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Desert Lake is part of the Cataraqui River Watershed, which flows into Lake Ontario in Kingston, Ontario. Before European settlers arrived, First Nations people (mostly Algonquin) lived on the land in South Frontenac. Over the ages, the area surrounding Desert Lake has seen trading, logging, mining, retail and service trades as part of the economy.

Historical Resources Include:


Courtesy of Mary Clark

In 1922, William and Emma Pierce (grandparents of Mary Clark and Bill Pierce) came from East Aurora, N. Y. to fish at Desert Lake. They stayed at the fishing camp owned by Edmund and Edna Page. It was located at the south end of the lake (across the road from present day Lazy Acre).

The second floor of the fishing camp was sectioned into bedrooms by hanging sheets between the beds. In the morning Edna cooked a massive breakfast for all the guests. Each fishing group was supplied with a guide who rowed the boat, and with enough pans, bread and vegetables for a shore dinner at noon, augmented by the catch of the day. At suppertime, they all returned to the Pages for a large dinner prepared by Edna.

During that time the Pierces’ favourite shore dinner site was the point on which they built their cabin in 1925. It was the first cottage on Desert Lake built for the purpose of fishing.

Desert Lake
Looking from the Page’s Fishing Camp (at the south end of the lake) toward present day Desert Lake Family Resort.
Preparing for the day’s fishing.
Daily catch – before licenses and limits.
The feldspar mine at the north end of the lake. (Chris and Judith Christensen’s present home).
The bridge at the south end of Desert Lake.
The Pierce cabin, built in 1925, consisted of 3 rooms and a loft. Christened WILL-EM-ED, it was named for William, his wife Emma, and their son, Edison (Mary Clark and Bill Pierce’s father).
Looking across the bay to where Art Mitchell would build the second Snug Harbour.
Because the water level in Desert Lake is controlled, these rocks off the point of the Pierce cottage are now under water.
The septic crew.
In 1948, Edison brought a team of carpenters, plumbers and electricians from East Aurora. From July 15-20 they built an addition to the cottage, installed a septic system, and electricity. The crew worked all morning, fished in the afternoon and had all the beer they could drink.
The first septic tank.
In 1948, four bedrooms and a bathroom were added to the cottage.
Mary and Bill have been coming to Desert Lake for as long as they can remember. Here they are with their mother, Dorothy.



  • The History of Richardson Mine. Click here to read the story. 
  • The Old Log Cabin from 1840. Click here to read the story.
  • A partial history of Desert Lake water quality over the past ~ 200 years based on a lake sediment core and preserved diatom algae. Click here to read the report.