do have plenty of room to roam. The AGM is scheduled for 10am August 2, though that may evolve. For the moment the island library will stay closed in accordance with provincial requirements. We hope that the canoe race may be able to go on.

Once at the island, it is a good idea to connect with your neighbors as we may need to provide support for each other over the summer.

Lisa Glover at the marina reports that Gordanier’s grocery store is open for business, with access limited to ten people at a time in the store. She notes they face the same shortages as other stores. The LCBO is open, as is the licensing office at the hardware store. The Rideau Pizzeria and Restaurant in Elgin is providing takeout meals, as are the Cove and Tangled Garden in Westport. The hours of these organizations have evolved, so be sure to check. Since some supplies are uncertain it is a good idea to bring everything you will need with you, at least for a first trip to the cottage.

We are rebuilding the website to take advantage of newer web technology. It will take us a while to get all the pieces back together and to begin to expand the site, so do check back periodically. And check there for news updates.

With a bit of care on all our parts we should be able to have a great summer on Birch Island.

We hope to see you there!

Bob Cavenagh for the BIRPOA Executive
(BIRPOA is the Birch Island Residential Property Owner’s Association)