By Chad Ingram
Published June 22 2017
The Hawk Lake Log Chute was badly damaged during heavy flooding in May and the full extent of that damage as well as when repairs may be completed is not yet known.
“It’s a tremendous project” said Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt during a June 15 council meeting. “It was an enormous undertaking. What has to happen going forward will be just as complex.”
In her pre-political life Moffatt oversaw the reconstruction of the log chute in the early 2000s a project that took six years to complete. It was a re-creation of the structure that has existed at the site since 1861. During the logging boom of the 19th century the log chute was used to pass timber from the Hawk lakes into the Kennisis River which flows into Halls Lake where a sawmill once existed. It is the last of its kind in Ontario.
Part of the feeder system for the Trent Severn Waterway there has not yet been an assessment of the chute by Parks Canada. With the summer drawdown of water levels set to begin Moffatt said it’s possible that assessment may not be competed until late fall and until that assessment can be completed the scope of the damage to the chute remains unknown.
“If the project ends up being big enough it won’t be open until next summer” she said.
It’s unclear at this time whether the chute can be repaired or whether the entire structure will need to be replaced.
“We should have paid closer attention to those couple of timbers that needed attention” Moffatt said explaining there had been some bowing in the structure.
Just how much the project will cost and how much of it might be covered by the township’s insurance policy remains to be seen.
Because the chute is part of the TSW and because it is a historical site the process will likely require permissions from both the federal and provincial levels of government.
It also won’t be cheap.
“Everything there was custom-built” Moffatt said.