Gaye I. Clemson, born in Toronto, Ontario, first came to Canoe Lake as a 9-month old and has spent part of virtually every summer there since the early 1950's. Her first Canoe Lake summer was spent sitting in a bushel basket under a giant pine tree watching her parents build their family summer cabin on a newly leased ridge high above the lake. "Every nail, shingle, and piece of recycled lumber had been driven up from Toronto, carried across the lake in a small boat and then hauled up a hill following a narrow path cut through the forest," Clemson explains. She heard her first telling of the Tom Thomson mystery sitting by a campfire on the lap of one of the locals, Jimmy Stringer, whose older brothers had been around during the time of Thomson's death and has watched the story take on a life of its own ever since.
Inspired in 1996, the author became curious about the lives of fellow leaseholders who had inhabited the lake since 1905. For four years she and her children wandered about the lake exploring its shores, visiting neighhours and talking to them about their settlement history. Along with that history came a treasure trove of personal and family stories dating back to the early 1900’s. The first results from this research effort, published in 2001 were a poster size, hand-drawn map illustrating the Human History of Canoe Lake and a short story about the history of one resilient woman Gertrude Baskerville who was known across North America in the 1970’s as the Lady of Algonquin Park. She lived alone for over 35 years on the shores of Tea Lake and earned her living hooking rugs of Tom Thomson paintings and renting out cabins to visitors in the summers. The level of interest that these publications generated, encouraged Gaye to continue to her efforts in capturing on paper the stories of the lives of other women who had lived at various times on Canoe Lake. This book is the latest result of that effort. While not on Canoe Lake, Clemson can be found in Capitola, California with her twin 8-year old boys, running a small high-tech market research and strategic planning consulting firm.