Our Mission

At Bark Lake, our mission is to develop and deliver challenge focused programming in our unique setting to inspire national and international leaders in our constantly changing world.

Our Past

Our doors first opened in 1948 as the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre (Bark Lake). The camp ran in July and August as a training centre for young men. In 1952 Bark Lake became a coed facility. July was girls’ camp and August was for the boys. The primary focus of the camp was to train young people to become camp consellor and leaders. The Ontario Camp Leadership Centre continued to train young people until 1993.

Our Present

Today Bark Lake Leadership and Conference Centre operates as a year round leadership and outdoor education facility. Each year we welcome thousands of students from across Ontario and around the world. Students and teachers participate in a wide range of camp and leadership activities including campfires, canoeing, and challenge courses. During the summer months we switch gears. Working with Columbia International College we host approximately a thousand students from more than twenty different countries. These international guests experience the Canadian wilderness in all its glory.

Our Future

What does the future hold for the Bark Lake Leadership and Conference Centre? YOU! We are driven by the desire to immerse you in the tradition of Bark Lake.  Experience the success of finding yourself and all that you never knew you could be.

Bark Lake Leadership Centre 1958
Bark Lake Leadership and Conference Centre Aerial View

Bark Lodge

The creation of a Bark Lake Icon

Bark Lodge: The Creation of a Bark Lake Icon

Of the fifty-five or so buildings around site, only one carries the name “Bark”.

Before becoming the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre in 1948, the southern shore of the lake was used as a hunting and fishing camp. The first noteworthy structure was Bark Lodge.

An Opportunity for Growth and Renewal

From the late-1990s until the mid-2010s Bark Lodge was under-used and allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.

In Spring of 2016 it was decided to make an investment in the renewal of Bark Lodge. Plans are currently in the works to renovate and expand upon the front porch, repair the foundation, and ultimately convert the space into a licensed meeting space for adult and corporate groups.

Already significant progress has been made. First, the floorboards have been removed and new ones will be arriving shortly. Next, the roof has come down and a new non-leaking is on its way. The foundation has been dug up in preparation for the necessary repairs. In short: big things are happening!

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Bark Lodge During the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre

Early in Bark Lake’s time as a leadership centre, Bark Lodge was used as a dining hall for the camp. With the construction of the Balsam Centre in the 1970s, Bark Lodge became a space used for recreation and programming. Former employees David Spencer and Gordon Baker remember how the lodge was used:

“When I was on staff in 1981, 1982 and 1987, Bark Lodge was used for group meetings, singsongs and a mellow indoor campfire space. When we hosted conferences, Spring ORCKA and September groups like COEO Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario often requested the indoor space and porch for discussions and presentations.” ~ David Spencer

“Bark Lodge was a busy building in those days, primarily used a a meeting place for indoor group sessions, and for rainy day activities for small group sessions. If it was free, program staff would sometimes use it for planning meetings. In the skills and leadership camps camps, the campers were split up into groups of 30 or so for program purposes. Each group would have a meeting place for certain sessions, and Bark Lodge was one of the meeting spots (highly coveted by staff, due to the cool ambience and history). There were also a few special events over the years, they generally took place in Bark Lodge, unless it was a really big group, then the recreation hall was used.” ~Gordon Baker


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