A little TLC for an 'iconic' wilderness camp

The Schoales Dam Ranger Camp is a quiet forest retreat tucked away in the Shepody area about a kilometre past Adair's Wilderness Lodge.

Relatively few people know it exists but, a Sussex group called the Homesteaders Association Incorporated is trying to fix up the camp so that more nature lovers can use it.

The building, which dates back to the 1800s, is located near lakes and trails, and has "a bit of historical significance," said Graham Milner, a founder of the Homesteaders Association Incorporated. It's been used over the years by the Department of Natural Resources for trapping courses and patrols for moose hunters, as well as the Boy Scouts, cadets, RCMP and fire departments.

"Even my church, the Faith Bible Baptist Fellowship, has had our youth groups go out there and use it for hikes and camping," Milner said. "Everyone who lives out there or goes out there hunting or fishing knows where this building is. It's been an icon out there for years."

Once endangered, now needs a little TLC

A few years ago, however, the Homesteaders Association Incorporated received word the camp was in danger.

"We got word that they were going to tear it down," Milner said, "but we thought that would be a shame."

The group successfully petitioned the government to take possession.

"They sold us the building, and they gave us a 20-year lease on the land," Milner said.

Homesteaders Association Incorporated is trying to fix up the camp and loan it out to other not-for-profit groups and nature lovers.

The building is still "a little rough inside," Milner said. Despite some roof leaks that have caused a bit of rot on the inside, a contractor hired to assess the building said the bones and roof structure are good.

"There's even a chimney in there in perfect shape, not a crack in it," he said. The building is "salvageable, it's just going to take a little bit of time and money to do it."

Music, fun times for good cause

Milner said the location — close to trails, lakes, and wilderness — makes the Schoales Dam Ranger Camp an ideal staging area for people who love the outdoors.

"For us, the building is a centre of activity," he said. "You're right at the cusp of outdoor adventures in that area — and hopefully the Fundy Trail will be extended to go right by there in the next couple of years as well."

"We have the steel for the roof," Milner said, "and now we're just trying to raise a little bit more money so that we can get started on it in the spring."

A musical fundraiser for refurbishing The Schoales Dam Ranger Camp will be held March 11 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior's Centre in Sussex. There will be a jam session and sing along featuring Kenny Campbell and Doris Fraser, as well as a 50/50 draw and silent auction.