Surprise Lake

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Surprise Lake

Surprise Lake is a Canadian shield lake located at 48.619474, -89.334319, in Lappe, Ontario, 17 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.

Approximately 50 camps divide up the waterfront property on the southern portion of the lake, and about 20 are on the northern portion. The two portions are joined by a small culvert that is traversible only by very small boats like kayaks.

Political geography

Surprise Lake, within the community of Lappe, shown as embedded within Gorham Geographic Township, 1955

Surprise Lake is considered within the loosely-defined community of Lappe, which as well as being a convenient name to refer to the collection of a few hundred homes in the area around the Lappe Store, is under Ontario law considered a unincorporated designated place.

A designated place (DPL) is a type of community or populated area identified by Statistics Canada for statistical purposes.

Lappe is actually the largest unincorporated designated place in Ontario, since by coincidence it happens to be the largest such community that has not crossed the threshold to becoming incorporated (i.e. with its own local government).

In Lappe, the only four buildings that are not simply private residences are:

  1. Lappe Lutheran Church (founded 1917), led by Reverend Neil Otke as of 2020
  2. Gorham and Ware Community School, led by Principal Michael Oades as of 2020, formerly by his wife Elaine Oades, now principal of C.D. Howe School as of 2020, and formerly Lana Deacon [1].
  3. Lappe Variety Store, owned by ???
  4. Lappe Nordic Ski Club (established 1979)

The first two of these buildings are at the intersection of Kam Current Road and Dog Lake Road, and the others are one street away.

Lappe, in red, is within the Gorham Geographic Township

Other associations

East Gorham Community Board

Golden Girls of Surprise Lake

Karen Wilson, School Board Trustee

President of the Gorham & Ware Home & School Association, and parent and community member of the Gorham & Ware School Council.

Lappe and Area Community Service Board

Lappe Fire Rescue, 2018

The Government of Ontario somehow designates and/or funds? "local services boards" to service unincorporated communities like Lappe which provides fire, recreation, and other services. Lappe's board, the Lappe and Area Community Service Board, is governed by five directors as of 2020, chaired by Donald J. "Don" Boyce. Don Boyce is the founder of Boyce Telecom, a distributor/dealer of NEC Telecommunications equipment. [2] [3] It appears the budget is approximately $120 per household; given the population of the area served by the "Lappe and Area" community service board is about 1,600 this translates to a budget of about $60,000 CAD per year. According to its Facebook page, the board provides "Fire Services, Recreation, Library Services and use of a Transfer & Recycling Facility in Lappe and Area in Gorham, Ontario, Canada." and was founded in October 1982.

Currie Camps

Surprise Lake has been the site of two generations of Currie "camp" sites.

"Camp" is a Thunder Bay slang term for cottage, or small summer home usually by a lake.

First Camp

Jack Currie and Lucy Currie moved to Surprise Lake in the early 1970s, moving from Waverley Park Towers, 405 Waverley Street. They made this first camp their year-round home. Jack's obituary noted that "during the 1980s they lived at Surprise Lake and were a central part of the social life there."

In the early 1990s, when Jack's increasing age made it difficult to maintain the property, they moved to Academy Towers in Thunder Bay, and sold the camp to their youngest son Ron Currie. Ron and his family maintained it as a summer home until selling it in 2006 (see below).

This camp was the site of many family reunions, including Jack and Lucy's 50th Anniversary celebration in June 1989, and Ruth Newman's family reunion in summer ~1991, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2003. Dan Griffiths visited in summer 1992.

Second Camp

In 2006, Ron Currie and his wife Mary Ann Currie sold the first camp and purchased a larger camp, 200 metres south of the first camp. It has been the site of further family reunions, including in 2006 and 2010. It was the site of Carolyn Trottier's wedding reception in July 2016.

The Curries' second Surprise Lake camp, circa 2010.


CBC News, 14 August 2014. Camp Losing out to Cottage as Southerners Head North