Ed Lentz shines a light on South Algonquin’s forest heritage

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The South Algonquin Business Alliance drew attention to a project carried out by local seasonal resident Ed Lentz in its November 5 newsletter. He would like to expand the beach at Tom and Mick Murray Park and add historic signage. While the widening of the beach proposal was rejected by the South Algonquin Township council at its November 3 meeting, Lentz hopes the storyboards will be completed and installed in the park by summer 2022.

SABA Secretary Angela Pollak informed SABA newsletter recipients on November 5 that Lentz was leading this project, which she described as very exciting, at Tom and Mick Murray Park in Madawaska. Finally, storyboards will be installed to highlight the history of Murray Bros Lumber Company in the region and to expand the park’s beach, which is located on Lac des Écorces. While the cost of these signs was expected to be around $ 4,000, she said Lentz had received a lot of support from the recreation committee and local businesses. According to the newsletter, SABA will send a letter of support to South Algonquin Township Council, and they plan to introduce the park when they create their new My South Algonquin website and app.

Bryan Martin, CAO / Clerk-Treasurer, confirms that this project has been discussed with the recreation committee, but has not yet had much discussion in council.

“No request has been made for financial or other support from the council,” he said.

However, at the November 3 council meeting, council briefly discussed this and decided to decline to consider the expansion of the beach at Tom and Mick Murray Park due to ongoing negotiations over the Algonquin land claims. and the difficulties that such a decision would present at this time. .

Lentz confirms that he is working with the Madawaska Recreation Committee to make these storyboards a reality. He says the Tom and Mick Murray Park was created by the first council of the Township of South Algonquin and was officially opened in 2000.

“[It was done] through the efforts of the then sub-committee of the South Algonquin Township Murchison and Lyell Parks and Recreation Committee. I was chair of this committee, and with the help of Lyell’s advisor, Lucien LaCombe, we were able to make it happen with the help of people, businesses and governments, ”he says.

Lentz recalls that at the time, they were unable to do justice to the early pioneers and founders of the Murray Bros. Lumber Company which still plays an important role in the lives of local residents.

“So, I volunteered to do storyboards for this park, as was done for the JR Booth Memorial Park in Madawaska. The local recreation committee and local councilors agreed to find funding if I got support from Murray Bros. Lumber Company, which I did, ”he says.

Lentz says he has researched many families in the area and has been aided by Bert Wasmund’s research on the Wasmund and Budarick families, Hazel Jessup’s notes on early settlers and that he has also got a lot of information from Mark Wormke, who has a Facebook group called Renfrew County Germans and Wends. His mother Pearl Ward also wrote invaluable information and he also read a book called “A Wee Bit of Wicklow” and researched online surveying the area and building settlement roads to attract settlers. , as the Peterson Road connected with the Opeongo Road in Radcliffe Township in Renfrew County, which he said was the route taken by many second-generation settlers to settle in Lyell Township.

“I also posted a few stories on the Grandir au Madawaska Facebook group, and friends have added to the information. My father, the Reverend Arthur B. Lentz, always had a story to tell and if he and my Uncle Clifford were together, one would always try to outdo the other. I know my father usually started his sermons with a story. I only wish I had recorded some of those times, ”he says.

Lentz says he envisions about five storyboards, made of metal, with an attractive and user-friendly design to entice residents and tourists alike to read them. He is currently looking for a company to manufacture the signs and he hopes to have them ready for installation by next summer.

Liam Murray works in human resources and sales at Murray Bros. Lumber Company, and he says he is the son of Ted Murray, the second fourth generation Murray working in the company (with Gaelen Murray). He says Lentz had discussed with them plans to create storyboards covering the history of colonization and progress in the area.

“It’s people like Ed who are involved in the community that make them leave, and we should all be grateful for the work he put into this project. We think this project is significant because it is important for people living and recreating in this region to know its history. Knowing your family history is about instilling a personal identity and self-esteem, ”he says.

Murray says Murray Bros. Lumber is happy to provide some of the building materials that will be needed to complete the storyboards, and will do so when Lentz orders them to. He also reveals that Lentz was granted permission to use content from a book Ted Murray wrote in 2002 titled The Sawdust Gene, published the year Murray Bros. celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Murray believes that the people of Lyell Township are ethnic and that it would have been quite difficult to clear the land and get out of it. He says the people who persist in the area today have characteristics that are almost a necessity to thrive in the area, such as hard working, honest, community oriented, and having a passion and addiction for the natural world. He thinks they surely had these traits passed down from their ancestors.

“I would also like to make sure that the storyboards recognize the history, continued presence and importance of not only the early settlers of Lyell Township, but also the Algonquin peoples who have a much longer history on the land. Murray Bros. and this region would not be what it is today without the help and support of this community. Murray Bros. can talk about the impact of factory workers and local forestry contractors who continue to help us deliver products our customers need and value. Members of Whitney and the region’s Algonquin community have played and continue to be important to the region’s history, culture, economic and social fabric. The stories and culture of these peoples must continue to be told and celebrated in a sensitive and meaningful way, including through these storyboards, ”he said.

Lentz himself has deep roots in the community and says his great-grandfather was very lucky that his parents, Nicholas and Margaret Brown, live in Wicklow Township. In the 1880s, Lentz’s great-grandfather, Urban Brown, worked in the Cross Lake (now Lyell Lake) area of ​​Lyell Township for the MacLaughlin Lumber Company, squaring and cutting pine lumber. transport to Old North Road, which was a war route from Maynooth to the Egan Estate on the Madawaska River.

“He had seen land that he thought would be a large farm and he built a shelter for his team of horses. He married Sarah Anne Livingstone and lived with his parents in Pleasant Valley, then in 1896 he built his log house and moved to Cross Lake when my grandmother was born… Many in-laws from Urban would follow. its track called Cross Lake Road. but did not stay. But many of his children would marry and stay, ”he said.

Lentz says he has done a tremendous amount of research into the history of the area, and what impressed him the most were the first settlers who came to the area and despite the hardships, made their home in Lyell Township. He says that in his research it was interesting that while some people held on and made their homes despite adversity, others gave up and moved on.

“They had to maintain the road along their property and have log houses built at least 20 feet by 18 feet. They had to take possession within a month and have, within four years, 12 acres of cultivated land to get the free land and the concession, ”he says. “I also discovered that Lyell was named after Charles Lyell, a Scottish geologist who demonstrated the power of known natural causes to explain the history of the Earth.”


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