Before recorded history, the French River was a trade route for aboriginal inhabitants of this vast landscape. Trading furs, tobacco, flints, dried fish, copper and other essentials of a pre-modern people, they left few traces of their occupancy on the landscape – perhaps a good message for modern day Canadians. With the arrival of Europeans, the beginnings of a modern Canada began. In the photograph above this text, you can see those beginnings.
A man leans against a log cabin. Ulysse Carrière is the Lodge at Pine Cove’s maintenance head and well into his second decade with the lodge. Ulysse is a direct descendant of the first Français Canadiens who arrived in Quebec, during the 1600s. Voyageurs, coureur de bois, Jesuit and Recollet priests, who together with First Nations peoples, began the modern exploration, mapping, ethnographical study, trading of furs, lumbering and agriculture, that was the slow, difficult and often brutal process, that created modern Canada.
The log cabin, against which Ulysse leans, built in 1935 by Gene Rioux, was the first cabin built at Pine Cove. The log cabin represents the first home of many settlers to Canada, from the 1600s to the 1900s. This log cabin is called Bob’s. Bob was a legendary fishing guide on the French for forty years and a First Nation Cherokee. A little bit out of his nation’s traditional territory of the now Southern United States, didn’t bother Bob, he loved the French River for its fishing and clean air. The cabin, was Bob’s home for six months of the year. Today, the cabin is one of Ulysse’s maintenance buildings. Neat and tidy it houses many of the tools that help keep Lodge at Pine Cove, in such great shape. Bob would have approved.
Pine Cove Camp, as it was called in the early days, was begun by Gene Rioux in 1935. Gene was the son of a Français Canadien, Alphonse Rioux, who helped build the CPR, the transcontinental railroad that connected the young nation of Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts. Built by hand and with no electricity or running water, the construction of Pine Cove gave work to many depression era labourers at, “$1.00/day, plus room and board.” The wage included board in a shanty village across Wolseley Bay. A few remnants of the village can found, in what today is a mature forest.
Gene Rioux expanded the lodge and it became one of the north’s great lodges by the 1940s. Frequented by many Hollywood characters who came for a taste of wilderness and the wonderful fishing. Rioux sold the lodge in the early 1950s. In 1965 the main lodge building was destroyed by fire. A new lodge, which did not replicate the grandeur of the original lodge, was built and renamed Pine Cove Lodge and over the next 30 years there were multiple owners.
The current owners had canoed and camped on the French River, during the 1990s. At the time the lodge was for sale and in poor repair. They bought the property in 1999. A multiyear plan was created to build a luxury wilderness experience for guests who wanted to connect with nature, enjoy the landscape of the French River and escape the commoditized feel that pervades so many, “could be beautiful,” places. Nearly all the buildings on the property, except a few which are used today for maintenance and storage, were demolished. Over the years new cottage accommodation was added along with a new lodge, that returned the property to its former glory.
Completely rebuilt, the main lodge and accommodation provides guests, from all over the world, with a combination of rustic chic and romantic luxury. Echoing the style of the 1930s, Lodge at Pine Cove is a destination for anyone wanting an escape to the natural world. Come for a few nights and come back often. We think you probably will.
From time to time we will interest you with developments at the lodge - projects, competitions, the river & the environment.