Errington's Wilderness Island

Lake Wagatongushi, Ontario

Traveling 200 miles (6 hours) north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Canada. the train will stop at mile marker #206. There are no roads for miles around. You get off the train at Wabatongushi Lake and wait by the train tracks. A small 14' speedboat pulls up on the shore and takes you (1.5 miles) to Errington's Wilderness Island Resort. The only other way to the island is by seaplane.

The resort is on a 10 acre island owned by Al and Doris Errington. They have 6 suites attached to the main lodge and also have several fishing cabins. This is the best way to experience nature in the middle of Ontario. People come here to view wildlife or go fishing. The island is very isolated offering great relaxation along with excellent facilities, food and hospitality.

BUT.......... on July 4th....

From "Wilderness Island News"....In 26 years on Lake Wabatongushi I have never seen a storm remotely comparable to the one that passed over our resort at 6:15 pm on July 4 last summer. We had 20 minutes of the highest winds Ihave ever seen and the rain came down so hard we sometimes could not see more than 50 feet. The next day I phoned environment Canada to find out what hit us and they said it was a Derecho. I had never hear of a Derecho before so he explained vasically what it was.


A cold wet air mass passes over a hot dry air mass. As the cold wet air mass is forced higher very cold precipitation forms, falls through the hot dry air mass instantly colling the hot air. This causes down drafts which can be well over 100 m.p.h. Because these winds are straight down the tendency is for the tops of trees to snap off rather than the whole tree be uprooted.

We now have areas of snapped off trees around the lake. On a positive note, many of the trees should sprout new branches allowing for great nestling platforms for heron,bald eagles and ospreys. The trees that do die will be good for the pileated and other woodpeckers as well as the wood ducks which use the pileated woodpeckers holes for nesting.

We had trees fall on all of our buildings except 2 cabins and the lodge. Most suffered minimal or no damage, a tribute to the strength of log cabins, except cabin #15 which had significant damage to the roof structure.

An unfortunate consequence of the Derecho was a number of orphaned Great Blue herons. The Derecho passed right through a local rookery. We ended up with 5 of these orphans at our resort. One had an unjured wing and was sent by train to Sault Ste. Marie for rehabilitation. Because the joint in his wing was damaged they were unable to restore the wing to full function so he is now a permanent resident of the SpruceHaven Zoo in Sault Ste. Marie. The other heron orphans stayed around for the next few weeks. They were a little young to be on their own so we supplemented their diet with nimmows. They regained strength rapidly and were flying and self supporting by early August. Herons are instinctive migrators. They should do well and we hope they visit us occasionally. Herons are generally shy birds so it was a good opportunity to ovserve them closely.

The Derecho was an interesting weather phenomenon which did contribute to our education, but I hope it is at least another 26 years before another one visits Lake Wabatonaushi.

(Liz and I never saw a storm like this. It was close to a tornado that I have been in but covered a path over 10 miles wide and across a good part of Ontario. It came up very fast, with no warning. The next day the train was over 10 hours late because of all the trees tops that were down and covering the tracks. An experience I don't want to have for another 62 years!)


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