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March 31, 2002
What's in a name? - Ella Lake

In the 1990's Enid and Elroy Mohns came over to visit us at Nepitt's Island. Elroy brought a feed of fresh catfish from the creek in front of Mohn's camp and told me this story of how Ella Lake was named.

The great Chicago Fire in 1871 caused Americans to put out a contract on our great stands of Eastern White Pine in the Sudbury area. Capreol was assigned to be timber berth 57. Between 1872-1914, trees cut in the not yet named Ella Lake, were floated to the mouth of the creek in second Ella.

When the time was right, they released a 10' high wall of water and sluiced the logs down to Wahnapitae Lake. From there, the logs made their way to the Wahnapitae River catching the French River to arrive at the North Channel.

Then the logs were towed in huge booms across Lake Huron to sawmills in Michigan, from where they finally made it to Chicago by rail.

Many of these logs sank to the bottom of our northern lakes. The stumps of some of these trees have been measured in excess of 4' across.

The old growth pine that they cut down would now be almost 200 years old and could exceed 150' in height.

Over our years at Ella Lake, we have taken out about 12 of these giant pine logs from the murky bottom of Ella Lake.
Each of these logs were pre-cut to 10',16' or 24' and had a stamp on every end.

The stamp is three bells together in a triangle, which we found out later was the stamp of the three Bell Brothers Lumber Company of Quebec. The Bell Brothers was one of the companies that had the cutting rights to timber berth 57 in Capreol.

When the Bell Brothers arrived at our lake for the first time in October, the lake was in full autumn colors.

Surrounded by "yellow" birch with towering lofty pines adoring the hillside, one of the Bell Brothers said that this is a beautiful "yella" lake, hence the name Ella Lake. (By the way, Elroy's mother's name was Ella.)

Alex Nepitt.