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EDITOR’S NOTE: 㽶Ƶ is being transformed with the influx of new residents and business owners who bring with them fresh ideas, experiences and perspectives that are enriching the area. Some individuals and families are still unpacking boxes, having only moved in the past month or two, while others made the move over the last few years and are now comfortably established in their new communities. Here is one of their stories.

by Heather Marshall

Little could Antonia Lautenschlager imagine as a young girl spending carefree summer days running, swimming and playing with tourists’ children at Fred’s Camp that she would one day be running the operation. The camp on Lake Kagawong had been in the family since the late 1980s when her grandfather, Robert, and grandmother, Lotte, began offering housekeeping cabins and bungalow rentals along with a traditional campground to visitors to 㽶Ƶ. When her grandfather passed away, her father, also Robert, joined the family business and eventually ran it himself for many years.

㽶Ƶ was a home away from home for Antonia, who grew up in Sudbury until the age of 10, when the family moved to Thornbury. As soon as school let out, she and her brother were on their way to the Spring Bay area to spend the summer holidays. Even during her university years, she would return to 㽶Ƶ to work for the summer, initially in the Gore Bay Information Centre and then with Nicole Weppler who runs the town’s museum.

Antonia studied history and law at Carleton University in Ottawa but graduated into a challenging job market in 2013. She found employment as a service and maintenance coordinator for an elevator company that specializes in accessibility lifts and home elevators. When her father passed away unexpectedly in May 2022, she returned to 㽶Ƶ to run Fred’s Camp through the summer that followed.  

“Luckily for me, I had been working remotely in my full-time job during the pandemic and that enabled me to continue working from home from 㽶Ƶ, so I got through the season.”

Antonia and her partner, William Boulet, decided during the winter of 2022-23 to make the move permanent. “It was always in the back of my mind that it would eventually be my brother and I running the property, but I was not expecting it so soon, assuming we would learn working alongside our father. Thankfully, I had taken some business courses at Algonquin College after university graduation and those management studies have been very helpful in my new role.”

The decision to live permanently in Spring Bay did not come lightly. It was one that Antonia and William needed to make together. William was working for Centennial Glass in Ottawa at the time and had his own career to consider. Born in North Bay, William’s family had moved to the Ottawa area and eventually settled in Kemptville. He studied at Algonquin College earning two diplomas in the Building Construction Technician and Construction Engineering Technician programs. 

The young couple were introduced through mutual friends. “We met the traditional way, running into each other at several parties,” explains William. “We knew each other for several years before we started dating.” Antonia adds, “We’ve been in love ever since.”

Despite the difficult circumstances confronting the young couple when they first took over Fred’s Camp, they have risen to the challenge and have big plans for their shared future.  Their immediate priority is maintaining and enhancing the buildings and grounds. Over time, they hope to improve the infrastructure and offer more to their new and returning patrons. 

“We have enough work on our hands for now, but we’re considering setting up glamping sites in the next year or so. And maybe one day we’ll be able to rent out canoes, kayaks and paddle boards to our visitors.” 

The duo also has picked up employment during the off season, William working with the Municipality of Central 㽶Ƶ and Antonia taking on a job at the Gore Bay post office.

Their transition from city to rural life has been made easier by having met great people locally who have helped them settle in, sharing dinners and having games nights. 

“Living here instead of just visiting here has been a big change for sure. When I was younger, my entire family used to come up to the camp for Thanksgiving and now it’s me playing host, which I really enjoy,” says Antonia.

“The quiet here is wonderful, especially during the winter” sums up William. “It’s so peaceful after the last few whirlwind years.”

*Heather Marshall and her husband worked as journalists and consultants in the National Capital Region for more decades than they care to admit before making their Sandfield cottage their permanent home.  A lifelong learner, Heather loves discovering new things and people and relishes the opportunity to write about newcomers to the 㽶Ƶ. If you would like to share your story or know of recent arrivals we should meet, send a message to HAMarshall@proton.me

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Expositor Staff
Expositor Staff
Published online by The 㽶Ƶ Expositor web staff