Wilderness Discovery Hadi-Capable Centre, History

In 1951, this parcel of waterfront land was deeded by the Carson and Cross families to the YM-YWCA to be used as a summer camp for youth. ln the intervening years, the Ministry of Government Services became the owner of the property. ln the early 80's, the Handicapped Action Group Inc. (HAGI) had a dream of expanding this camp into a facility that would allow disabled persons and their families to enjoy what many of us take for granted - life at the lake, swimming, fishing, boat rides and campfires. On August 1, 1983, HAGI entered into a 20-year Lease with Her Majesty the Queen (HMQ), as represented by the Minister of Government Services, to lease the land to develop the current HAGI camp. The camp was constructed with labour donated by volunteer citizens and local service clubs - Rotary, Kinsmen, Kiwanis and Lions, and many volunteers that remained active over the years with yearly "work parties" assisting with repairs, roofing, construction of decks, walkways and docks, including the construction of the "freeway" through the forest from the upper levels of the property to the beach and a dock which enables anyone, even those in wheelchairs and walkers and on crutches, to make their way from the cabins to the water and the boats. The Lease was amended in 1993/94, expired in 2013 and was continued with yearly extensions until the fall of 2015.

Over the years many groups and private individuals have utilized the facility, including HAGI, Autism Ontario, Community Living Thunder Bay and various senior facilities in Thunder Bay. In April 2015, HAGI announced that they would be forced to stop operating the facility unless there was a significant change in the financial picture with respect to the facility. ln July 2015, a few interested individuals, including Bob Hookham of the Fort William Rotary & Jeff Jones of the Hill City Kinsmen met with Minister Bill Mauro, whose riding includes this property, to discuss the possibility of assisting HAGI to maintain the operation of this facility at Lake Shebandowan. The Rotary and Hill City Kinsmen devised a plan to continue with the mission of the Wilderness Discovery Resort whereby they would create a Not-For-Profit Corporation to provide funding, management and operational support with the vision of broadening the end user groups and expand the operating season. Over the next year and a half this group lobbied with the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Infrastructure with a request for their support to continue the lease or to purchase the property. These negotiations culminated in a Press Release on Friday, February 10, 2017, where Minister Bill Mauro announced a deal in principle with this new management group.

Wilderness Discovery Handi-Capable Centre was formed as a Non-Profit Corporation on April 7, 2017 with representatives on its Board of Directors from the Thunder Bay Rotary Clubs, Hill City Kinsmen, HAGI and the Shebandowan Lake Campers Association who will act as a management board to re-organize and refurbish the facility. The main use of the facility will remain for physically disabled individuals and veterans and their families, but the expectation is that the facility will expand its use to include other Non-Profit groups, as well as utilize the facility for corporate retreats, family reunions, and gatherings. The Corporation’s negotiations with the Ministry throughout the spring and early summer of 2017 resulted in a signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale in July 2017, with a Closing Date of August 11, 2017.

  • 1951 - Land deeded by the Carson and Cross families to the YM-YWCA to be used as a summer camp for youth
  • Early 1980's - Handicapped Action Group Inc. (HAGI) had a dream of expanding this camp into a facility that would allow disabled persons and their families to enjoy life at the lake
  • August 1, 1983 - HAGI entered into a 20-year Lease to lease the land to develop the current HAGI camp
  • 1993/94 - Lease amended, expired in 2013 and continued with yearly extensions until the fall of 2015
  • April 2015 - HAGI announced that they would be forced to stop operating the facility unless there was a significant change in the financial picture with respect to the facility
  • July 2015 – Many interested individuals and the Friends of Wilderness Discovery meet to examine options to keep the facility operational o A few interested individuals, including Bob Hookham of the Fort William Rotary & Jeff Jones of the Hill City Kinsmen met with Minister Bill Mauro, to discuss the possibility of assisting HAGI to maintain the operation of this facility at Lake Shebandowan.
    • Thunder Bay Rotary Clubs and Hill City Kinsmen devise a plan to continue with the mission of the Wilderness Discovery Resort with the creation of a Not-For-Profit Corporation to provide funding, management and operational support o Over the next year and a half this group lobbied with the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Infrastructure with a request for their support to continue the lease or to purchase the property
  • February 10, 2017 - Negotiations culminated in a Press Release where Minister Bill Mauro announced a deal in principle with this new management group
  • April 7, 2017 - Wilderness Discovery Handi-Capable Centre received its Letters Patent as a Non-Profit Corporation with representatives on its Board of Directors from the Thunder Bay Rotary Clubs, Hill City Kinsmen, HAGI, Westfort Kiwanis and the Shebandowan Lake Campers Association
  • July 2017 – The Corporation and the Ministries signed an Agreement of Purchase and Sale for the Lake Shebandowan Property
  • August 11, 2017 - Wilderness Discovery Handi-Capable Centre took possession of the Lake Shebandowan facility that was previosly operated by HAGI. AND THEN THE REAL WORK BEGAN!!!!
    From August until the end of October, numerous volunteers attended at the Centre to begin the work of creating our vision of a fully updated retrofitted facility for all individuals of all abilities.