The stubinsky family
We are one of the oldest families remaining after Ontario Hydro expropriated the lands around the town of Black Donald and along the shores of the Madawaska River to create one of the largest hydro reservoirs in Canada.
The entire town of Black Donald was demolished, the houses, general store, dancehall, school, the refinery and all the buildings. In the fall of Canada’s Centennial Year (1967) the dam was completed, and the waters rose 85 feet in a matter of days. The town of Black Donald and our land along the Madawaska River were now underwater.
It took several years of negotiating with Ontario Hydro to agree on fair compensation for the land we had lost. Eventually, we accepted 105 acres of forested land with 5,600 feet of waterfront which is where the campground stands today. The campground is just above the waterline from where the town and mines of Black Donald once stood. In fact, our boat launch is part of the original Black Donald-Calabogie Road, built in 1901. If you could still follow that road from our docks for another 500 meters you would arrive where the graphite refinery once stood.
Here is a short story, and some old family photos, that we would like to share with you to describe how the Black Donald Tent & Trailer Park came to be. We hope you enjoy it!
♥ Ann, John, Janice, Hunter, Lilly, Abby & Beth
john STUBINSKY (1882-1961)
John (Jack) Stubinsky (1882-1961) married Anna Hisko, a young woman of Czechoslovakian descent. In 1910 they moved into a company house after Jack took on work operating the powerhouse for The Black Donald Graphite Company. The home was located on the Madawaska River where the Mountain Chute Hydro Dam is today. The dam generated electricity to run all of the mining operations and also delivered free hydro to all the miner’s homes and buildings in the village.
Together John and Anna raised nine children. Albert, Mark, Evelyn, Mary, Agnes, Frank, Beatrice, Katy, and Georgina. The family kept chickens, pigs and cows to supplement their income and during the winter months John trapped beavers, wolves, fishers, and otters.
Albert Stubinsky (1904-1986)
In 1923, John’s oldest son Albert married Mary Leclaire, the daughter of a neighbour who lived near the old Black Donald Creek Settlement. Together Albert & Mary had four children. Ruth, Albert Jr. (Bert), Mervyn, and Jim. From a young age, Albert helped his father operate the powerstation and eventually took over from him when Jack retired.
Mark & Mervyn Stubinsky
In about 1948, Mark Stubinsky (1920 – 1990) and his nephew Mervyn (1933 – 2017), purchased land along the Madawaska River just downstream from the powerhouse where they had grown up. There they built a guest lodge and some cabins for a hunting & fishing guide business they had started up to meet the demand of an increasing number of visitors from the city and from American tourists.
M&M stubinsky mountain chute cabins
Mark & Mervyn’s successfully ran their business from about 1948 until 1966, when their land was expropriated by Ontario Hydro to make way for the construction of a large dam that would create a 5,500 acre, 27-mile long lake, the second largest reservoir lake in Canada.
displaced by the construction of the mountain chute dam
In November of 1950, the Black Donald Graphite Company closed its underground mining operations. Just eleven days after work in the mine ceased there was a massive cave-in that flooded the mine. Luckily, there was not a single fatality that fateful day. Surface mining and tailing recovery continued for a few more years and the operation shut down entirely in 1954.
Ontario Hydro had long been awaiting the mine’s closure. Since 1947 they had plans to dam the Madawaska River at Mountain Chute to create a headpond for a 139,500-kilowatt power station. By the early 1960’s work to clear the land to the new high water mark began.
The plans called for the construction of a 150-foot head that would submerge 5,500 acres of land – including Mark & Mervyn’s house, lodge, and cabins. The new dam was to be built at the location where John & Anna Stubinsky had lived and raised their family.
floating the house down the river
Settling on fair compensation for their submerged property was a process that took 3 years. In the meantime, Mark & Mervyn needed a place to live so they built a house further below the dam on the Madawaska on leased land.
In the end, they settled on the site of our current campground. With the land deal settled, Mark & Mervyn decided to relocate their home to the new property. They considered several options, but in the end, decided that the simplest solution would be to float it down the Madawaska River. So one day in 1972 they did just that with the aid of two outboard motor boats, the house was slowly tugged down the river and moved to its present location in the park where Mervyn’s son John now takes up residence.
BLACK DONALD TENT & TRAILER PARK
In 1974 Mervyn married Ann Norton and together had two children John and Janice. In 1990, Mark Stubinsky passed away willing his shares to Mervyn’s children thus creating the partnership you see today. Our beloved Mervyn joined his Uncle Mark with the angels in December 2017. Lily, Abby, Beth and Hunter have since arrived to start the next generation at Black Donald Tent and Trailer Park.
Since opening the gates to our campground in 1970, we have developed over 80 sites while preserving the natural beauty of the land. Our family takes great pride in promoting conservation so that the future of our campground can continue in as natural a state as possible. Over the years, there have been many changes in Ontario campgrounds, some good and some not so good, but here at Black Donald Tent and Trailer Park we try to keep nature’s interest at heart.
Anytime our campers arrive we welcome them with open arms, knowing they come for the serenity and beauty we have grown to cherish and love.