Land sale shuts out family camp

Darrell Cole
Published on January 15, 2010

AMHERST - Chris Newman has many fond memories of spending time at his camp at Long Lake. All that's about to end, though, with the pending sale of the land on which his camp sits to the province by J.D. Irving Ltd. and Rothesay Paper Holdings Ltd.

"Partnering with J.D. Irving in this land deal has without a doubt been a privilege which I sincerely hope, as does my family and many friends who have heard of this misfortune, that I be granted an opportunity to buy or lease this small piece of property from the new owner," Newman said in a letter to the forestry company.

Newman said the existence of the camp has been a huge part of his life since his childhood and is something he has passed on to his family through a number of special occasions and outdoor activities.

The Warren resident said he was surprised to receive a personal notification from Irving in early December that he would be losing his family cottage because of the land sale.

He said he started going to the camp when he was 14 years old and became good friends with its owner, Jack Fitzgerald. The original camp had been there for years on land owned by Max Gray.

In the late 1980s there was a land-logging dispute between Gray and the company with the courts eventually deciding in Irving's favour. While a notice to vacate the land was issued, Newman managed to convince Irving to transfer Fitzgerald's lease to him.

"We always maintained a very high respect for the woodlands and the roads, being good stewards of the land, while maintaining our presence at Long Lake," Newman said, adding he has always been a responsible lease-holder.

Newman's nine-year-old daughter, Robyn, has sent a letter to the province asking to allow her dad to keep his camp.

"I hope you also know that my only wish for Christmas was for my dad to keep his camp. That wish didn't come true, but it still could," she said. "(I want to be known) as the daughter who kept her dad's dreams, and everyone else's, going."

Judging by what the province is saying at this point, it's not looking favourable. Gretchen Pohlkamp of Natural Resources said it's very unlikely that leaseholders will be given an opportunity to negotiate with the province or have their leases extended.

She said most of the areas being purchased could become part of a wilderness area, protected area or nature reserve.