The Birch Islander

A Winter Newsletter by President Rory Gooderham; 

December 10th, 2022 

Another Beautiful Season 

Greetings to all BIRPOA Members and Birch Islanders: 

As the cold temperatures and snow sets in and our boats, lawnchairs and umbrellas are  safely stowed away, it might be a good time start thinking about how we did in 2022 and  what to look forward to next year.  

Members of the executive Board of Directors and committees elected at the AGM at the  end of July are posted on our website. Amendments to BIRPOA’s Constitution/By-Laws  were adopted at the AGM and this allows for up to nine (9) directors and as many  volunteers as are willing to contribute. The amendments were brought forward with the  intent to include as many Islanders as possible. BIRPOA renews itself annually and we are always looking for new people. 

If you are interested in contributing to things such as: organizing social events,  maintaining our trails; helping with our website and library, please get into touch.  

Communication is another priority. How to keep in touch with everyone. Facebook seems  to be most appropriate at this time and there will be more on this soon. 

Some of what happened in 2022 

First, Notes of thanks 

In the spirit of the season, we would like to note our appreciation to Sherry & Dave for  hosting the Annual Picnic/AGM again in 2022 and to Johanne & Brett for organizing the  47th annual canoe race. Thanks also to the directors and volunteers both past and present  for their contributions. A special note of thanks to our past president, Bob Cavenagh for  his leadership and steady hand on the till over the past three years while we all tried to  figure out what to do during a pandemic. 

Spongy Moth Infestation Averted 

Due to natural causes and the aerial spaying this spring, the return of those insidious  spongy moth caterpillars (formerly called gypsy moths) was not a problem in 2022. Birch  Island has a long history with these pests going back to the mid- 80’s. There have been  infestations roughly every 10 years but by most accounts the 2021 infestation was the  worst. Annual monitoring will help prevent the return of a major infestation. More on this  in the spring.; 

July Fireworks Spectacular 

Fireworks presented by our friends at Sand Lake Marine were marvellous this year. Folks  at the marina would like our encouragement and contributions to keep it going. Would it be  good to include an event for Islanders to celebrate our national holidays in July? 

Hydro Easement Maintenance 

Late in the summer, forestry crews came through the hydro easement to trim branches  and cut dead trees that could damage the lines. This is welcome maintenance but there  seemed to be little or no notice. At least one islander had problems with what was done  and after some effort contacting Bell/Hydro, a crew was dispatched to fix. 

Membership – How are we doing? 

There were 36 members recorded as present at the end of July AGM. Paid memberships  for 2022 were 34. 

The modest annual fee of $50.00 helps BIRPOA to maintain the inland trails, purchase  liability insurance, pay for membership to FOCA the Federation of Ontario Cottage  Associations, manage our website, contribute to various events and other activities. 

Membership contributions can be made by e-transfer anytime – send an email to It’s not too late to contribute is you haven’t so far. 

Members & Islanders Directory 

The annual directory including the names, phone numbers and addresses was distributed at  the AGM. Information in the directory is an important benefit not only to let you know  who your neighbours are but also to have contacts for assistance or to check on your  property when you are not there. The directory is for the private use of BIRPOA  Members and Birch Island residents. We would like o make the directory available to all  Islanders early next spring. If, for any reason, you do not want your information included,  please contact us at  


Participation in the various working groups and committees is greatly appreciated. We  would like to tap into the knowledge, experience and expertise of our members. If you are  a techie, planner, gardener, forester, carpenter, labourer, newsletter writer, baker &  candlestick maker, we can use you.

Our Website:- 

Regular Updates and expansion of our website content to include items from the old site  along with new content and information is a high priority. If you have ideas on  items/resources you would like to see, please get in touch. We are looking for one or  more web savvy individuals to help keep our website dynamic and interesting. If you  might be interested, please contact Bob Cavenagh: 

Trail Maintenance 

If not for the efforts of many islanders over the years, our trails would have become an  impassable tangle of trees and branches long ago. Special thanks to our Trail Boss, Ry  Weisiger, for all the work he has done over the years. Ry needs your help to keep the  trails clear and safe. Taking care of the section of the trail outside your property is good  place to start. Reporting down trees and other hazards is also greatly appreciated.  

A note about Interior Lands 

Please note that the interior lands are all privately owned by Islanders with one or two  exceptions. Removal of trees/firewood, soil, rocks or other materials cannot be done  without the permission of the property owner. Names of interior property owners will be  included in the next directory. Please send an email to for more  information. 

The Branch Library 

Our treasured library owned and operated on behalf of all Islanders by Bob, Susan, Ry and  Kathleen. Many thanks to those who have helped sort books and keeping things in order. A  trip to the Library on a pleasant day is wonderful destination and great way to see the  island interior. 

More Social Events? 

The annual canoe/kayak race around the island is back. It’s fun and can be done at your  own pace. Competitive only if you want to be competitive. The annual general meeting is  becoming an annual picnic.  

Do we want to add more events to the summer calendar. These events are a great way to  make new friends, have a bite to eat and find out what’s going on around the island.  Perhaps an event on Canada Day to celebrate our national holidays before the fireworks at  Sand Lake Marine. 

The initiative on the Trail Lands Rights of Way  

Access to the trails, perhaps our main raison d’etre, should not be taken for granted.  Having properly defined legal access to the trails attached to your property is a valuable  asset. A first group of property owners partially secured their rights a few years ago.  There is more to do and a second and hopefully final attempt is being organized. A  separate mailing with more information will be going out next Spring. 

Parks Canada Rideau Waterway, Township of Rideau Lakes, Provincial and Federal  Governments 

A small group was formed to help monitor the various levels of government and ministries that can have a direct impact on our rights and enjoyment of our properties on Birch  Island. Monitoring, participating and providing feedback on the development of such  things as the Rideau Canal Management Plan, the Rideau Lakes Lake Association Committee  (RLLAC) are things this group can keep watch on. Please get in touch, if you would like to  participate. 

We Want to Hear from You 

The strength of any organization is based on its members. The Birch Island association has been in existence for 50 years and counting. What we can do for our members is  important going forward. A virtual late winter meeting is being planned. We would like to talk about what we are doing and hear from you about what you would like to see from your  Lake Association.  

That’s all for now. 

On Behalf of your Board of Directors and Volunteers, 

Rory Gooderham 

August Updates

MEGA kudos to Dave and Sherry for their magnificent site preparation and hosting of our 2022 Reunion/AGM!

It was a great success this year, with burgers and hot dogs being served up by Rob Jackett, with salads, cookies, cakes, and Kit’s bountiful and popular shortcake!

We congratulate Rory Gooderham on his election to the Presidency for the coming year, and to Rob Jackett for his election to/acceptance of, the Presidential cycle of three years.

Thanks also are due to all those whose continued involvement and engagement keeps our association humming!

The membership has made the following decisions at the AGM

At this year’s AGM we made a commitment to approach and press both the Township and the Rideau Authority to take some sort of action to remediate issues with Sand Lake septic systems (including those on Birch Island) that are dumping raw or partly processed sewage into the lake that provides drinking water for many of us.

Rory and Rob have undertaken constitutional/organizational changes to bring us into compliance with Ontario’s new Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NOCA) which is required by 2024.

We have added a new section to the website: Birch Merch! (see the menu bar) Yes, now you can get custom-designed t-shirts and mugs to represent our beautiful island!

Hi Birch Islanders. It’s time for our Second Annual All-Island Reunion

You are invited to the Second Annual ALL ISLAND REUNION on July 31, 2022. The fun begins at 11 am, at #33 in Limekiln Bay.

Grills and burgers, hot dogs, sausages, soft drinks and water will be provided, as well as plates and cutlery. Feel free to bring a dish to share: salad, dessert, etc. (Susan will bring her mother’s ‘famous’ potato salad….)

Some small lawn games will be set up for kids (bocce ball, cornhole, etc.)

The reunion is sponsored by BIRPOA, your Island Association and by your membership dues — thank-you!

Not a member? NOOO Problem! We want as many folks to come as possible. And we really hope everyone WILL attend. It is a time to see old friends, make new friends, and to see what is happening on and around the island. (If you have guests–bring ’em) We had a great time last year.

We will hold a very brief business meeting (AGM), which will include news, election of association Directors, and voting on a revised Constitution. (link here)

July 31, 11am-1pm (rain date: Aug 1, 11am-1pm)

Cottage #33 in Limekiln Bay.

And bring folding chairs.

Arrive on foot, by canoe or kayak, or have yourself dropped off by boat–dock space is limited.

The Season Begins

The 2022 cottage season is beginning. The marina has most of our boats in the water–but call to check about yours. And if you are contemplating a new boat, be sure to check with them to make sure it actually will fit in your slip. (613-359-5612)

Tree-damaging Gypsy/LDD moths are also in season. A number of islanders have signed up for aerial spraying and we will pass on information about the times for that as soon as we learn them. You may wish to stay inside at the time of spraying but the spray itself–BTK–is considered quite safe for humans. When you do get to the cottage, check your trees for signs of the little critters. The biological pesticides mentioned include a form of BTK that we can buy at Rona/Home Hardware/Home Depot, etc. under the name SAFER BTK. It is not expensive. It is a concentrate that makes a lot of working solution that can be applied with a common garden sprayer. If you want to do this, it is wise to buy some soon lest supplies get depleted as they did last year.  There are also other things to help, like banding your treees with burlap or duct tape bands to make moths gather overnight–you can destroy them after that. There is a great deal of info on the web, including on our own website, The members of the association Executive Committee have put a great deal of effort into telling about spraying options and helping those who wish to spray with the process. In particular I want to mention Mary Rockburn, Val Fullard, Rory Gooderham, and Vipool Desai for their efforts. Here is a timetable of moth activity:

‘BIRPOA’–The Birch Island Residential Property Owners Association (or simply the Birch Island Association) is dedicated to doing things to promote the well-being of the island and our cottagers. The Executive Committee is the group that makes things happen, along with other volunteers. We keep the trails cleared, the library running, create and support events, count loons and watch other wildlife, maintain a website, monitor water quality,  link to local and provincial government and other associations, and have done so for over 50 years. We do ask folks to pay $50 dues, which are used only to support the island–not a penny goes to Executive members personally–and a message on dues for this year will soon follow.

We also need new Exec members and general volunteers. Thanks to covid, some of us have been in our roles a bit too long and want to leave or to rotate to other assignments, and we always seek new people and ideas. Two folks new to the island are joining us: Rob Jackett and Wendy Nuttall. and others are very welcome. The way we encourage people to join: come to a few meetings (electronically, early in the season, in person later) and see what roles might appeal to you. In addition to the Executive Committee, Rory Gooderham is looking for some volunteers to participate in a committee to deal with the Rideal Authority/Parks Canada; we made a strong pitch for cottager voices to be heard in addition to those of n and financial interests. We won an invitation to send a rep and Rory agreed to do that. We also always want volunteers to help with the library, and we have a new proposal to create a social committee (aka the Party Animals) to help with summer activities. There are other possibilities, too.

The trails have for years been maintained by ‘Trail Boss’ Ry Weisiger, cutting the grass first with a push mower and more recently with a small tractor, and taking a chainsaw to miscreant branches. and with help from several islanders including Chris Wagner, Dave Perfetti, members of the Horton family, and by Andy Shaw, who recently left the island. Rob Jackett, a new owner of the Shaw cottage, has volunteered to take over Andy’s role. If you see problems on the trail, do contact Ry.

The trails themselves have complex ownership and rights of way have been a topic for several years. John Feltmate, siad to be the longest cottage owner on the island, is both our informal historian and the person to ask about trail issues, along with Rory.

Drinking water is always a question for new cottagers and we have conducted periodic surveys of both lake and cottage water. If you have questions on this score, just ask me.

Last year we held an All Island Reunion for everyone on the island no matter if they were active members of the association or not. Around 50 folks showed up and we have deemed the event a success to be repeated. Dave Perfetti and his wife Sherry Mills prepared their lovely lot in Limestone Bay and it made a simply wonderful venue. Exec members brought food and drink, and particularly noteworthy Indian food from a fine restaurant in Toronto was brought by Vipool Desai and Laura. Others brought drinks, ice cream, veggies, and ‘Frito pie.”

We plan to have additional events during the coming summer, including a traditional Paddle the Island Race, once done only with canoes but nowadays with kayaks and paddleboards as well.

Each year we update a list of islanders and have traditionally distributed it to members at the AGM. Last year we gave them to everyone at the Reunion, and copies remain available. We have an updated version in the works. These are always distributed as PRINTED copies for security reasons.

Other news: Thanks in large part to a gift from the Milner family, we have a large number of historical island newsletters and other items. Cooped up because of covid, Rory has made a major effort to digitize these and you will see bits in future newsletters, while they will all be posted to the website. And over the winter, Mary Rockburn painted and refurbished the library:

Finally, last year the Executive agreed to look at several issues: reviewing our overall mission with a view to concentrating on a few major issues, revising the committee’s organizational structure, including job descriptions and terms of office, representation at external organizations, best means of communicating, and the creation of a revised constitution, all by the 2022 Reunion/AGM.

Expect updates periodically throughout the year!

Happy summer, everyone,

Bob Cavenagh

on behalf of, and with much gratitude to, the Executive Committee

Current progress of Spray Program Sign-up


The deadline for applications is fast approaching (Feb 28)! If you have applied but haven’t heard back, it’s likely because the company handling the logistics is processing a very large number of applications. We have been told that our area is a “hot zone” which means we’ll likely make it onto the mapping for spraying. There will be 2 spray applications spaced 7 days apart.

We have added the slide show from the Zoom meeting to the page on LDD/Gypsy Moths.


Thursday January 27th, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. eastern.

Last summer, many of us on Birch Island witnessed the complete loss of leaves from some of our favourite trees, thousands of caterpillars crawling everywhere and frass raining down from the trees. 

 Most of our trees should recover in 2022 but there are serious concerns that repeated infestations could cause lasting damage to our island.

 BIRPOA, your lake association, is preparing an information session on Gypsy Moth (now called LDD Moth) Infestations.  Topics will include:

·   What are LDD moths and how did they get here;

·   What harms do they cause;

·   What can we do about it – the benefits of spraying and other preventions

·   Environmental concerns: spraying vs tree destruction

All islanders are invited to this important Zoom session to be held:

Thursday January 27th, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. eastern.

Please plan to connect with us.

 An invitation including a Zoom link will be sent a few days before the session. You will need to download the Zoom app ahead of the meeting. (There is no charge) .

2021 Birch island reunion SEPT 5, 11 AM #33 LIME KILN BAY


You are invited to an ALL ISLAND REUNION on September 5. (Rain date Sept 6) 11 am, at #33 in Limekiln Bay.

The reunion is sponsored by BIRPOA, your Island Association.

Not a member? NOOO Problem. We want as many folks to come as possible.

After the long restrictions of COVID, it’s high time to see old friends, meet new neighbors, and share island life. Our US islanders have finally been able to return to the island after nearly 2 years away and there’s lots to catch up on.The reunion is all about getting people together, but we have also worked up an interesting and varied menu of easy to carry foods that you can pick up, walk around with while talking. We will have:

  • Samosas, that wonderful Indian delight, a baked pastry with savory filling
  • Chicken Tikka: chicken bits that have been baked with an interesting mix of spices.
  • Walkaround Frito Pie:  a small bag of Fritos, opened and filled with chili, to which one can add cheese, sour cream, etc. 
  • Pasta salad in a cup. No explanation needed here!
  • Carrot sticks, celery, etc.
  • Ice cream cones – an annual tradition
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Water and soft drinks

Do bring chairs. Arrive on foot, or by kayak or canoe, or get dropped off by boat (but docking will be very scarce). Guests that weekend? Sure, bring ’em.

We will hold a very brief business (AGM) meeting with news, small reports, and an election.

RSVP by text to 519-200-8519 or click here.

We really hope to see you there!

Looking forward in 2021

The ice is out, spring is breaking out, and thoughts of the cottage are in many of our minds. Loons are singing, kids are ready to jump and splash, and the thought of sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee or a glass of something nice seems very attractive.

The current lockdown in Ontario will slow our arrivals, but with care and just a bit of luck the season will open. We will again need to be careful with social contacts when we get to Birch Island but the place itself is an antidote to a long hard year and more.

The Executive of BIRPOA, your island association, has been monitoring several things for our benefit. Here are some we would like to share:

  • A planning initiative by Parks Canada for the Rideau has been published. You may well want to look at it, as we have just until the end of April to comment. A number of cottagers feel it is too strongly slanted to boosting tourism and commercial development while deemphasizing protections for the lakes and environment. See it here and see how you can respond:
  • A number of lake associations have reported increased Gypsy moth activity. There are always a few of those critters around and cottage owners usually can take care of those individually, but we want to know if  we face a larger issue. Here is some guidance, and if you find large numbers, LET US KNOW(
  • Taxes have increased annoyingly for some; it is possible to protest those raises, but it is not always effective. You can find guidance here:  If you’d like to talk to someone who has done this, lets us know and we can connect you.
  • And Hydro: changes, probable increases, but beyond our purview.

Ry Weisiger has been our volunteer ‘trail boss’ for years, mowing most of the trails, cutting up downed trees, improving pathways. Unfortunately Ry is in New Hampshire, unable to cross into Canada for now. We will need to find other ways to get the job done. Rory Gooderham and Chris Wagner–members of the Executive–have volunteered to do some of this, but we can use more volunteers. Chris has agreed to coordinate.

More looking forward:  Our wonderful island trails have been described as a ‘real treasure’ and they are certainly not commonplace. Many of the  trails are owned by Birch Island Estates Ltd, the original developer of the island. Only one member of that company is still with us and the ownership future of the trails is quite uncertain,  The Executive is exploring ways to ensure that the trails remain as they are, natural and undeveloped, for future generations. Previous efforts have allowed folks to obtain deedable rights of way; if successful, the new effort could do that and more. We may incur legal expenses, so having folks pay annual dues is very important!

The association bulletin board at the marina needs to be refreshed–and that is afoot.

The “Birch Island Branch Library” is another favorite destination. As was the case last year, it will probably need to stay closed for a bit longer because of the coronavirus, but we may be able to organize a return day or two. 

We also need to watch closely to see if we can hold a live AGM (Annual General Meeting) this August. We hope so, as these sessions are always kind of fun and a chance to see friends and neighbors. They are also  a moment to share ideas and think about good things for the island.

As always we would like to have more islanders participate in BIRPOA, certainly as members, but also to take active roles.(I would love to find a volunteer to handle our WordPress website.)

Expect a message soon from treasurer Vipool Desai about annual membership. Vipoool has created a mechanism  to allow e-mail transfers of funds, MUCH easier than having to write and deliver a cheque.

On a sad note, John Feltmate tells us that James (Jim) Amell has passed away. Jim played a prominent role in the development of the island from the ’70s to about 2000. He installed septic systems, cleared land, did landscaping, and kept up many parts of the road system. Long a friendly and familiar figure, he purchased an interior lot and sometimes camped there with his family.

Like Ry, I too hope to see many of you this summer. Like Ry, I am still in the US. I do miss the island.

Bob Cavenagh – President for 2020

BIRPOA: the Birch Island Residential Property Owners Association  

2020 Virtual Annual General Meeting



From the Executive Committee of the Birch Island Residential Property Owners Association (BIRPOA)

The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to forego our usual in-person Annual General Meeting. As a safer alternative, we are providing this email and web based report on activities and seeking your responses, by email, using the comment option below. Since the AGM is traditionally held Sunday morning of the August long weekend, we are keeping up the tradition by sending this message at that same time.

Minutes of the 2019 AGM Sunday, August 4th 2019 (Rory Gooderham):

Members of the Executive Committee presentRory Gooderham Secretary/President, Bob Cavenagh Vice- President, Vipool Desai Treasurer, Ry Weisiger  Director-Trails, John Feltmate Rights of Way Regrets: Brett Cavanagh Past President

Welcome: Rory Gooderham welcomed everyone to the meeting and following tradition, asked members present to introduce themselves.

Thanks to Brett Cavanagh: Rory advised that Brett Cavenagh was concluding his term as President/Past President and noted that his contributions over the years in a number of roles are greatly appreciated

Memorials: Carole McKewen, Bill Davis, Louis Monton and Paul Simpson were remembered as cottage owners and contributors during their time on the island.

Minutes of previous AGM held August 5th, 2018: Were adopted as presented.

Treasurer’s Report: Vipool Desai referred to his Treasurer’s report which had been circulated to members in advance of the meeting. Funds at the beginning of 2018-2019 fiscal year were $3,455; membership revenue was $1,645 representing 40 members. Total expenses were $1,366 resulting in a surplus of $3,734 at year-end July 31st, 2019.

Island Issues and Interests:

Lake Association – Township of Rideau Lakes: Rory noted that BIRPOA was able to participate in the Township’s Lake Association Grant program and received a grant of $947.00 to assist with operations.

Marina Issues: As always, a note of thanks to the folks at Sand Lake Marine for all they do for us. It is important that we all observe speed limits for safety and to reduce dust. Cottagers should use only the lower road and park carefully to make room for others. Dog droppings need to be bagged and removed – not placed in the Go Hut.

Water Safety: There was a quick review of basics including keeping appropriate distance from docks and swimmers, the importance of proper lighting on boats at night. Reducing ‘light pollution’ was also brought forward

Septic Pumping: Vipool noted recent experiences including the costs. Group rates for this service work are available which will benefit cottagers who need this service.

Group Wi-fi: Stephen Reid noted that he was in process of making arrangements with a local supplier for Wi-fi services that could also be made available to other cottagers in need. Unfortunately it was found that group rates were not being offered and it is back to the drawing board.


Library: Bob Cavenagh indicated that helpers are always needed. Ideally teenage kids to provide guidance on book titles for younger readers. As always, donations of thoughtful, current and quality titles are welcome. A signup list was circulated.

Trails: Ry Weisiger noted that for the most part the trails are in good condition and asked members to report any concerns they find so they can be taken care of. The culverts at the causeway were also beginning to collapse and this may require the area to be closed in the future. Cottagers were advised to take care whenever using the trials.

Your Water System from Lake to Tap: Bob Cavenagh went through a demonstration of pumps, filters and various water purification systems. It was agreed that the information for both old and new cottagers was very useful.

Power Outages: John Feltmate noted the importance of calling hydro if the power goes out. The more calls the better to encourage hydro crews to fix

Canoe Race Returns!: It was announced that the annual boat race would return on September 1st, 2019, hosted by the Pollocks at Lot 70.

Nominations and Election of Executive Committee Positions for 2019-20.

President: Bob Cavenagh (current VP)

Vice President: Vacant-no nomination received

Past President: Rory Gooderham

Treasurer: Vipool Desai (current Treasurer)

Secretary Rory Gooderham (second role)

Director for Trails Ry Weisiger

Director for Library Bob Cavenagh (extra task)

Director for Rights of Way John Feltmate & Rory Gooderham

Directors at Large Dave Perfetti, Chris Wagner (Mary Rockburn was subsequently appointed)

There being no further nominations, the members’ nominated above were elected by show of hands. 

Other business:

There was discussion about property tax re-assessments, how to do them and whether they are worthwhile. Parking improvements at the marina were also discussed.

Kayakers on Sand Lake

2020 Treasurer’s Report (from Treasurer Vipool Desai):

August 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, including most recent bank statement

AGM 2019 Balance Carried $3,733.99

Credits Membership Fees $  440.00

(2019 paid after AGM)

Township Grant $  927.00


Debits E&O/ D&O Insurance $  (908.28)

FOCA Membership $  (282.50)

gas payment to Ry Weisiger $  (200.00)

Web hosting $  (169.68)

Sign posts $   (25.00)

TOTAL DEBITS $ 1,585.46

June 30, 2020 Balance on Account $ 3,515.53

Note that we did not collect dues for 2020, to help with coronavirus impacts.


President’s Report 2020 (Bob Cavenagh)
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on many people, some physically, others with major disruptions to their lives. The Executive Committee has wanted to help make the Birch Island experience as pleasant and safe as possible. We cancelled dues for the year; while $40 is almost a symbolic amount, it was something we could do. We have been forced to close the library to comply with Ontario guidelines (though we may try to have a brief opening late in the year so books can be returned). We have switched to this ‘virtual’ alternative to the AGM.

Executive members have met repeatedly, including Zoom meetings hosted by Dave Perfetti.

We drafted and helped circulate a petition to the Township to improve Sand Lake Road; it has received a favorable response but we will need to see what happens.

We have launched a new web site that will grow over time. It is sensitive to the device you use, so it automatically appears in different forms on computers, tablets and phones. More on that in a bit.

It has become clear that the Constitution needs to be revamped. Last revised in 2012, we need to ensure it is sensitive to things like the pandemic, and we need to redefine roles and terms of Officers and Directors, among other things. That will be part of the 2021 agenda.

Speaking of the Officers and Directors: sadly, it is not really feasible to conduct a proper election in email; additionally we have not found new candidates for those roles (we are also operating without a Vice President). The current folks have conceded that we should maintain our roles through 2021 and hope for new folks at that time. More on this later.

We normally have a report on the condition of the island trails from ‘Trail Boss’ Ry Weisiger. That can’t happen, because Ry, like other US citizens and some from other provinces, has been unable to come to Canada. Chris Wagner reports that the lack of rain has helped keep the grass on the western end trails somewhat in check. Some island folks have mowed parts of the trails. We also have a suggestion that it may be desirable to bring in some heavy equipment to clear and widen trails next year; that is certainly an agenda item.

John Feltmate has conducted a long-running process to insure that members can secure legal rights to use the island trails. Quite a number of hiccups and legal glitches were discovered during Round 1; a number of folks participated at that time. John plans to set up Round 2 in 2021 for newcomers and those who did not participate originally. Rory Gooderham is joining him in this effort.

Chris Wagner has proposed several interesting ideas to promote Birch Island, even creating things like caps and other merchandise (I have long fancied creating an informal poster sized map).

Residents have suggested organizing both a large-item trash pickup and a brush-chipping arrangement to help clear some of the extensive brush piles left by Hydro and other activities.

We do not currently have wildlife reporters and would like to change that. We have often held loon counts and like to monitor their activities and hatches. We could use volunteers. Chris Wagner reports a family of four barred owls at the west end of the island. Who else can report sightings of various critters?

Finally, gypsy moths have become a matter of concern in areas near Sand Lake. I have heard no reports of serious infestations on the island itself; these moths are always present but erupt into large outbreaks periodically. We will need to monitor this. Most contemporary solutions seem to involve homeowners taking action when excess moths are found.

(This ends my formal report.  RWC)


–The new website at became necessary because the previous version didn’t adapt well to evolutions in the devices we use. The original site, a beautiful thing, was created by John Curley using his extensive tech skills, but when he left the island a new approach was needed. Brett Cavanagh took over and crafted the very important intermediate site that is now being replaced. My son Rob Cavenagh created our new site using a package called WordPress. This is a widely used and highly regarded web vehicle we hope will serve us for years. At this time we are working on reinstalling some of the traditional pages from the Curley site. Mary Rockburn is working with others to craft a list of formal and casual ‘contractors’ to help with tasks at our cottages. We want to do much more. We need ‘content,’ and would love to have a web pro on board.

We will soon launch a new web category called “Island Life”.  Its header is already on the website and now we need your help to flesh it out. It will include galleries of interesting photos from all over the island and lake: scenic images, to be sure, but also personal and family images. AND, I want to encourage islanders to think about and write brief ‘stories’ about life on the island. AND on the lake. Sand Lake is, of course, a primary focus for many of us. We want your submissions!

In addition, there are facebook pages for Birch Island and Sand Lake, and an Instagram page.

–We face a perennial challenge in recruiting folks to participate in the Island Executive. This means a number of folks wind up playing repeating roles. There are no perks or benefits other than joining a group that is tuned to island life and intent on maintaining and improving it, but the group is congenial. (Presidents of cottage associations have said that their hardest task is always recruiting their own replacements…)  While we met remotely, via email, telephone, and Zoom this year, we much prefer to have all meetings face-to-face and hope we will soon be able to resume doing so. Think about joining us ….

We also have a library group–which has not needed to be active this year.

-We are very interested in hearing what islanders would like from the Association.

Enough from us. Use the COMMENTS link to respond. We’d love to hear your comments, and will tell you how to send pictures and stories!

We have a tradition of serving ice cream cones at the end of AGM meetings.  If you are so inclined, go to your fridge and….


Our best to you, and our hopes and wishes for a safe and virus-free future: Bob Cavenagh, Vipool Desai, John Feltmate, Rory Gooderham, Dave Perfetti, Mary Rockburn, Chris Wagner, Ry Weisiger

Sand Lake, on the Rideau Canal Elgin, Ontario