Calm misty day on Percy Lake.

2011 Spring Update


Susan Russel, Brian Edey, Benton Brown



President’s message

Nothing like Groundhog Day to start the Annual Percy Lake Newsletter!  Just as the little rascal searches for a shadow, we too are searching and looking forward to the days growing longer, the sap beginning to run, the ice leaving the lake, putting in the docks and boats, the first dip in the lake, the first walk around the property, the deafening silence of the natural world, and the familiar smells of pine.   We look for landmarks from previous years and discover new wonders everywhere.   The excitement of coming back, returning to the cottage, our home, Percy Lake, creates shivers  of excitement  and we are tickled.  As we approach the last hill of Percy, we shed the stresses of a hurried life – all is well for the moment and we breathe in deeply.

We all love Percy Lake and we all have special traditions unique to each family.  Our shared tradition centers on respecting the environment and each other.

We welcome all the new residents to the lake and say farewell to long time summer resident, Fran Conte, who died recently after recently being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.   Fran loved coming to Percy Lake, a quiet retreat from his hectic schedule as a professor of Law and administrator at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

This Newsletter will address what the board has been doing over the past year and will feature new events that will be occurring this summer.

Percy Lake Annual meeting

July 3, 2011 – 9am, FIRA Hall
*Coffee and goodies will be provided.
Speakers – Murray Fearry, Walt McKechnie PLUS Sheila Ziman, Chair, Haliburton Highland Land Trust

What is the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust?

A great question!   Their logo “Protecting Our Lands for Generations to Come” sums up their purpose.  They are particularly interested in improving the biodiversity in the county of Haliburton and will be sponsoring workshops throughout the summer months.  Sheila will be helping us with ideas about managing the land around Percy.  Check out the website –


During the summer of 2010, we had several large groups camping illegally on the lake.  Most of these campers used the spit, but some were found at other choice spots on the lake.  All of these parties were approached by members of the board and were informed that they were camping illegally and were asked to be respectful of the environment.  On one weekend, there were nine vehicles parked overnight at our boat launch, which prevented others from using the launch.   As a temporary measure, Jim Richert and I approached Murray Fearry and Paul Wilson (Greif representative) and with their approval, signs were posted at the sites and the boat launch indicating that camping and overnight parking was illegal.  Along with posting signs, fire pits were destroyed at all the campsites.  Jim and I met with Murray and Walt Mckechnie on March 16 to review the issues and determine what needed to be done.  Murray indicated that a new sign for the Public Access would be in place by the end of April, 2011.  This sign would also include no overnight parking.  Also, we discussed increasing the fine substantially to prevent overnight parking at the public access to Percy Lake.  This  legal change could take as many as three-four months.

With this by-law in place, our phone calls to the OPP with license plate numbers of illegally parked vehicles will carry significantly more weight.

The Wine Store in Minden!

Make Your Own Quality Wine at Low Low Prices at The WINE STORE
87 Bobcaygeon Rd
(705) 286-1642

The Percy Corn Roast

Mark your calendars for August 13 @ Harry and Sylvia Winder’s beach – We will provide the corn and hot dogs – you provide your drink of choice and bring a salad or dessert of your choice.

The Percy Lake First Family fishing derby

On August 13, coinciding with the corn roast,  the PLRA will be running the first family fishing derby of its kind on Percy.

The winner of this “catch and release” derby will be announced at the corn roast.   Details will follow.


submitted by Susan Russel

Everyone here in the lake is so excited about Spring coming to Percy.  The turtles are even starting to move, but not quickly, as you know.  Me and my fish buddies have been checking out the ice situation and things are still pretty cold on the surface, but there’s lot happening down below.

As I was swimming along the edge of the shore the other day checking out the ice, I happened to run into the Lake Steward – who is trying hard to find ways to not mess up the lake with lots of chemicals and such.  She had a few ideas for you folks with septic systems.  I don’t have that problem, but I know how hard humans have been working to keep Percy gorgeous. Here are a few ideas that she has tried with some success:

1. She tries to find soap that is biodegradable and has no antibacterial stuff.

2. Instead of regular toilet bowl cleaner from Home Hardware, she uses ¼ cup of Borax* and lets it sit in the bowl for about 20 min.  Then she swishes it around and down she goes.  (Not the Lake Steward I mean, but the water!)

3. For washing windows (not something she does very often) she uses a mixture of vinegar and water.  You won’t believe this, but try wiping the windows with newspaper instead of paper towels.  Seems to work!

4. In cleaning the glass on the fireplace window, she wipes the glass with a mixture of ashes and water and newspaper and then again wipes it clean with a newspaper.  It’s just amazing how well the glass shines, she says.

5. For mopping floors and regular cleaning of surfaces, try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar in a bucket of hot water.

Just these few changes might make a big difference in keeping Percy beautiful and helps me and my fish buddies too.

Most important is to be safe and have fun on the lake – and I’ll see you soon in my favourite hiding places. I hope you don’t catch me during the fishing derby!!!

*Don’t use borax around food and keep it out of reach of children and pets.  Make sure you rinse borax out of clothes and off surfaces before using.

Oh Fishily yours, TOM THE TROUT


ICE IN – DECEMBER 11, 2010/ICE OUT APRIL 28, 2011


Management of land being handed over to PLRA

As a part of the agreement with Greif and the municipality, Greif will be handing over designated pieces of land on the lake to the municipality.  These pieces consist of the spit and the portage between Percy and Haliburton Lakes along the Gull River.  Discussions with the township are occurring to best determine our role as care takers in the management and maintenance of these pieces.  Representatives from the Haliburton Land Trust will be at the AGM to provide ideas on how to care for our land and lake.

Water quality and Testing

“Oh my gosh” the Lake Steward says.  “Jack, the month is just about over and we have to test the water!”   Another month had flown by and we needed to be on the water once again to take water samples, a job that started in May and ended in October.  November was way too cold and our boats had been put away.  In concert with the Lake Partner’s Program of the Ministry of the Environment, Percy Lake has been testing for water clarity and phosphorous levels for years. Regular testing was completed from the mid 1970’s to 1995.   Testing for phosphorous levels and water clarity gives us an idea of the health of our lake and the extent of algae growth.  Increases in phosphorous will decrease water clarity by stimulating algae growth.  Lakes with phosphorous readings under 10ug/L are Oligotrophic and rarely experience nuisance algae growth.

I had originally planned on comparing phosphorous readings from 1975-92 with the 2010 readings but was informed by the ministry that current testing is far more sophisticated and accurate – the early readings are misleading and less reliable.  So instead, I have presented in the charts below water clarity readings from the earlier years and the current year.  The numbers in the water clarity boxes indicate depth.

Percy Lake Water Clarity – 1975-2010

Area ‘75-‘92 (except ‘86) 1986 2010
Whole lake – 1 reading 4.3m
North Basin 3.96m 4.25m
South Basin 3.58m 4.1m

Total Phosphorous Reading – 2010

Area TP 1 TP2
North Basin 4.4 3.8
South Basin 4.6 4.8

According to Anna Desellas, Scientist with the Ministry of Environment, Percy Lake is definitely an oligotrophic, low nutrient lake that is considered to have excellent water quality with respect to total phosphorus concentrations.

Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Association

The association has grown to 32 member lakes and is of benefit to all.  In addition to meeting regularly, the association is working on two publications, the Lake Stewards Manual and the Property Owners Manual.

The Lake Stewards Manual – This manual will be launched at the Lake Stewards meeting on May 28th. Percy Lake is an active part of the CHOPA and will be receiving a copy of this manual, which has been designed to allow our lake steward to measure, understand and address major issues on and around our lakes such as calcium levels, water clarity, fish health and many other topics.

Trent Severn Waterway and the Coalition of Equitable Water Flow

– Submitted by Brian Edey

Until this evening, I thought a report on the Trent Severn Waterway [TSW]/Coalition for Equitable Water Flow [CEWF] was going to be thinner than this Spring’s snow pack.  However, the staff at the TSW has now managed to post the lake level data for the past two weeks for Percy.  We are about a foot below where we would be ‘normally’ on April 1.  If we get significant rain in April, we are very likely to see that level rise rapidly to typical levels in May.

In mid-March, the TSW folks were reporting a very thin snow pack.  To try to avoid the complaints they faced last year [when they missed the freshet] they have been more pro-active this year.  Their strategy was to let lakes that fill quickly like Percy stay lower longer while letting the downstream lakes [and rivers, e.g. Gull] get more flow.  So, if you look on the TSW lake level site, you can see Haliburton Lake filling almost a month before the stop logs started in on Percy.

The CEWF have a voice on a non-binding citizens committee to help shape the strategy of the TSW.  The initial meeting of all the interested parties last fall chose to spend the opportunity rehashing local positions.   To expedite this process, the CEWF is issuing an open letter to all candidates in the upcoming Federal election for the Haliburton – Kawartha Lakes – Brock riding and to then publish the responses received.

TSW Lake Levels web site:

CEWF web site:

Maple Syrup on Percy Lake – What people do in the transition seasons?

There is a time for everything at Percy!  Many enjoy the summer months and there is a small but hearty group that love the winter and the opportunity to use their snowmobiles.  And then there are people like Susan and me who escape for three months but are here enjoying the shoulder seasons of Percy – The splendid colours of fall, the first snowfall of Winter and the return to cold and snow in the lead up to Spring.   This year we rushed home from the warmth to experience the hard work and magic of making maple syrup.    This was truly a joint effort  and started late last summer.  Our  Calgary daughter Jenny helped us identify and mark the maple trees to be tapped.  We started last summer with identifying 16 maple trees for tapping when we returned.  With the help of many Percy Lake former and current residents including, Ken and Wendy Loney, Richard and Carolyn Graesser, and Jim Richert, the Pinepoint Flying Pig Maple Syrup operation has taken off!   After multiple hours of work and after 4 complete days of watching the sap boil (sort of like watching the grass grow) we have close to three gallons of delicious amber coloured syrup.  Maybe next year, we will take Harry Winder’s suggestion and go to the store.  He tells us they sell maple syrup – surprise, surprise!

Geothermal: A System that Saves!

April 13, 2011
Benton Brown

Haliburton Geothermal

“Your Land – Your Energy”: a concept that’s beginning to change the heating and cooling industry dramatically. The fact that one can install their very own heat generating system in their own back yard or lake is starting to save Canadian’s a lot of money. No other method of home heating and cooling can match geothermal technology as a reliable way to not only eliminate the use of fossil fuel emissions, but also to reduce sky-high heating and cooling costs. Clean, renewable geothermal systems make use of the energy of the sun, stored in the ground, to heat and cool your home or business. This energy is limitless, easy to access, and always available. It is also totally non-polluting.

How it Works

A geothermal system uses the energy of the sun, stored in the earth, to keep you in comfort all year round. Even in the winter, when a blanket of snow covers the ground, the earth’s temperature remains approximately 10°C (50°F) at only six feet below the surface. In order to bring that heat into your home, a series of pipes are buried in the ground or laid at the bottom of your lake. An ethanol solution is circulated

through the pipes to make them highly efficient conductors of heat. In the winter, the ethanol in the pipes absorbs the heat from the ground or lake and, now warmed up, the fluid is pumped back through the geothermal unit in the house. In the summer, the heat transfer process takes place in reverse. The fluid in the pipes leaves the house in a warm state, but after circulating underground (or underwater) the pipes are cooled as they exchange heat with the cooler earth providing the home with cool air.

Once the pipes from your lake or backyard are connected to the main geothermal unit installed in your house, your very own heating and cooling source is ready to save you money and keep you in comfort for years to come!

Note: Though the MNR is committed to reducing potential damage to lakeshore zones, a “lake-loop” geothermal install is sanctioned by the MNR due to the tremendous environmental benefits.

Cost Savings With Geothermal

Significant monthly savings are realized after “going geo”. Any home converted to a geothermal system from propane heating will cut about 70% off its yearly heating and cooling costs. If oil or electric resistance is replaced with a geothermal system, the savings are even better, at approximately 75-80%. In addition to saving on your heating and cooling bill, geothermal can also save up to 50% on your hot water as it runs pre-heated water through your tank!

Using geothermal for heating and cooling changes the way you pay for energy. Because you are taking advantage of the natural heating (or cooling) capacity of the earth, on property you own, you are

drawing upon a new resource that is essentially free.

With the consistent rise in energy cost, it’s no wonder the word “Geothermal” has got everyone talking. “Your Land – Your Energy”: a new concept that might just be right for you too.

Membership dues

Think of all the positive aspects of membership in the PLRA!   A stimulating AGM with great information and ideas and always excellent goodies and coffee; support on municipal issues, development concerns, official plans;  a corn roast and the family fishing derby.  Please fill out the attached form and submit it along with $20 to anyone of the board members or mail it to Jack Russel, your friendly editor.

PLRA Board members

The Board is composed of the following:

Jack Russel (President), Graham Warren (Treasurer), Susan Russel (Secretary/Lake Steward), and the following Members at Large: Jim Richert, Brian Edey, Jim Shepard, Lou Kiriakou, and Liz (Mills) Meacock.   

If you have concerns you wish to bring to the board, I am sure you could speak with any one of us.  Or if you would like to become a member of the board, please contact me.

Landfill (AKA Dump) hours and recycling

Please check the Dysart et al. website for recycling specifics and hours –