This year's Annual General Meeting will be held on Sunday, August 2, at 10 am

(at the Library, adjacent to #57).

Please come, even if you are not members.

There will be the usual reports, and a talk on DOCKS. There will also be a report on the long-running plan to grant rights of way to the trails.

The 'Dock Talk' will examine the types of docks we use, their construction, repair, and rebuilding. We will look at different materials now available, regulations, the placement of docks to suit weather and wakes, a look at the use of mooring whips, and even a bit on moorings for small boats and swimming floats.

In 2010, the Association put forward a plan by John Feltmate and attorney Richard Minard to let folks acquire rights of way to use the 66 foot trails that criss-cross the island. The trails are mostly owned by the outfit that developed the island, and there is no identified succession plan when that organization closes down at some future time. Many folks believed they already had rights of way, but the reality is complex due to difficulties in the filing of deeds. A number of folks paid $300 to join the plan and, after much delay, the thing is just about to conclude, successfully. John Feltmate will give a brief presentation on that topic, and then there will be a separate followup session for participants and others who are interested after the AGM concludes.

Come to the Library at 10 am. Bring folding chairs or perhaps a beach towel. We will do our best to keep the meeting snappy and interesting.

And, by recent tradition, we will serve ice cream cones when the meeting adjourns!

The Birch Island Association (technically the Birch Island Residential Property Owner's Association) exists to promote the well-being of the island and islanders.

Bob Cavenagh
2015 President

P.S.: Treasurer Alice Howarth will be delighted to accept your $40 dues at the meeting!


2015 Spring Newsletter from BIRPOA, your Birch Island Association

The 2015 cottage season kicked off this past weekend. This winter was an odd one with low water levels and then a surge of water from upper lakes. We can expect, and should value, some rainfall in the next week or so. And we will all also welcome some sun and a sense of renewal. Birch Island is a wonderful place. I breathe a sigh of substantial relief when I arrive for a stay and can hardly wait to get there.

We welcome new property owners Karen and Rory Gooderham, who have purchased lot 19 on the south side of the island, and expect they will enjoy the island as much as we all do.

Last year the Association executive took a good look at our lake water and its suitability for drinking. We tested water samples from around the island at different times. At the AGM we presented our findings and recommendations on water and water processing systems. In a nutshell: we can expect to find contaminants in our water, and their locations and quantities do vary over time. Some parts of the lake seem more susceptible to contamination than others, but there are no locations that are completely free of bacteria. This is neither surprising nor disturbing, or anything exceptional. It IS clear, however, that those of us who wish to drink lake water should take some proactive measures to filter or process the water that comes to our taps. Pre-filters in the lake to keep out debris and zebra mussels, sediment filters at our water pumps, and either ultraviolet sterilization or the use of high-tech antibacterial filtration at the kitchen sink have proved to work well. This latter filtration is not too expensive ($100-150 for the high tech filter and an annual cost of less than $30, more for the UV system). I can provide details and we will work up a series of suggestions for the website. I have also placed copies of a book on Cottage Water Systems, by Max Burns, in the library. If you would like to test your water, either at the intake point or at your sink, we have sample bottles, also at the library. These can be dropped off in Kingston or Ottawa and other places too.

This summer we will take a look at DOCKS: what works, what doesn’t, care and maintenance, legal issues, etc. Our docks are, quite literally, our bridges to the mainland, and they require attention from time to time. Pipe docks, crib docks, floating docks, and perhaps a few others all have their particular needs, and the winter ice can damage them badly. The 2015 AGM will include a presentation on this topic. Even before that, I will be putting a book on docks in the library when I get to the island. The Dock Manual, also by Max Burns, is pretty much the classic on this topic. Burns is himself a Canadian cottager and writes from experience.

What is life at the cottage without interesting food and drink? Sunset on the deck seems to demand company and something in a glass and on a plate. We always seem to be questing for a tasty but affordable cottage wine, a new beer, or a completely non-alcoholic drink that will intrigue kids and adults alike. Last year we discovered the SodaStream machine that makes carbonated ‘seltzer’ water for many uses out of tap water and a CO2 cartridge—no more carrying big bottles. And cottage recipes: what can we try this summer? My wife, Susan, contributes this idea for pizza on the grill (no need for the oven during a hot summer day):

Make or buy pizza dough and then shape small pizza crusts – as for an individual pizza. Freeze the crusts on a cookie sheet – once frozen, separate them with wax paper and freeze in bag or container. When you want to have pizza, fire up the grill (and charcoal grills give you terrific flavor), throw the frozen disk of dough(or several) on the grill. They will start to cook in minutes – watch carefully. Flip crusts over to grill the other side – take crusts off the grill – then add sauce, and all the other pizza toppings. Put on cookie sheet and return to grill, close lid and let it “bake” for a few seconds – just to melt the cheese etc. You can also put the crust on a‘non-lit side of the grill. We have done this with our grandchildren and they enjoy inventing their own pizzas.

The library has become an entrenched part of island life. I had no notion it would be so popular when we decided to build it, but I am delighted. The association has used the Library as a kind of focal point: the site of meetings, a place to take a break on a trail hike, a place to sit and read with kids, and of course a place to find a book or puzzle or perhaps a dvd or cd. The site gained a new bench by the Shaws. The building will sprout a bulletin board later in the spring, and last fall a new deck and ramp were installed; Ry Weisiger has crafted a new railing which we will also install this spring. Like all Association activities, the library was built and is maintained by volunteers, and all its materials were donated by islanders and friends. We continue to seek books, and each year we also cull older books that don’t seem to be circulating. Here is what we most want: current books on all topics, by well-regarded authors. These are the sorts of books that bookstores put forward on display. While older books are valuable to some of us, they don’t seem to get as much use and we are restricted by the available shelf space. (I sometimes wish we had built a bigger building.) Paola Durando, Jae Shaw, Kathy Weisiger, and I form the library committee.

For several years now, the trails have been mowed by several volunteers. Chief among these is stalwart volunteer Ry Weisiger, who has been cutting the main trail and several side trails 1-2 times a summer, using a gasoline push mower! He is on the executive as our ‘trail boss.’ He continually asks folks to contact him if they encounter problems on the trails, such as downed trees, branches, etc.

Your island association and its ‘executive’ (officially it is the Birch Island Residential Property Owners Association, BIRPOA) is the group that works to help keep Birch Island a safe and healthy place. Our membership fee of $40 per year has been stable for several years now; these dues are used to pay insurance (a large and irritating expense), to provide an emergency fund for things like spraying for Gypsy moths, to pay for periodic professional cutting of the trails, to buy carts for use at the marina, gas for lawn mowers, and periodically to make contributions to Sand Lake and Birch Island events sponsored by others, such as fireworks and the canoe race. (Note that the quirks of our insurance make it difficult and costly for the association to sponsor active events on its own, which we regret.) All members of the executive are volunteers and no one is paid for our participation.

We really would like to have new folks join the association AND the executive. For lack of volunteers, we have had some members repeat roles as VP, President, and Past President. We are very happy to have Murray Smith, of #58, join and agree to be this year’s VP. Next year he will become President; we really look forward to a new face among us. We are particularly anxious to have more folks from the south side of the island join the association and the executive. We represent all islanders, but the current executive has a number of participants who are neighbors and that may make us seem a bit ‘exclusive.’ It simply isn’t so. If you are not a current member, please join, and please consider volunteering for the executive. There are many roles to play.

This year the AGM will take place 10 am Sunday August 2, at the Library. Ice cream cones will be provided!

Here’s to a great summer,

Bob Cavenagh, Association President for 2015

Noise at the Marina

The folks at the marine ask that we remember that the docks and parking lot are surrounded by their homes, and ask that we avoid making excess noise, especially in the evening and overnight.

Boating Safety

Boat wakes damage shorelines, docks and the boats tied to them, and swamp smaller craft. Please remember that the speed limit is10km/hour within 100 feet (30m) of shore. Please be on the lookout for swimmers, loons and their chicks.

Birch Island Branch Library

The Birch Island Branch Library, run on the honour system, is found along the trail at cottage #57. Your thoughtful donations of books, DVDs, complete puzzles and games are welcomed. Simply leave them on the counter with your name so that they can be reviewed, labeled and shelved. For more information contact Paola Durando at 613-328-0739,, lot #3.

Garbage Collection / Recycling

Rideau Lakes Township is implementing changes to its recycling program. Each week you can recycle either plastics and metal (YELLOW) or paper and fibres (ORANGE). Weeks alternate throughout the year… get a full calendar from the Township’s web site ).
Garbage collection begins Sunday, May 17th at the Glover Road Public Boat Ramp from 4-8pm. Collection hours change to 4-6pm September 7th and collection ends Oct 12th. If the truck is not there, please leave your bagged waste (with a tag) and recycling at the location. Full details are to be found here:

Trail Maintenance

BIRPOA, with your help, ensures the main trails are kept clear and are marked for safe use. Should heavier mowing be required, equipment is barged to the island to cut back growth. We ask that residents mow public pathways attached to their property. Ry Weisiger oversees trail maintenance. Contact him at 613-359-6279,, lot #55, if there is an issue on the trails that needs to be addressed.

Fire Safety

Permits are required for outdoor burning ($10) and are available at Gordanier's Hardware in Elgin, the Township Office in Chantry, the Portland Ultramar, Hearth and Home in Westport, Bennetts Bait and Tackle (Hwy 15/Lombardy Rd) and at the Delta Market. Follow the regulations and burn during the coolest, dampest time of day and not when it's windy. Make sure wood piles are stored 10 metres away from your cottage and that dead vegetation is cleared from around the cottage's foundation. Prune branches that overhang your roof and wires and keep gutters clean. Your chimney, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers should be in good working order. Your garden hose should be connected and buckets and shovels should be handy. Call 911 in any emergency, then call the marina.

Septic Systems

The Municipal Septic System Re-Inspection Program begins mandatory re-inspection in 2016. Go to the Township of Rideau Lakes web site and check the Development Services Department for septic tank information.

Use of Trails

There has been some concern expressed over the recreational use of motorized vehicles on Birch Island’s walking trails. Please keep in mind that the trails are maintained by BIRPOA for pedestrians. Occasionally, service vehicles (e.g., Hydro) use the trail.


We need your memberships to keep Birch Island an enjoyable and safe place for our families to escape to! Please take the time to fill out the online membership form or the paper version mailed to your home address and send it in today. Please leave a cheque in the BIRPOA ‘drop box’ at the Sand Lake Marine office OR mail your cheque to Alice Howarth OR use the PayPal option on the website.

2015 Birch Island Association (BIRPOA) Executive Members:

President: Bob Cavenagh,, cottage: 613-359-5461, cottage: lot#57
Vice President: Murray Smith,,cottage 613-719-7782, home: 613-979-4254: lot#58
Past President: Andy Shaw,, home: 613-680-2411, cottage: 613-292-2664, lot#96
Web Master: WE NEED YOU! ? Join us!
Secretary: Catherine Burnside,, cottage: 613-359-5393, lot#62
Library: Paola Durando,, cottage: 613-328-0739, lot#3
Treasurer/Membership: Alice Howarth,, 613-328-1146, lot#92
Trail Maintenance: Ry Weisiger,, cottage: 613-359-6279, lot#55
Special Projects/Rights-of-Way: John Feltmate, cottage: 613-359-5831, lot#24; Susan Cavenagh, cottage: 613-359-5461, lot#57; Jae Shaw home: 613-680-2411, cottage: 613-292-2664, lot#96