Submitted by Devonna Edwards
Many will remember hiking back to either of these lakes for a swim on a hot summer day. Years ago, before the Bi-Highway was built in 1958, we would head up to the top of Main Avenue (Geizer’s Hill) and follow a path back to the lakes but with the highway there now some people may find it difficult to find.
I will give directions to both lakes, for some people who have not been there for years or still others who have never been. There are other lakes back in this paradise, so close to the big city, but these two are the most popular. We have a couple of choices on how to proceed to Susie’s Lake
One choice to get to Susie’s Lake is to take the path behind Kent’s Building Supplies, in the Bayers Lakes Business Park, that path would take you directly to Susie’s Lake shore probably in about 15 minutes or less.
The second choice is my favorite way to go because it has excess to both Susie’s Lake and Quarry Lake. The second way to Susie’s Lake is be to take the Old Nun’s Road, to get there take the Bi-Highway (102) coming towards the city; until just before exit 2 to the Bayers Lake Business Park, turn right before the exit (a sign will say Halifax 6) there is a guard rail there and at the end of rail, you will see a rough spot, where maybe one or two cars can park off the road, there is no parking beside the highway Facing the woods turn to the right, go down over the hill to a rough path known years ago as the Old Nun’s Road, named as such because the Sisters from Mount St. Vincent would go back to Susie’s Lake for a swim; travelling by horse and buggy along this road. It was also said that the Mount originally got their water supply from Susie’s Lake, (at one time Mount St. Vincent owned property extending from the Bedford Basin to Bayer’s Lake Business Park.) Continue down the Old Nun’s Road and at the end of the road, the spectacular sight of Susie’s Lake comes into view. The scenery is breathtaking and well worth the hike which is only about 20 minutes.
Before arriving at Susie’s Lake you will see a very deep rock quarry to the right of the Old Nuns Road, the still working rock quarry is so deep you could fit “The Empire State Building “in it, (maybe exaggerating a little.)
If you would like to go to Quarry Lake, turn right at the rock quarry and continue down the path beside the rock quarry, until near the end of the quarry, a left turn will take you down a corduroy road to Quarry Lake.
Susie’s Lake Camp:
A cabin known as Susie’s Lake Camp was built by three residents of Fairview, Bill Faulkner, Chester Smith, and Elmer Hughes at Susie’s Lake. The cabin became a community camp where people visited, stayed for a meal or slept overnight. Many people would go hiking there to swim, hunt, fish, canoe and pick berries or bird watch.
There was Registry Book in the Susie’s Lake cabin and anyone who visited the camp had to sign in. There was, at one time, three Registry Books, each marked with different years. I was lucky to obtain a book from Robert Bradley, he lent me his book to read and copy. The Registry Book (Log Book) was dated from 1941-1943 (the Second War World years.) Listed in the book are some military men from places such as Scotland, California and Ireland who were stationed in Halifax at that time and probably had friends from here, take them back in the woods to this special place.
The Log Book gives details about the activity in this remote area during that time. People even hiked there on holidays such as Christmas Day and Easter. Some messages in the book went from quick scribbles, to more detailed descriptions of their adventures in the wild, and still other messages were given in Morse Code, (fun to decode.) Ralph Faulkner, who lived in Fairview, drew cartoons in the Log Book to tell about his activity back at the camp. He joined the army during the Second World War and was killed ten weeks before the war ended.
A hermit by the name of Percy MacLean lived in the cabin at Susie’s Lake. Winnie (Faulkner) Garagan, who lived in Fairview for many years, told me that he was a well-educated man who visited her mother and brought her blueberries, and rabbits. She said years later because of his advanced years, government officials made him move to a nursing home where he died soon after. Winner said, she along with relatives, visited the camp on numerous occasions and that anyone that came to the cabin had to bring food with them to donate to the community meal.
John Hurst was also a Fairview resident who went back to Susie’s Camp frequently. He described Percy MacLean as being a well-read man from Yarmouth and is now buried there. John said that Percy had a great knowledge of ships and he didn’t know how Percy knew what he did. Percy had his own bed but there was room for five or six people to sleep, at the camp, in a common bed. Percy cooked for everyone in the camp.
Some people he remembered going back to the cabin were Morton Kelly, Reg Parsons, Gordon Kelly, Roy Hodder, Ralph Faulkner, Don Poole, and Kenneth Coakley.
John remembers there being a Crystal Radio set at the cabin which people would listen to, (a Crystal Radio Set was a very simple radio receiver popular in the early days of radio.) He said the radio needed no other power source but received solely from the power of radio waves received by a wire antenna. They used oil lamps for light in the cabin at night. When John went back to the camp he brought newspapers or magazines for Percy to read. He recalls it was rough going back there in earlier years, describing the path as winding with many holes and rocks. He said one guy broke his leg while hiking there.
There was a big rock at Susie’s Lake which they called Saddle Rock (must have looked like a saddle). Cranberry Lake was located above Susie’s Lake and a stream ran into Susie’s.
Robert Bradley said that Percy would come out of the woods once a month to collect his old age pension. He could find his way back to the cabin walking from the bottom of Main Avenue, without light at 3 A.M. Robert said they also had a Pump House at Susie’s Lake. They use to pump water down from a pipe line to Mount St. Vincent so the Nuns could do their laundry.
The cabin at Susie’s Lake is no longer there and the exact site cannot be found.
There were other camps back at Susie’s Lake such as the Robinson Camp (they lived on School Avenue), as well as two other camps on islands at Susie’s, one was owned by a Mr. Smarr, who owned a repair shoe shop and the other was owned by a Mr. Cook.
Susie’s Lake was named after Susie Donaldson whose family owned Birch Cove and Quarry Lake at one time.
Quarry Lake located next to Susie’s Lake and situated near a rock quarry, was also a favorite Swimming place. Many people remember jumping into the cool, clear water from the giant rock at Quarry Lake or just sitting on the rock listening to the wild-life. There is a dam near Quarry Lake called the Quarry Dam. It was built around 1910-15 to elevate the water and to propel the water to Moirs Mill (a chocolate factory) and other mills in Bedford.
The dam became very old and became unsafe so in 2005, HRM rebuilt the dam to meet with modern day standards.