The crisp air of the winter morning hit me as I opened my room door in anticipation of a great day of ice fishing. Snowmobiles purred, high octane fumes filled the air, and there was laughter and excitement from families preparing for a day on the trails. Through the lodge window into the dining hall, I saw Doug and Margaret Adams preparing for a busy day ahead. This couldn’t have been a better start to a perfect Saturday morning in the beautiful town of Temagami at Northland Paradise Lodge.
I was lucky enough to be a guest at the lodge and I was treated to a full weekend, guided by the owner Doug Adams.
Upon arrival, the lodge was buzzing with excitement. A hockey team was staying at the lodge for a local tournament. A father and son team was taking a break for the night—they were on a roundtrip snowmobile ride from North Bay. It was a diverse group with two other families (4 adults and 2 children) from the Parry Sound area. Everyone had one thing on their minds—to enjoy the outdoors and the hospitality of Northland Paradise Lodge. Tim has been returning to Northland Paradise for the past 10 years. He even shared stories of Doug teaching him how to fillet fish—a technique he still uses to this day.
The first evening everyone got to know each other and shared many stories over dinner, drinks and desserts. I spent the majority of my evening getting to know the owners and was absolutely fascinated and maybe somewhat jealous by their story.
Doug and Margaret have been the owners of Northland Paradise Lodge for over 30 years and can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by. Windsor was their home for many years and Doug made a living as a truck driver; he had many routes across the province and fell in love with the beauty of Temagami and what it had to offer. He had been feeling the need for a change and, one day, while reading an Ontario Out of Doors magazine, he noticed a listing for a lodge in Temagami with mainland access and the rest is history. Northland Paradise Lodge was to be their new home—Margaret and Doug quickly settled into their new surroundings and never looked back.
After many years of running trap lines (he’d been doing that since he was 11 years old), getting licensed and running a successful taxidermy business, countless renovations and upkeep to the beautiful Northland Paradise lodge, Doug quickly became known to the locals as one of the go-to guys for just about anything in the Temagami and Marten River area. I can see why—from his easy going, down to earth personality along with strong and loving support from his wife Margaret who, in reality, keeps both that place in order and all the guests satisfied with her to-die-for cooking and recipes!
It’s easy to pass hours sitting and speaking to Doug and Margaret and never get bored or hear the same story twice—at no point did I feel like just another guest passing through!
Saturday morning brought life back into the lodge as all the guests woke for a breakfast that included all the fixings—yogurt, cereal, eggs, bacon, toast, and some sweets. Snowmobiles filled the surroundings with their engines and fumes to let everyone know that the day’s adventures were about to begin.
Doug and I headed to out the ice huts located 500ft from the lodge doors. We enticed a couple whitefish to bite, had locals stop by to purchase minnows, and Doug’s helpful reputation held true. Once the unexpected guests left, he laughed and said, “after all these years, something new happens every day,” then put the $5.00 in his pocket and got back to fishing. We were content with our catch and headed in for a fresh fish fry of our morning’s harvest. The fish fry, as all are, was absolutely delicious—nothing beats a fresh meal that you harvested yourself. I find it tastes better every time!
Throughout the day, either fishing or over our meals, we had many discussions about the local community of Temagami. Doug has been involved in implementing and advocating for countless amazing tourism opportunities and wilderness protection stands in the Temagami area. These include the Nastawgan non-motorized nature hiking trails, fire tower lookout, and wild game dinner events. He helped stop old growth forest logging, and spearheaded the sewage lagoon restoration program. He was involved in bringing tournament bass fishing to Northern Ontario through the North Eastern Ontario Bass Association (NEOBA).
As our day progressed we made a plan to go look and photograph the spectacular old growth forests of Temagami. We packed our snowmobiles, snowshoes, cameras, and tools in expectation of breaking trail. Little did we know that the wind storms in December had done a number on the White Bear forest. When we arrived at the untouched trails, we met up with an 18” diameter pine blocking the trail. Out came the chain saw and some brute strength and we were on our way again. Three trees later and a half kilometre into the bush, we decided to strap on our snowshoes and walk the rest of the way into the old growth forest. The size and diameter of the old growth trees was breathtaking—it was an absolutely beautiful area which highlighted nature’s true beauty!
As we made our way back to the lodge we made a stop at Doug’s ice huts in anticipation of the evening bite. This particular evening his tested and true tip-ups were the go-to set up for the whitefish bite. I threw pretty much everything but the kitchen sink down the hole and it shows that 30 years of fishing the Temagami area has its advantages over fancy electronics and all the newest gear and lures—when you know what works, why change it! Doug and I shared many stories while fishing in the candlelit hut and a great day was had. I even went home short a few bucks from our friendly wagers throughout the day; he made sure to fill the other guests in on this as well!
A warm shower and fresh clothing awaited me at my room which, in my mind, was well deserved from a long day in the outdoors. There is something to be said about having hot running water at your disposal at the end of a long winter’s day.
As I looked out from my room, I saw life and laughter filling the dining area awaiting everyone’s arrival for that evening’s supper. Chili and homemade bread were on the menu and no one left hungry or with any complaints. All the guests shared stories of their adventures throughout the day and there wasn’t an unhappy member of the group.
The hospitality of Doug and Margaret is evident as everyone truly enjoys staying to talk and get to know each other in the dinner commons each night. Drinks, stories, and laughs were shared and, before anyone knew it, it was midnight! That was more than enough for the day as all the fresh air had everyone nearing exhaustion or, as I like to put it, suffering from fresh air poisoning.
Morning came quick for the group and everyone was pretty sluggish—a few guests opted out of breakfast that morning, staying in their warm beds for some well-deserved relaxation. The rest of us enjoyed another delicious hot breakfast and coffee to start our day. All of the guests enjoyed activities close to the lodge that morning which included ice fishing, snowshoeing, and tobogganing down the boat ramp onto the lake. It was a slow morning on the lake as everyone enjoyed their time together and we were even graced with a bald eagle flying overhead.
The morning flew by and we were all beginning to pack up our gear, dreading the trip home and the thought of getting back to our 9-5 routines. Sleds were loaded, clothing and gear were packed, and fond farewells were had by all, along with talks of quick returns to visit Doug and Margaret at Northland Paradise lodge with more family and friends.
Northland Paradise Lodge isn’t your normal lodge in regard to your standard features and accommodations such as lodging, meals, snowmobile trail access, ice huts, fishing and hunting opportunities. There are also unique offerings such as old growth forest photography tours, hiking and snowshoe trails, wild flower and mushroom tours, and what intrigued me the most was a tour of Doug’s traplines. This is far from a one dimensional lodge and if you want to add new, exciting and knowledgeable experience to your outdoors repertoire, Doug Adams is your go-to guide!
I know, just like the other guests know, that the Adams’ door is always open with a welcoming smile and a passion for the outdoors. I can’t wait for my next visit at Northland Paradise to take part in a trap line tour followed by a summer adventure heading out on a portage trip set up with guidance from Doug’s 30 years of experience in the area.