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Percy Boyce, who in 1939, was principal of Schumacher Public School, decided to take a group of boys out for a summer camping trip. He arranged with Charlie Kanerva, who was the janitor at the school to use his cottage lot on Barber’s Bay. Unfortunately, the entire time that the boys were camping, it rained heavily. Not having proper accommodation, and only sleeping under tarps, it was a somewhat miserable outing.


Upon hearing of the boy’s plight, R J Innis, who was local manager of McIntyre-Porcupine Mines, visited the Kanerva property and remarked that the boys should be housed in more ‘acceptable’ conditions.


With the agreement of J P Bickell, who at that time was President of McIntyre-Porcupine Mines, he suggested that two machine shop buildings that were about to be replaced at the mine, could be relocated for the youngsters.


Upon hearing that, Charlie Kanerva was adamant that he did not want them on his cottage lot. So, Nate Adams, who was underground superintendent at McIntyre, was assigned the task of finding a proper campsite location.


Mr Adams was able to lease a 240-acre farm belonging to the Caron family on Chapman Lake between Schumacher and Iroquois Falls. The mine relocated the two machine shop buildings, one that became the kitchen/dining hall and the other the community centre. With the consent of Jack Bickell, five children’s sleeping cabins and an ice house were also built. The year was 1940 and the Camp Bickell format had it’s humble beginnings. It was decided by the board of the day, to name the camp after Mr Bickell for his continuous support.


In the following years, an infirmary and two more children’s cabins were added. In 1949, when the lease with the Caron Family came up, they did not want to renew it and preferred an outright purchase. At that time, J P Bickell donated $5,000 to purchase the property outright.

The camp remained that way until 2000, when the Board of Directors embarked on a massive expansion/renovation project resulting in the Camp Bickell/J P Bickell Outdoor Centre of today.


In 1950, Camp Bickell was officially incorporated as a non-profit, non-denominational children’s charity – a status it still holds today. If the facility ceases to exist in its current form, it is to be sold and proceeds turned over to other children’s charities, as decided by the board of the day.

John Paris Bickell 


Born at Molesworth, Ontario, September 26, 1884, John Paris Bickell demonstrated an early aptitude for business. Although his initial employment was a clerk, his sights were set on greater achievements, which he pursued with dedication and discipline. 
An astute businessman, Mr Bickell was appointed director of numerous Canadian corporations including CIBC, INCO, National Trust and Maple Leaf Gardens. He was also the founder of the Toronto Art Gallery, a board member of Wellesley Hospital and the first president of Maple Leaf Gardens.


John P. Bickell, Centre with Gold Bars.

While most followed but one path, Mr Bickell engaged in several successful careers. When he was 23, he opened his own brokerage firm. By 30 he was a millionaire. In 1919, he left the investment business to become president, and subsequently, chairman of the board of McIntyre-Porcupine Mines Ltd., one of Ontario’s earliest producers of gold and one of Canada’s greatest assets.


It was in his position with McIntyre-Porcupine Mines Ltd., that Mr Bickell provided the princely sum of $5,000, at that time, to purchase the property, on Chapman Lake, where the facility has been located since 1940.


Upon his death in 1951, Mr Bickell set up the J P Bickell Foundation that continues to support the facility that bears his name. Through his continued generosity, the nowly named Camp Bickell/ J P Bickell Outdoor Centre has grown to become the finest, of its’ type, in Northeastern Ontario.


Since his initial gift of $5,000, the J P Bickell Foundation has donated in excess of $1,000,000 over the years towards the expansion and improvements of Camp Bickell/J J Bickell Outdoor Centre.

His Deeds Will Not Pass Away nor His Name Wither.

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