Soundings - Initial Sketch
Big Basswood Lake, (Wakwekobi),
is a significant feature of the North Shore of Lake Huron area of the
Canadian Shield. Clear waters boast an impressive depth visibility. (Secchi
disc readings have exceeded ten metres). Its
surface level, 691 feet above mean sea level, is about 100 feet or 30
metres above that of Bright Lake to the south.
Bright Lake's surface, in turn, is about 15 feet or 4+ metres above
that of Lake Huron, still further to the south. The former drop occurs in
less than 1 kilometre - the latter over a distance in excess of 20
With an abundant fish population in
earlier days, and surrounding forest cover, Basswood and it and its
surroundings undoubtedly contributed to an early harvest of fish, fur, and
wood resources for native peoples and early visitors. Native peoples in transit along Lake Huron's North Shore are
said to have crossed country from the 'big lake' to Wakwekobi to acquire
basswood trees - a favourite for the gunwales of their canoes.
Wood resources from abundant timber
stands accounted for the locating of sawmills driven by direct water-power
from the creek at Day Mills.(Harris Creek.)
Such on-site power was one of the key factors in determining
settlement sites in early Ontario. Along
with the sawmills, the site boasted a grist mill, a furniture factory,and
a box factory in their own times. Settlers
moved in at the same time as the lumbermen; others followed in later
years. Their crops of grain
accounted for the need for grist mills.
Basswood's waters, derived primarily
from lake-bottom springs, served for the transit of log booms across the
lake from the area to the north of the lake, to Dobie Bay at the head of
the creek, to feed the mills. Land
trips from the south shore were linked by rowboat across the lake to the
trail from the site of 'the Dunn farm' to the Goldenburg settlement
further north. Day Mills
townsite was laid out east and west of the creek - Portage Street still
exits Highway 17 east of the creek. A field on Church Street was host-site
for an annual picnic for the people of the surrounding area.
Nearby Indian Point Lodge was one of the early 'lodge and cabin'
facilities drawing 'tourists' to Basswood.
Directly across the lake on the north shore was the Hunt Club,
(Clubhouse). Dehler's Campground at the southwest end of the lake reminds
old time visitors of the location of the
former Alpha Goma Club. Popular commercial tourist operations
included, (from around the time of World War II), Bill Phillips' Lodge at
the northwest end of the lake, Melwel
Lodge (at the lake's east end), and Indiana
Bay, (now Basswood Camp), on the south shore, with access by road from
As roads and cars improved, cars
became more universally owned by individuals, and disposable income
increased with increasing salaries and wages. Annual vacations were
negotiated into industrial and other contracts, and vacationing visitors
from an increasingly wide social spectrum came from the urban south in
Ontario and Michigan, and from further afield, as well as from urban
centres in Northern Ontario. Demand
for shore proerties increased, and summer cottages sprang up to mark the
presence of the new 'tourists'.
Pristine waters, surrounding forests
and outstanding rock formations create an appealing landscape attractive
to cottagers and other vacationing visitors.
level data: National Topographic System, Map 41J, Blind River, edition 1.