The Lake Before Our
The discussion about lake levels has prompted
a considerable amount of talk about the old
days and what was the level of the lake. We
have no recorded data. But we have some air
photos starting in 1934 and some family
pictures which support the conclusions.
We have only one outlet from our lake and
that is Fairs Creek. The water goes down the
creek and eventually empties into the
Mississippi and then the Ottawa River. It is a
creek, and not a very robust one at that. It
follows that anything that blocks the flow of
the creek at the outlet end will cause the lake
level to rise.
But how do we judge what the levels in 1934
were from an air photo? If you look at the
creek outlet from the lake it shows a
meandering stream with some white patches
which usually indicate some blockage such as
rocks, beaver dams, or falls. The shoreline is
not very helpful as beach and shallows both
reflect light and show up lighter in the
We have however a great indicator in the shoal
off Mary’s Island. We can safely assume that
it has not changed much in the last 100 years.
If the tip of the big rock is showing, it
indicates a level. If all the rock is showing, it
indicates lower level. Once you reach this
conclusion you can go out to the shoal rock
area, do some measurements and reach some
It turns out that the shoal is an irregular
elliptical shape about 30 feet long in the east-west orientation and about 20′ across with the
big rock on the western side of the
centre. From the tip of the rock to the
surrounding bottom is about 32″-36″.
It falls off to the edges of the shoal.
The August 1934 air photos show the
shoal out of the water, but with no
vegetation on it. That means that the
level was down in mid-August compared to today’s level. We
get about 12″ of the rock showing today in mid-August,
but never the entire rock. The absence
of vegetation in 1934 indicates that the
shoal is submerged part of the year. So we are left with the conclusion that the
lake was 20″ to 24″ lower than it is now.
Jamie Hueston, who has property
downstream on Fairs Creek, reports
that a bridge was first used to for the
road to cross the creek. It was
apparently replaced a couple of times
until the culverts we have today were
It is a Township Road (Concession 5)
and we have not yet collected the
history of who, when, and how. There
was some good thinking going on with
the present culverts because they are
36″ in diameter and that is double the
annual level change in the lake of 18″.
There is a built-in error factor of two
before the water level could raise too
much and wash out the road.
Roads wash out from the top, not from
the bottom. Water running over the
gravel road would take that road out
overnight! If a beaver dam blocked the
culverts and the water rose higher than
the top of the road, a small flow would start
at the lowest point in the road, and that small
flow would clear a channel through the gravel
overnight. It is an amazing thing to see. We
see it every spring on our city streets when we
cut a small channel in the ice to let the water
flow to the drain, and then by the next morning
we see quite a considerable channel has been
cut through the ice.
Most of the time, the downstream creek level
is below the bottom of the culvert, so fish
would have no way passing from the creek to
the lake. However, on June 20th, 2004 the
downstream creek level was at the same level
as the water coming out of the culvert. Fish
could pass through the culvert to the lake.
This also means that if the lake is 3′ higher,
then the creek is as well, and that requires a
whole bunch of new thinking.
Good history and interesting for sure. But
most on the lake have built since 1980. We
built with the present water level in mind and
it is not going back to the older level. What
we have is what we have.
Relative to the bottom of our north culvert,
the lake starts about 18″ in the spring, goes
down to zero in mid-summer, that back up to
18″ in the fall.
Those on the eastern end of the lake would
like a little more water depth in the summer
because their end is very shallow. Last year’s
beaver dam gave a good indication of about
10″ more of mid-summer water level. As a
starting point, the Lake Association passed a
motion suggesting the mid-summer level be
10″ above the bottom of the culvert. We are
still in the discussion stage. It is a long
process with everyone on the lake and
downstream from the lake having a voice
before the desired level is fixed. We are still at
the stage of discussion with lake residents.
By the way, the mid-June water level is
about that 10″ of depth.
Under Martyn Howard’s leadership we
have hazard markers out on the shoals
west of Mary’s Island. They are
outdated propane tanks that have been
painted white and fluorescent orange.
At our meeting, we noted two other
locations on the lake marked by
owners: on the north-eastern end near
Doug Love’s, and near the eastern end
of the north-most island.
One fallout of studying old air photos
was the discovery of a shoal in the
centre of MacCrimmon Bay (that is the
big bay on the south side). The rocks
are only 10″ under the surface. Why
we haven’t smashed into that is beyond
belief (or maybe we have and didn’t do
anything about it). We are in the
process of marking it.
Addresses – PIN on the
We now have three PIN (Property
Identification Numbers) signs up on the
lake – two on Lakeside Rd and one on
Fairs Lane. Just 107 to go.
Patterson Lake Scenic
If you haven’t look lately, we have
added a number of photos to our
gallery for Patterson Lake.
Have a look at:
are always interested in more. You
can contact Lorne at:
Newsletter was produced by Lorne
Bowerman. HELP, comments,
suggestions, or articles are welcome.