Since settlers began fishing along the Cascapedia River there have been ten ‘official’ fishing camps constructed. Although numerous inns and houses also served to house visiting anglers (such as the Woodman Inn), these camps were constructed specifically to serve as private lodging places for fishing enthusiasts, guides, and support staff.
To learn more about these establishments, or about the people who built and occupied them, see our gift shop for a copy of Hoagy B. Carmichael's A History of the Grand Cascapedia, Vols 1 and 2.
Construction on Camp Chaleur, originally called “Phipps Cottage”, began in August 1920. The place chosen for its construction was a scenic hillside situated on the Maria side of the river. The Phipps brothers, who originally commissioned the camp’s construction, hired numerous locals to help with the building efforts. The camp was 179 feet long with two separate wings and seven bedrooms (two of which were reserved for staff). Each bedroom had its own private washroom. The camp also included a large living room and dining room. In 1922, once the initial construction was complete, it opened for its first season. The Phipps brothers (and their friends and family) enjoyed spending much of the summer on the coast, enjoying the luxury of their new fishing camp.
In 1938 the camp underwent major renovations. Peter Nadeau, a local businessman, was hired to add a 77 foot, 6 inch extension to the camp. With the extension came three new bedrooms (with fireplaces and private suite bathrooms) and a living room with a large stone fireplace. Nadeau and his crew also built a long, screened veranda attached to the southern wing of the camp, making it a total of 326 feet long. It was among the first camps to possess indoor plumbing.
The beautiful camp came to a tragic end in 1977. The camp burned on a chilly night in late winter and, in less than an hour, nothing was left. Today, all that remains at the site of the camp is the cement outline of Mr. Engelhard’s 45 pound salmon, which marked the camp’s main entrance.
William Butts Mershon (1856-1943) first came to the Grand Cascapedia in 1884. He was an avid fisherman and, in 1893, he decided he wanted to build his own private fishing camp so that he might have somewhere comfortable to stay when he visited the coast. Mershon called his camp “Cascapedia Cottage”, as it overlooked much of the lower valley. The building was constructed in the summer of 1894 by local labourers. It contained four bedrooms and a spacious living room that featured a large brick fireplace as its focal point. Wanting to take full advantage of the scenic beauty around the camp, Mershon also had two porches built on either end of the camp, one facing the forest in the east where the sun rose and the other facing the mountains in the west where the sun set. The original camp did not include, however, a kitchen, so guests and staff alike had their meals prepared at a neighbouring dwelling (owned by a man named Peter Barter) and delivered to the camp at mealtimes. For the use of his kitchen, Mr. Barter charged Mr. Mershon two cents Canadian per meal.
The camp changed ownership several times after Mershon’s death. On Thanksgiving Eve 1943, James Bonbright bought the camp for 20,000 dollars (an exorbitant amount of money for the time). Upon taking ownership of the camp, Mr. Bonbright changed the camp’s name from Cascapedia Cottage to Horse Island, the name it still retains to this day.
In 1990 Leonard Schlemm bought the camp and, within two years, he and his wife had rebuilt the entire structure from the ground up. They put in a new foundation and remodelled the inside, giving the camp a second story skylight and building a small fitness gym not far from the Bonbright cottage.
Lorne Cottage, originally known as Cascapedia House, was constructed by the Marquis of Lorne for his wife, Princess Louise, in 1880. After Princess Louise was injured in a sleighing accident in Ottawa, the Marquis of Lorne wanted her to have a quiet retreat where she could recuperate in private. Cascapedia House was constructed for this purpose. It was the first pre-fabricated building in Canada and, after being built in Montreal, the Marquis of Lorne had the building transported by boat to its current location along the Cascapedia River.
After completing his stint as the Governor General of Canada, the Marquis sold the cottage, lands, and waters to two wealthy American anglers, Charles B. Barnes and Frederick W. Curtis, in 1883. In honour of its former inhabitant, Barnes and Curtis renamed the camp Lorne Cottage, the name the camp is still known by today. Both men were skilled fishermen and Barnes, who is featured in our Salmon Hall of Fame, caught a 53 pound salmon in 1911 during his ownership of Lorne Cottage
When Barnes died en route to the Gaspe Coast in 1912 the camp was eventually sold to the Spaulding family. The Spaulding family and their guests kept Lorne Cottage's tradition of fishing excellence alive. In 1922, for example, there were six fish over forty-pounds caught by individuals staying at the camp. The Spaulding family also continued to renovate the camp by adding additional bedrooms and a kitchen.
The Micmac Camp
In May 1998 the Quebec’s Environment and Wildlife Ministry granted the Gesgapegiag Band, through a pilot project, the rights to sell fishing days to anglers wishing to come to the Grand Cascapedia River. The Cascapedia Society allotted a total of four rods on four zones of the river; these rods are managed by Guy Condo and his wife Catherine Johnston who bought a beautiful property situated on the lower part of the river. The magnificent two story house was built in 1822 by Austin McKay a wealthy local ship builder originally from Scotland. For more than 15 years now, the camp has proven to be a successful business and is the preferred camp of many anglers seeking time on the river. They have access to many of the best pools on the river and, as a result, their guests have captured numerous large salmon that the Grand Cascapedia is renowned for.
Construction of Middle Camp began in the spring of 1882, not long after the Marquis of Lorne and Princess Louise built Lorne Cottage. The camp was modestly sized and comprised of two separate buildings. The first contained a small bedroom and a sitting area, while the second housed a kitchen for cooking. While visiting the site, Princess Louise and Lord Lorne called the beautiful camp “Middle Camp” because it was located near the midpoint of the river, facing two very rich fishing pools (“The Bar” and “4-24”).
The camp changed ownership in 1893 when Henry W. DeForest purchased at auction the lease of the river for his syndicate, which would become known as the Cascapedia Club. In 1899 they began renovating and expanding the property, building a small house for travelling service personnel, a slightly larger cabin for guides, and an ice house. The main house was also renovated. A large over-hanging porch was added to the eastern end of the cabin, the kitchen was expanded, and a large brick fireplace was added as a focal point to the new living room. Even after these extensive alterations, the camp’s staff still had to sleep in tents at the back of the property.
In 1932, the last year of the old club’s existence, only two members visited the coast and stayed at Middle Camp. The camp, which still exists today, is now privately owned. (Information courtesy of Hoagy B. Carmichael.)
New Dereen Camp
Lord Lansdowne, the fifth Governor General of Canada, arrived on the Grand Cascapedia River on June 14, 1884. He and his wife, the Marquess of Landsdowne, had a one story fishing camp built, which contained four bedrooms, a sitting room and a dining room. They called it New Dereen Camp, which in Gaelic means "little oak wood", after their estate in Kenmare, Ireland.
Lord Lansdowne was an ardent angler and returned to the Grand Cascapedia River each summer during his term as Governor General. He took pride in the property surrounding the camp and enjoyed clearing it so that he could also enjoy his passion for gardening. He paid to have the dirt road that led from New Richmond to the last upriver farm extended so that his guests could travel up to his camp comfortably by horse and carriage. He installed a telegraph line to New Richmond, the first of its kind in the area, so that he could keep in touch with his Ottawa office. During his four seasons on the river, he caught a total of 368 fish weighing an average of 24 pounds each, the largest being 43 pounds and the smallest at 7 ½.
The Landsdown family used the camp for more than a decade, but in 1893 the camp was purchased by the Cascapedia Club, whose original members included John L. Cadwalader, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, Edmund W. Davis, Philip Schuyler, R.G. Dun, J.J. Van Alen, Henry B. Hollins, W.K. Vanderbilt, and John S. Kennedy. The Cascapedia Club kept the camp maintained and occupied until the 1930s, when the Great Depression hit. In 1934, Amy Guest, who helped keep salmon fishing alive during the economic crisis, purchased New Dereen and lovingly maintained it for almost twenty years.
Andre Pierre Pillot, of 580 Park Ave, New York, briefly owned the camp when he purchased it from Amy Guest in 1952, before selling it once again to Charles Engelhard and James Bonbright. Mrs. Engelhard eventually became the sole owner of the camp in 1976 before selling it to M.A. Rainville. New Dereen Camp is currently owned and operated by the Shipley family.
Robert Graham Dun (1826-1900) was an American financial broker and an avid fisherman who enjoyed visiting the Cascapedia River. During his early days on the river he stayed at Woodman’s Inn, but as his love for the area grew he decided to construct a place of his own. Now married to a high-class lady with refined tastes, Dun wanted to build a place where he knew she would be comfortable when the couple visited the area.
He had Red Camp constructed in the 1887, although he continued to expand and renovate the property for the next several years, constructing a guide house in 1892 and having a large fireplace installed in 1896. He also purchased the exclusive rights to a number of fishing pools near the property.
After a brief legal dispute following Dun’s death in 1900, the property passed to his friend and fishing companion, Edmund W. Davis. Davis and his family visited the property every summer until his death in 1908. The circumstances of Davis’ death are mysterious. He was shot on the morning of June 19 near his beloved Red Camp. Some believe that Davis committed suicide (possibly with the help of his son, Steuart) after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Other rumours, however, suggest that his death was nothing more than a tragic accident, as both father and son had been out hunting on the morning of his death. The truth might never be known.
The camp was owned by numerous families after the Davis family sold the property in 1910, including the Bonbrights, but it eventually fell into disrepair. Red Camp was demolished in 1982.
Wanting to build a fishing camp of his own, Benjamin Douglass J.R. purchased a small piece of high ground on the east side of Trout Brook in 1901. Eager to see the project through, he hired Evelyn and Robert Brash to build him a three bedroom camp that featured a wide sweeping porch and a small boat landing. The Brash brothers finished constructing the camp in 1902 and an elaborate set of stairs that angled down the steep embankment to a small boat landing in 1903. With the camp now complete, Benjamin Douglass J.R. named his new camp “Douglass-Beck”. In English, “beck” means “small brook”, especially one with a rocky bed.
During the camp’s first eight years of existent, Douglass visited it regularly, making improvements every year he returned. He added a new dining room, with a large window offering a scenic view of the river and adjoining veranda. Later, he built a guide house, a shed for his boats, and a stable and carriage house.
After many seasons of fishing on the Cascapedia River, ill health and mobility issues began to limit the amount of time Douglass could spend on the Gaspe coast. As a result, he started to look for anglers to rent the camp out to. He owned and/or leased a number of rich fishing pools along the river near his property and his waters extended quite far south (until it met up with water owned by Red Camp). Douglass leased the camp in 1910 and 1911 to a man named Robert H. McCurdy. In the summer of 1923, the camp was sold to Frederick Morgan Kirby who changed the name of the camp to “Salmon Lodge”. He only owned the camp for a week or two before selling it to James Bonbright.
A group of workers, who included Hillyard Harrison and his boys, Everett and Wesley, began to clear the land for the construction of Three Islands Camp in 1934. When the construction began the workers built a long L-shaped cabin with four bedrooms and a kitchen attached to the eastern side of the dining room. The northern most room was designed as the master bedroom and was built for Mr. and Mrs. Beach. Adjacent to the master bedroom was a guest bedroom and next to it was the Rod room, which was built by Russell Campbell (who also built most of the camp’s furniture).
Due to Three Islands’ remote location upstream, thirty-two miles north of the town of Grand Cascapedia, the camp’s employees would sometimes remain at the camp for weeks at a time. As a result a small cooking house was built for the staff, in addition to a guide house and several ice houses.
In 1939, Mrs. Beach decided she wanted a proper living room, so her husband hired a slew of workers to come and build a living room with a large stone fireplace on the southern end of the building. After the living room was built they painted the exterior of the entire camp white, to see if it would help with the black fly problem.
Tracadie Camp existed as a tent-camp as early as 1880. It became a more permanent wooden structure in 1899. It was originally built downriver, between Middle Camp and Lazy Bogan. The Cascapedia Club named the camp Tracadie after the Native word “Tlaqatigejg”, which means temporary encampment or little settlement when translated into English.
Throughout its 100 year history the camp has had to overcome its fair share of hardships. During the spring of 1948, for example, the Cascapedia River burst its banks and produced a record-breaking flood that ended up sweeping most of the camp downriver. In the wake of the devastation, the camp owners at the time (Frederick Barbour and Charles Senff McVeigh) re-built the camp in 1951 and christened it “New Tracadie”. Only seven years later, however, in 1958, another major flood threatened the camp, necessitating the move to it present site.
Over the last few decades the camp has hosted a number of famous and influential people, including US President Jimmy Carter, who visited the Gaspe in the 1990s.