A souvenir of summer-camp days: any Quin-Mo-Lac alumni out there?

Proudly hung on our oak bookcase in the Manse's living room, a souvenir of my brief summer-camp career from long ago. Found at an antique shop.

Proudly hung on our oak bookcase in the Manse’s living room, a souvenir of my brief summer-camp career from long ago. Found at an antique shop. Does that make me old?

It’s a busy time here at the Sedgwick-Brassard residence in Outremont, unpacking our vacation bags (and acquisitions – lots of books, as you might imagine) and getting ready for the return to the real world (work) tomorrow. So a very quick post tonight. Since it’s been a raw, cold, rainy and dark day, perhaps it’s only appropriate to think about summer and sunshine and clear water and – summer camp.

There is a venerable summer camp on Moira Lake not far from Madoc (which in turn is not far from Queensborough) called Camp Quin-Mo-Lac (for “Quinte/Moira/Lake,” I believe). It used to be run by the United Church of Canada and I think still is. I will say right here and now that I am not and never was and never will be a camper – because, as I discovered on my two visits to Quin-Mo-Lac, camping involves overnight sleepovers in sleeping bags on the hard, hard ground with no bathrooms; and also crafts, and don’t even get me started on that. But my memories of those two visits are, despite the lack of bathroom facilities on the overnight campout and even despite the crafts situation, reasonably positive. I think Quin-Mo-Lac is quite a nice camp. If you like camping.

Anyway, it’s funny – a nice way of saying “unnerving” – to find a souvenir of your past, which may not seem all that distant, in an antique store. But sure enough, on a recent stop at the mind-bogglingly-crowded and semi-legendary Rideau Antiques in Lombardy, Ont., I found this vintage Quin-Mo-Lac pennant. (Which I like to think dates from before my visits there in the 1960s/’70s, but I could not swear to that.) And of course I had to have it. And now it is installed at the Manse.

And so memories of overnight campouts – did I mention there were no bathrooms? – and having to do “crafts” (I shudder at the thought) greet me via that pennant whenever I’m in the Manse living room. But given that the memories are so far away that they show up in an antique store, I guess I’m safe from bathroomless camping and “crafts.” And meantime, I am very sure that Camp Quin-Mo-Lac holds many, many happy memories for generations of past and present campers, and I hope that at least a few of them might share them here. Campers? People who can tolerate bathroomless campouts and can actually do crafts? Please share your Quin-Mo-Lac memories!

22 thoughts on “A souvenir of summer-camp days: any Quin-Mo-Lac alumni out there?

  1. No comment about camping there, but a thank-you for the possible explanation of the origin of Quin-Mo-Lac. We’ve been living in Madoc for 2 1/2 years and I’ve asked around but not received any answers. And there was me, thinking it had some sort of mystic Native roots! 🙂

    • I am fairly sure I have the origin of the name right, Brenda – that is, as long as the person who explained it to us campers all those years ago had it right him/herself. By the way, if you live in Madoc you’ve probably noticed the misspelling of its name on one of the signs on Highway 62: it says “Quinn-mo-lac Road.” No proofreader for the sign painters at the MTO, I guess!

  2. Our dear little Mom went to a UCW retreat there once years ago. She was as impressed by the sleeping accommodations as you!

  3. Jeannie, you forgot about our week at Saint Mary of the Pines Campground, on the lake in Tyngsboro..or was that Dracut?. Worst week of MY life – I was 4 years olderthan you, and cried to go home the first night, I missed Mom. We were in bunkbeds in a log-cabin style building (at least we were not in sleeping bags), the bathrooms were outside in another open building, and i thought it was quite strange to have to walk outdside in our jammies at the end of the day to go to the bathroom and brush our teeth. Each day we were allowed to write postcards home to our parents (a 1/2-hour drive away on Chelmsford Street in Lowell) and i gave them an earful and begged them to come and get me. I was painfully shy and did not want to meet others, learn how to swim, or go hiking. You, however, had the time of your life and told every other little girl you met there that you’d be friends with them forever. LOL

  4. Your post of Jan. 3, 2014 about being homesick (and making a reference to camp) brought me to this page. Oh, yes — I can relate. In Grade 11, some students somehow (and I don’t recall how) got the last week of school off, as a trade for going to Camp Quin-Mo-Lac. I had never been there before, and as we drove down the long hill to get to the campground, I was intrigued by the setting. It’s a lovely place, alright, but they did not tell us that we would be out running up that hill every morning at 7.00am, and that that would be followed by a dip in the lake — did I mention: every morning! Apart from that, we had fun, and it was the last time that I saw some of my friends from CHSS, as I had moved and would be resuming school elsewhere.

    So, my memories of the experience at QML are pleasant, apart from some of the physical stuff that none of us wanted to do (and the square dance where we were expected to participate, although some of us managed to sneak outside and miss most of it.) We had fun, though, and I’m glad that I attended. That was 1970 — my one and only time down that road to the campground.

    • Eeek, yes, the polar-bear dip in the lake! And square dancing (which I will always be hopeless at – too much co-ordination involved, plus I hate taking orders). Sash, I’m glad your overall camp memories are good ones, but boy, have you ever reminded me of the things I did not like about camp!

      • Well, the square dancing incident was made even worse when we saw the piano player walk in the big room — a teacher that we had all had at Madoc Public School! He tried to teach square dancing in school, as part of some P.E. exercise, and none of us cared for it then, so we weren’t terribly excited at QML, either. So, there we there, trapped in this room with a teacher who had put us through our paces when we were in school. When we didn’t seem too thrilled that evening at the camp, he started calling out names and reminding us of the value of paying attention. That’s when we started finding excuses to leave the room. And what the heck? He was no longer our teacher, so we didn’t care! Doe-see-doe somewhere else, see ya later!!

  5. I am a veteran Quin-Mo-Lac camper of the 1970s. It was a wonderful annual (for some 6 years) event for me. I especially like seeing photographs of my dad in the mess hall. I had never known of the origin of the name of the camp, however, although I kind of assumed the “Quinte” part. I enjoyed packing my kit according to the list provided by the camp and attending the break away from my family and the somewhat tedious summer break from school.
    I would love to return to that place of innocence, riding in “Peace canoes” and communing with nature. I miss this in today’s whirlwind.
    Hopefully, today’s campers will relish the experience in years to come.

    • Ruth, perhaps you and I were at Quin-Mo-Lac at the same time! Though clearly you enjoyed the camping experience more than I did. Is your dad The Rev. Ron Smeaton (have I got the first name right?) who was in Peterborough for a time? I have great memories of attending a rock-music-infused celebration of the gospel stories that he was the driving force behind. Heady times!

      • Hi there! We were probably at camp at the same time. Indeed, my dad was Rev. Ron Smeaton. He passed away this past August at the ripe age of 80. I almost forgot about writing on this page. I am not the most computer savvy person, so I apologize for taking so long to respond.
        I hope this finds you and yours hale and hearty. I now live in Utah with my husband, Mac, a hot air balloon pilot. I am an oncology nurse and enjoy the good life in the US Rocky Mountains.
        Great to hear from you.

      • Ruth, your message came just a few days after I’d seen in the United Church Observer that your dad had died. I was so sorry to hear it. He was a minister, and a person, full of life and spirit, and I am sure he inspired many people. My goodness, you have moved far from your Canadian roots (and Quin-Mo-Lac)! Utah is a beautiful place; I remember incredible scenery from a visit there a while back. Thanks for your connection with Meanwhile, at the Manse! I hope our paths might cross sometime and we can talk about our shared memories of growing up the daughter of a United Church minister.

  6. Would you (and perhaps your SO) be interested in visiting me and my husband in Utah? It is truly a magnificent piece of God’s creation and I would love to share it.

    • Ruth, what a lovely invitation! It’s been probably 25 years (though I can hardly believe it) since my one and only visit to Utah, and I’d love to see that remarkable country again. If Raymond and I can drum up an occasion (and some time) to pay a visit to the Great Southwest, I will be sure to let you know. It would be terrific to meet you and compare notes about our shared United Church pasts.

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