Peninsula Bruce Trail Club Pioneers – 60 Years Ago

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Photo Courtesy of Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, A2014.003.K65-09-20 Photo: Howard Krug, Bud and Peter Street, and Dan McLean at old Burdock Camp, May 9, 1965 / by Bruce Krug.
Submitted by Brenda Stewart, PBTC Archivist 

Continuing with the theme of recognizing the Peninsula Bruce Trail Club (PBTC) founding pioneers for our 60th anniversary this year, we are reprinting this article originally published in the “Rattler” in 2014. It was written by Deb Sturdevant, former PBTC Archivist about Howard and Bruce Krug, from Chesley. 

50 Years Ago: Chesley Bruce Trail Club

Howard Krug (1904-1997) and his brother Bruce Krug (1919-2013) of Chesley, Ontario are known as two of the pioneers of the Peninsula section of the Bruce Trail, having cut and blazed portions of original trail between Cabot Head and northwest of Cave Point fifty years ago. Bruce Krug was awarded a Pioneer Plaque at the PBTC 2003 AGM for his contributions to establishing the trail, and in 2007 he was awarded the BTC’s Calypso Orchid Environmental Award for his significant contributions to the restoration and preservation of the Bruce Trail and Niagara Escarpment. 

After Bruce’s passing in 2013, his Estate donated Peninsula properties to the Bruce Trail Conservancy. 

The Estate also donated many boxes of Krug family personal, business, and local history records to the Archives at the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre. Among those many treasures was one of particular interest to the PBTC – a diary created by Howard Krug entitled “Notes of the Chesley Bruce Trail Club”! As Howard noted in the first entry, this was “an unorganized group from Chesley and vicinity which helped to cut and mark parts of the Bruce Trail.” Although other parts of the trail were much closer to Chesley, the group decided to help in the Peninsula area “where it appeared that there might be less people interested in helping with the Trail.” From Chesley to Cabot Head, the southern most starting point, would have been more than two hours of driving. 

They made their start on November 24, 1963, meeting Jack Johnstone and his son at Cabot’s Head Lighthouse. At that time, until 1978, the Trail ran from Wingfield Basin, along the base of West Bluff and then beside the escarpment edge to High Dump. Currently, the trail cuts inland north of Dyer’s Bay, before Cabot Head, emerging along the escarpment edge again at High Dump. The BTC is working towards the possibility that one day the trail will again follow a route similar to that blazed by the Chesley group. 

Photo Courtesy of Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, A2014.003.K63-14-03 Photo: Chesley BTC members among remains of a ship boiler on the shore north of Wingfield Basin, November 24, 1963 / by Bruce Krug.

The diary records their trail work activities on thirteen weekend days, from 1963-1965. The group ranged from two to nine people, including: Howard and Bruce Krug, Jeff Ankerman, Dennis Bradley, Ted Cobean, Floyd Dudgeon, Doug Gaelor, Don McLean, Jim Siegrist, Tom and John Soper, Ken Steinhoff, Sid, Peter and Bud Street, George Toner, and Jim Witzhee. 

It is clear from Howard’s notes that they enjoyed the unexplored nature of the area, including the fascinating views and interesting discoveries. Perhaps not so enjoyable were the access challenges, sometimes resulting in more time spent hiking to the trail than working on the trail. The following is a selection of excerpts from the diary, the original of which is available to view in the Research Room and Archives at the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre (brucemuseum.ca). 

November 24, 1963: From Cabot Head Lighthouse, “we walked south of Wingfield Basin and the small lake coming out of the stony shore near the old boiler. Continuing along this Stony and pebbly shore, we came to where the Bluff approached the shore and we were all fascinated by the large rock boulders which had fallen from the bluff and made it nearly impossible to get by at places.” The February 1968 Bruce Trail Guide Book notes in the Rocky Bay area description “For the next mile the Trail follows the shoreline to reach West Bluff. Here several house-size boulders pepper the Trail where previous mountain climbing experience is an asset.”

Photo Courtesy of Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, A2014.003.K64-08-11 Photo: Howard Krug, north of Cabot Head, April 1964/ by Bruce Krug.

April 12 or 19, 1964: “We came across a trail running away from the lake here, so Tom and I followed it and it led to Urbshott’s hunting camp.”

May 3, 1964: “…we drove in to the north end of Gillies Lake… we went in the trail past Lymburner Lake and Conlon Lake to Urbshott’s camp and then on to join up with our previous stopping place. We did not cut trail today, but carried on along the top of the cliff and partly marked where the Trail should run, going as far as the High Dump. Here we went down to the shore (only place of access in this section) and had our lunch. Some of the old timber work still remains of the slide which they had to put logs down to the shore from the top of the cliff. From the High Dump, a trail leads in the towards Moore Lake so we took this trail and after about a 4 mile hike, we came out to the road, after which Jack (Johnstone) and I had the additional walk of about a mile to get to the cars.”

October 18, 1964: “ We walked in the Umbrella-Moore Lake trail to High Dump. After our long walk in from the car, our group were pretty leg weary, especially since some shoes were not fitting too good, so after cutting between ¼ and ½ mile, we retraced our steps on that long walk out.”

October 25, 1964: “The road that we took in today from near Emmett Lake goes past what is called Burdock Camp. This is an old logging camp of Casters and the clearance around the remains of the log buildings gives ample evidence of the name of the camp without any need of signs.”

May 2, 1965: “ We went in the Emmett Lake road and trail to Halfway Rock Dump. At places we had quite a lot of snow on the road but, with the help of others pushing, we managed to get through. …We were working in deep snow for most of the way until we got on top of the ridge running out to Cave Point.”

May 16, 1965: “We worked east from the end of the road [Cameron Lake Forest road] towards Crawford Warder’s cabin. When we got near it a thunderstorm came up and we had to run for shelter. Fortunately, he does not leave the place locked so we spent the duration of the storm inside and watched the storm over the lake… we headed back for the car with not too much work to show for the day’s trip.” 

More information about the Krugs’ contributions to conservation, the BTC and Bruce County communities may be found in Ross McLean’s booklets “50 to Remember” (2012) and “Forty Years of Trail Building: the People and Stories of the Peninsula Bruce Trail Club” (2004), as well as the book “A Century of Excellence: Krug Bros. & Co. Furniture Manufacturers” by Howard Krug and Ruth Cathcart (ed.), (2001), or contact PBTC Archives at pbtcarchives@gmail.ca