Black Donald hunt camp is where politics isleft at the door

·6 min read

Griffith -- Guy Jamieson had a very special 78th birthday November 5 at the family hunt camp deep in the woods of Greater Madawaska.

With 24 guests invited for his special day, it was a bit of a surprise when Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski showed up wearing his best Tory blues to not only bring Mr. Jamieson birthday greetings, but also to sing Valley classics as a special birthday gift.

Art Jamieson, the oldest of the Jamieson clan, drew on his wit and diplomacy to explain why the longtime MPP was invited to the camp without any conditions.

For readers unfamiliar with the Jamieson and Yakabuski families, let’s just say it’s a bit like the Orange and the Green. This Jamieson family are dyed-in-the-wool Liberals, but despite family politics, there is a strong connection between the Jamiesons and Mr. Yakabuski, much of it coming through music.

“Take a look around this room and you don’t see Liberal red or Conservative blue as the main colours inside our hunt camp,” he said. “When we invited John to come join us, I told him serious politics are left outside and when you come all you see is orange and that is just fine and dandy with us.”

Mr. Jamieson, with his wife Kathy by his side, had trouble containing his joy as his son Rob, along with his children, Sadie and Rory, and his daughter Meagan (Clarke) brought out a very colourful birthday cake, a special-order, compliments of Eganville’s Finest Ice Cream.

“We wanted to make sure dad had a cake worthy of the day and Monica and the good folks at Eganville’s Finest Ice Cream went way beyond and you can see it,” Rob said. “Sadie and Rory represent the fourth generation of Jamieson’s who first took over this camp in 1921 and almost 100 years of cards, laughter, a few pops and, of course, the music is why this hunt camp is so special.”

Valley Heritage Radio was on location recording an installment of the popular “Live From The Hunt Camp.” It was a second appearance for the trio comprised of Gerry Bimm, Lesley Galbraith and Jason Marshall.

Their visit provided a lively and entertaining atmosphere that undoubtedly carried on into the wee hours of the morning -- not wholly unlike the actions of the founding fathers back in 1923.

A remarkable record of Black Donald’s history is kept in the Hunt Camp “Bible”, a hardcover book filled with handwritten notes and pictures detailing the goings-on since 1931.

Flipping through the book, Mr. Bimm asked Rob Jamieson what makes the camp so special.

“Well, first off, we are almost a hundred years old and as I mentioned earlier, Sadie and Rory represent the next generation and it is incredible when you think of all the changes that have taken place in the world, yet this and many hunt camps through the Valley remain pretty much the same.

“Generations of family and friends have come to the Black Donald Hunt Camp and we have our own “Bible” that records most of what has taken place up here. We have the old photographs showing the wagons led by a team of horses bringing supplies in for the season. Today, we have our big pickup trucks that can race up here in no time.”

From 1923 to 1974 with horses and a cart, the hunters would enter through Marchand - Lacourse Road, off of Highway 41, into Johnny Marchand’s farm loaded with supplies for a week or two. After that Kelly Road was built and is now renamed Doorley Creek Road.

It is not only the name Jamieson that can be seen in the official history of the camp. Some past surnames are remembered by photos and notes. Among some of the original members are Aikenhead, Ferguson and Lyndsay to name a few. While most of the old names have long passed away, Art Jamieson said they were the groundbreakers who established the camp. He said the current crew of hunters have put quite a bit of effort into the new camp.

“The old main bunkhouse has a new cast of four-legged characters and they may look shy but they are anything but shy and they claimed their spot in the old house. The goal is to have all the construction completed by 2023 so an even bigger party can be planned.” he said.

Valley Sing-Along

With his ever-present smile, Mr. Yakabuski made his way up to the front of the room and joined the house band to sing some Valley classics. But before he started singing, he thanked Mr. Jamieson not only for his many years as a teacher and mentor to many young students, but as a genuine Valley musician who has kept the legacy and memory of the legendary Mac Beattie and the Ottawa Valley Melodiers alive.

Darrell Mooney, his good friend since they were young boys and who was best man at Guy’s wedding, was ready with guitar. Kyle Felhaver of White Lake, well known for his powerful fiddle style, was alongside Art Jamieson on keyboards, and the birthday boy rounded out the band with his guitar and harmonica.

As the Jamieson brothers led the band, Mr. Yakabuski sang from a playbook filled with old medleys, and as he sang some old Mac Beattie songs most of the happy guests sang along.

Towards the end of the afternoon, Mr. Bimm and Mr. Marshall said although they were thrilled to be invited back to the Black Donald camp, they explained the first time they were there they were shocked that nobody knew all the words to the Stompin’ Tom’s classic, A Sudbury Saturday Night.

Rob Jamieson assured the guests the 2021 edition of the song would not be a repeat of the 2013 visit.

“We have made copies for everyone and they are also located in the showers and outhouse and we invite anyone to go out there and sing along,” he said.

As the room filled with several out-of-tune voices, Mr. Jamieson happily played on the keyboards with a smile that seemed to last forever.

After all the participants posed for a group photo and said their goodbyes to the birthday boy, Guy Jamieson said there is nothing like the hunt camp experience and said he cherishes every moment he is there.

“That includes putting up with the snoring of some of my bunkmates over the years, some sounds you just never forget.”

Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader

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