Columbus Boys’ Camp

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The Basilian Fathers once staffed the now defunct Columbus Boy’s Camp in Orillia Ontario .  The camp became of interest to me personally when I read that the now deceased and “alleged” molester Father Leo Campbell csb, a Basilian, “ministered at the camp.”

When I discovered that the camp had been administered by the Basilian Fathers since its foundation in 1929, and given that I now know of three Canadian Basilians – Father Robert Whyte, William Hodgson Marshall and Leo Campbell – who have been publicly charged or accused I decided I should try to learn more.

My efforts to learn more about Columbus Boys’ Camp (CBC) are restricted at this time to what information I can find on the internet.  I have also received some information first hand.

The information online is sketchy and at times contradictory.  I have decided therefore to paste a series of CBC-related articles and/or bits of information with the corresponding links.

It seems that the Knights of Columbus funded and promoted the camp from its inception in 1929, but throughout those years the task of managing the camp and selecting camp counsellors and directors as well as providing spiritual direction was the domain of the Basilian Fathers.

The counsellors were high school boys who were selected from various Basilian schools in Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, Toronto and Windsor, Ontario.  I have been told that there also seemed to be an Ottawa connection to the camp but see no reference to that in any of the information I have rounded up online.  There are, however, Basilians in Ottawa, and the Basilain Fathers did once operate St. Joseph’s High School (1959-1973) and St. Basil’s Church.

It is not known what involvement, if any, Fathers Robert Whyte and William Hodgson had with the camp.  I see however that it seemed to be common practise for Basilian seminarians to help out the camp in the 40s.  That would mean there is a darn good chance that Father Robert Whyte, ordained in 1947, spent summers counselling young lads at CBC.  Father Hod Marshall was ordained in 1951  – I think there is a good chance that as a seminarian he too would have spent summers at CBC.  Whether or not either was involved with camp after ordination I don’t know, although I do know that Marshall paid at least one brief visit to the camp in the mid 80s.

Campbell was definitely with CBC post ordination (1974).  Whether or not he did “boy guidance” as a seminarian in the late 60s and early 70s I have no idea, nor do I know if it was still common practise at that time to send seminarians out to assist at the camp during the summer months. 

CBC officially closed in late 2006.   The reasons for closure are unknown but, subsequent to its closing the KOC sold a huge chunk of land which  had formerly housed the campsite.

James Loney, peace activist, former Canadian Iraqi hostage, self-identified homosexual and former camp employee, made accusations that the closure was related to discrimination against homosexuals levelled by the Ontario Knights of Columbus.  (The KOC announcement of the CBC closure came just months after Loney’s return to Canada and much attendant publicity about his homosexuality and links to CBC )

CBC was replaced by Four Winds Boys’ Camp which, commencing in early 2007,  operated at the same location.  I get the impression that many of the former counsellors and directors from CBC became involved in the operation of Four Winds.   The KOC was no longer directly involved but I saw several articles which would indicate the organization made referrals to Four Winds.

I am uncertain if the Basilians were involved with Four Winds.  I could be mistaken, but I think not. The Archdiocese of Toronto was, however, actively involved through its ShareLife funding, as was Catholic Charities of Toronto , as were other Catholic organizations and/or institutions.

Less than  two years after it opened, Four Winds Boys’ Camp was closed.  The camp was relocated to Aurora and is now known as Camp Ozanam and managed by St. Vincent de Paul. Although now under St Vincent de Paul management and in a different location the camp seems to be marketed as an extension of Four Winds and CBC.

I would appreciate any further information on Columban Boys’ Camp in Orillia, particularly as it relates to Father Leo Campbell, William Hodgson Marshall and Robert Whyte. (Note – 28 April 2016:  BLOG What a brave brave little boy!

Finally, let me be clear here that I fully understand that countless young boys spent a wonderful summer  holiday at the camp, and that without doubt it was a holdiay they could only have dreamed of.  I am, however concerned that the experience may not have been one of joy for every needy little boy who attended.


The following quotes are excerpts of information and/or articles regarding the Columbus Boys’ Camp.  They are listed as close to chronilogically as possible.  The source of the quote or article and the link to source is added at the bottom of each entry. : 


1929 – The Toronto Council of the Knights of Columbus founds Columbus Boys’ Camp in conjunction with the Basilian Fathers. Today, this is the Four Winds Boys’ Camp (supported by ShareLife funding).  

Source:  General Information:  The History of Catholic Social Services in the Archdiocese of Toronto:


St Basil’s seminary

 Mary Street, Toronto. This Seminary accommodates all theological students but is not large enough to accommodate all who are making university courses. While studying for their B.A. degree the majority of scholastics, the name given to all unordained members after the novitiate year, live at one of the Basilian Colleges. In July and August they go to a summer residence on Strawberry Island in Lake Simcoe. From this island they go in groups to the Columbus Boys’ Camp for underprivileged boys, near Orillia, where they do boy  guidance work under the supervision of the resident Basilian chaplain. At the island all scholastics make an annual retreat on the ten days preceding the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.

Source:  The Thurible, 1940


Notice in the St. Michael’s College School yearbook:

“In appreciation of the labors of the Basilian seminarians at the Columbus Boys’ Camp Orillia, Ont.  (The Columbus Boys’ Camp Committee)”

Source:  The Thurible, 1947


1958-59  Roof on dining hall collapsed and roof on chapel near collapse under weight of snow


Week-long camp sessions open to any underprivileged boy 7 to 12 years old. Operated by Knights of Columbus Toronto Council 1388. Located on Lake Simcoe. History, photos, and registration and volunteer information.

Source:  wikipedia (


 “Most of the kids were seven or eight.”



Columbus Boys’ Camp
Orillia, Ontario, Canada

Columbus Boys’ Camp has a mandate to serve the needs of young under-privileged boys who would not otherwise have the opportunity of a camp experience. The camp is located on the shores of Lake Simcoe,



Columbus Boys’ Camp was founded in 1929 by Toronto Council  # 1388 Knights of Columbus to serve the needs of underprivileged children form Toronto and the Greater Toronto area. The camp provides a wholesome vacation for young boys, aged 7-15 years to get out of the city and enjoy the outdoors with other boys in a varied and fun-filled experience for 9 days.

We are presently looking for registered nurses or NEW GRADUATES awaiting registration to work at our camp. The camp is located in Orillia, Ontario. The experience requires an enthusiastic individual who would welcome the challenge of meeting the health needs of approximately 200 boys and a staff of 80. Five, nine-day sessions. We require 2 R.N.s per session.

Source:  Knights of Columbus



The good old summertime gets a whole lot better every year when underprivileged young boys spend a holiday at the Columbus Boys Camp at Lake Simcoe, near Orillia.

And proof that this camp that dates back to 1929 is making its mark on Canadian history is the fact that so many of its campers go on to become counsellors and return to work with young boys who would otherwise never be able to enjoy such a vacation.

Sam Ferrando, Camp chairman, said that the idea for a summer camp for city kids dates back to 1929 when the Knights of Columbus Council 1388 established the Camp. Working with parish priests and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, campers were chosen according to their needs and to date no child has ever been turned away.”Today we see that about 65% of the boys come from a single parent family and often these kids are given their most nutritious food at this Camp,” he said.

Some of them are surprised that they receive three meals a day as a caterer from Huntsville brings in the food. They are also amazed at the activities such as archery, swimming, games, basketball, and a waterfront program that await them. But the camp also helps the families involved and gives the parent or parents a bit of a break as well.

Father George LaPierre, St. Basil’s Church, Toronto, has been involved with the Camp for 23 years and has been the chaplain for the past six years. He said that it is fascinating to see the changes that can take place in these young children. “Often they leave the city very upset because they don’t want to be away from the mothers. And then they have such a great time, they don’t want to leave the camp to go back home, “ he laughed. But one of the most remarkable things Father LaPierre has discovered is that many of these boys do not have a father image and actually do not understand the Lord’s Prayer.

“We try to provide positive role models for them and show them that religion is not boring,” he said, adding that he offers a program, Adventures in the Chapel and through songs and Bible stories brings them to a stronger awareness of God.

Sometimes there are problems such as children coming to camp without medication for behaviour disorders, but generally with a zero tolerance for bullying most campers are able to stay for their nine day holiday without any problems. Father LaPierre said that the camp is really filled with miracles and he usually explains to the Counsellors that they should be mindful of what great things can happen.

“For instance, one boy was so homesick last year but managed to overcome all of his negative feelings and was teamed up with a child this year who was just as homesick.  Together they were able to make the week a great success. I call that one of God’s little miracles, “ he said.

Perhaps one of the far reaching benefits of the Columbus Boys Camp is the legacy of excellent counsellors and success stories that evolve. Many ex campers go on to successful lives as teachers, social workers, and priests.

Many claim that their time spent at the Columbus Boys Camp was responsible for a turn around in their young lives. Chris Roy is a former counsellor who is now in his 15th summer of involvement with the Camp and in his second year as Camp Director, a year round position that requires a great deal of time and effort.The counsellors are all screened and safety and security are of prime importance and with recruitment through many high schools, Columbus Boys Camp does not have to go outside for any hiring. “The counsellors are living the Gospel in their work as they serve the poor,” mentioned Father LaPierre. Columbus Boys Camp is funded through the Knights of Columbus Council 1388, with further assistance from the Star Fresh Air Fund and Catholic Charities.

Father LaPierre lauds the Knights for their involvement and said they are truly remarkable in what they have established at this camp. A strong alumnae association of former campers and counsellors makes reunions spirited events and in 1999 at the 70th anniversary it was a time for fond memories and hundreds of stories that related the experiences of those days that marked seven decades of camp fun.

Father LaPierre said that for him it is a privilege to be involved with this Camp. “The

mission of the church is alive and well at Columbus Boys Camp!” he added.

Source:  Knights of Columbus Ontario State Bulletin September 2001  No. 2


1929 Columbus Boys’ Camp, Orillia, Ontario, Canada (counselling, chaplaincy, camp management) +

Source:  Basilian Occasional Paper Number 34  September 2005



Columbus Boys’ Camp
Orillia, Ontario, Canada   Phone: 705-326-2433, 416-968-0331
Columbus Boys’ Camp has a mandate to serve the needs of young under-privileged boys who would not otherwise have the opportunity of a camp experience. The camp is located on the shores of Lake Simcoe,

Source: Boys Summer Camps


Former Iraq Hostage Accuses Catholic Knights of Homosexual Discrimination

Lifesite News

Wednesday June 21, 2006

By John Jalsevac

TORONTO, Ontario, June 21, 2006 ( – James Loney, the former Canadian Iraqi hostage, has charged the Ontario Knights of Columbus with homosexual discrimination.

The Knights recently announced the closure of a youth leadership camp located in Orillia Ontario where Loney worked for several years. Loney–who revealed his homosexuality amidst the publicity furor accompanying his eventual safe return from Iraq–has accused the Knights of closing the camp because he is gay.

The factual basis for his allegation is still uncertain. News reports have been unclear and contradictory about whether or not Loney is even a current employee of the camp. A Canadian Press report calls Loney a “former employee,” although it does not state when Loney ceased working for the camp. When contacted by the Knights refused to comment on Loney’s current employment status.

“The conclusion we have drawn is that this is an act of discrimination,” Mr. Loney said, saying that he agonized before going public with the allegations. “We can’t prove this. This is a concern that we have based on the sequence of events,” added Loney, according to CBC.

The Knights responded to the allegations curtly, saying in a press release that “The decision to close the camp this year was NOT caused by James Loney’s sexual preferences as he alleges in the press. His sexual preferences were not a factor at all in the Knights of Columbus’ decision. We resent the allegation.”

On their website the Knights state the closure of the Ontario Catholic Youth Leadership Camp was previously scheduled, in order to provide time to review the mandate and effectiveness of the camp program. The camp may be re-opened next year, the statement said.

“That statement is totally out of left field,” spokesman for the Knights of Columbus Ontario State Council John Clancey told the Toronto Star. “We closed down that leadership camp because we needed to review the way we were going and the curriculum that we were teaching.”

Loney said he intends to publish an open letter to Ontario Catholics to bring to light what he called “an act of discrimination.” “We are doing this because we care about the church, we care about young people and we care about the kind of church they are coming into,” he said. In another statement of an even more ambiguous nature, Loney appeared to accuse the Knights of contributing to teen suicide by closing the camp: “We want the teenage suicide and the self-loathing of the closet to stop. We want people to be able to speak freely about who they are and what they believe without fear.”

Although Loney’s sexual preference for men is beyond question, his purported Catholicism is less apparent, leaving Catholics wondering why he is involved with the Knights of Columbus in the first place. In 2005 in an article entitled “Confessions of a Spiritual Couch Potato” Loney admitted “I avoid prayer like the plague–the kind where you stop, sit or kneel, do nothing but be, even if for only ten minutes. It’s agony-in-the-garden every time; the easiest thing is to let the cup pass. The thought of fasting nauseates me, and as for Sunday mass–that weekly spiritual reboot and virus check–well, let’s just say I’ve accumulated a significant inventory of mortal sins.”

Conservative columnist Mark Steyn, in an opinion article published in the Western Standard in April of this year, asked rhetorically, “So James Loney is a non-praying non-churgoing non-believing Catholic. What does he believe in?”

Source:  LifeSite News


Loney was born in Calgary, Alberta and was raised in Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. During his late teens he worked as a counsellor at Columbus Boys’ Camp near Orillia, Ontario, on Lake Simcoe. This is a summer camp for underprivileged boys, funded by the Knights of Columbus and staffed by senior high school students from various schools run by the Basilian Fathers.

Source:  Serving History


It should be noted here, by way of clarifying published reports, that there are two separate and distinct camps in Orillia with Knights of Columbus involvement. The five-day Ontario Catholic Youth Leadership Camp is the one that’s threatened. The Knights also fund a three-week Columbus Boys Camp, which rents space from the privately operated, secular Youth Leadership Camps Canada. That program is continuing, as is the broader YLCC enterprise. Many parents were confused and unnecessarily alarmed yesterday.)

Source:  Catholic by Design

[Sylvia’s Note:  actually, as can be seen by other articles, the CBC was threatened]



Tim I’m surprised the lots are for sale. I thought that the Knights who sold out – John Murphy and the other guy – would have already arranged for their personal private lots through the sale of the property.

Sounds like a good deal for someone. The camp sold for around 2 million (and it was never officially listed either.) The camp property was leased to another camp and now 14 separate lots are being offered for around $7 million.

The loss of the property is devastating to everyone. What is really sad is how some people managed to get incredibly wealthy off the sale of the property.



Dear Past and Present Members of Columbus Boys Camp,

As the beginning of a New Year is upon us, I have taken a few minutes to update everyone on the events of the past month. December was a busy month for our camp, since it was the month that the Knights of Columbus Council 1388 decided to forgo the remaining two years of their contract with Youth Leadership Camps Canada and the original Columbus Boys’ Camp property in Orillia. As of December 31, 2006 the name Columbus Boys Camp was dissolved and the by-laws have been revised to remove all connections with Knight of Columbus. I can’t explain why this has happened since I was not involved or invited to participate in any of the meetings or discussions. The reason that I received was that Council 1388 is moving in another direction.

As a result of this decision, the Knights of Columbus are not going to keep this very special ‘vocation’ from stopping-a group of committed individuals have worked together to ensure the camp will continue to operate. Effective January 1, 2007, there is a new name for our camp. The camp will run as it did last year with two groups of boys attending the camp for nine days. But it will be under the new name:

Four Winds Boys’ Camp

There was a lot of discussion regarding the new name for the camp, but as I was up at the camp and saw the faces of the members of our community who make up the four winds (or going further, who built the camp foundation) this name struck a cord.

I know there are a lot of questions and I wish that I could provide you with all of the answers. Unfortunately, at this time we have to be patient, to wait for the new Board of Directors of the Four Winds Boys Camp to establish the operating guidelines and provide us with the information we can use to build a team of committed counselors that will work to make the first year of this camp a success. This will be our opportunity to get involved at the grassroots, to determine the mandate of the camp and lobby for a longer operational season. The new Board hopefully will consist of members of the camp community as well as members of the Archdioceses and other faculties.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved with CBC over the last 75 plus years. From the campers to the counselors, from CAS to the school boards and from the kitchen staff to Senior Staff, you have participated in a legacy that will never be duplicated. CBC made a difference for so many because there were dedicated people involved each year. Thus, at the end of the camping season last year there was no winner of the nation race, the only winner from that night and thousands of nights before was each and everyone of us…….hold those memories close to you.

CBC Forever,

Source:  Facebook


Knights’ summer camp resurrected

Catholic Register

20 June 2007

TORONTO – The efforts of a group of Toronto-area Catholics has guaranteed that there will be a summer camp this year available to underprivileged boys. Four Winds Boys Camp, formerly known as Columbus Boy Camp, will open its doors in August on the shores of Lake Simcoe. “These boys, most of them live in situations in which they don’t enjoy a vacation away from home,” John Murphy, president of the Four Winds board, told The Catholic Register June 19.

“This is an opportunity for them to get away. . . . It changes their lives. For them, it’s a time they cherish and look forward to.”

Four Winds rises from the groundwork established by Columbus Boys Camp, which was founded by Knights of Columbus Council 1388 in Toronto back in 1929). Though the Knights no longer are officially involved, most of the new players are Knights who saw the need for the archdiocese of Toronto to continue to provide a safe summer getaway for boys who live in poor or socially deprived circumstances.

{sidebar}Many of the boys are in difficult home situations where one or the other parent is absent and money is hard to come by. The camp works with Catholic school boards, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Children’s Aid and others to identify boys who would benefit from the experience.

The boys also often come with special needs: in the past this included attention deficit disorder, Tourettes Syndrome, oppositional defiance disorder, Crohns disease, epilepsy, diabetes and learning disabilities.

To ensure the boys get the special care they need, Murphy said, the camp provides a ratio of one camp counsellor for every four boys.

With the future of Columbus Boys Camp in doubt last year, a small group of Catholics got together and, working with Catholic Charities and ShareLife, both of the archdiocese of Toronto, they were able to obtain new funding.

The camp received $110,000 from ShareLife, along with funding from other organizations such as the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, the camp’s own fund-raising golf tournament and gala dinner and others.

It received a big shot in the arm when the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board decided to contribute the earnings of its annual charity golf tournament to Four Winds.

This tournament raises upwards of $100,000 a year and has supported numerous charities in its 10 years, said Michael Bator, director of education for the Dufferin-Peel board. It is run with the help of Metafore IT Solutions.

This year’s tournament is on July 9 at Rattlesnake Point near Milton, Ont., and still has openings. The price is $2,000 per foursome though Bator said the event will be accepting donations of prizes and other contributions as well.

Bator said the board decided to help Four Winds this year because it fulfils the dual purposes for money raised by the golf tournament: it serves young people and also helps those living in the area under the board’s jurisdiction.

For more information on the The Classic golf tournament, go to the web site

Such money helps pay for many boys to go to camp who wouldn’t be able to afford it. Though families are asked to help pay the camp costs, they are not required to do so if they don’t have the means.

The Four Winds organizers were thankful for the help from the Dufferin-Peel board, as well as from Catholic Charities and ShareLife. “The support we’ve had from both ShareLife and Catholic Charities has been phenomenal,” said Murphy.

In the end, such support means some 450 underprivileged boys will each get a week-long summer camp experience, which includes, besides the camp traditions, weekly Mass.

For more information on Four Winds Camp, call (647) 271-4405, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Source:  Catholic Register


Starry-eyed kids keep returning for ‘a great time’

Published On Sun Jun 24 2007

Name: Four Winds Boys’ Camp (formerly Columbus Boys’ Camp)

Location: North end of Lake Simcoe

Campers: 500, ages 6–13 years

Dates: Nine day sessions from Aug. 12–31.

Leslie Ferenc Staff Reporter

The summer of 1999 started out badly for Patrick Jachyra.

He was 9 years old and a newbie camper. No worries though. His older brother Chris was going, too. Big bro was the safety net.

But the waterworks started when the two were separated into their own age groups.

“I remember how sad I felt that first night,” said Patrick, now 17. “I couldn’t sleep because I was crying and really homesick.”

To make himself feel better, he snuck out of the cabin and headed for the playground. That’s where he found the cure to what ailed him.

“I met Joe Gorman and we spent the night counting stars,” said Patrick, referring to the director of Four Winds Boys’ Camp, formerly called Columbus Boys’ Camp. “It was a whole new experience for me. I’d never been to a place where there was no pollution and where the sky was so dark you could see each star.”

Though the stargazing didn’t entirely ease his homesickness that night, it made a lasting impression on the young boy. And with each passing day at camp, his sadness turned to joy.

“The activities were so much fun and that made such a big difference,” said the Grade 12 student at Bishop Allan Academy. To this day, he’s grateful to Gorman for being his “tour guide.”

Patrick cried when it was time to go home. He didn’t want to leave. And he’s never been homesick since.

“Joe’s amazing,” he added. “He works really well with kids.”

This year, Patrick is returning to camp for his third stint as a counsellor.

“I’m really excited,” he admitted. “As a counsellor, it’s up to me to keep the kids entertained. A lot of the kids at camp are from foster homes or are abused children. Camp is their only summer vacation. I want to make sure they have a great time.”

The Lake Simcoe camp has become a Jachyra tradition. Younger brother Martin also made the trek up Highway 400.

He cried, too, just as thousands of other little kids no doubt have over the decades. Maybe it’s the bus that gets them going.

And once again, Gorman came to the rescue. To help wash away the little boy’s blues, he allowed Martin and Patrick to be in the same cabin that year.

“Joe tried to do whatever he could to make kids feel comfortable,” Martin, now 13, said of his mentor.

It’s why he decided to be a role model, too, and lead by example.

“Camp gave me so much and I had so many great experiences that I want to give back,” the Grade 7 student at Holy Family Catholic School said.

The camp has another magic tonic for the homesick. It’s a great big dose of fun, games and new friends. Every imaginable activity and then some are available at Four Winds – water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, wake boarding, archery, a ropes course, arts and crafts – the works.

Four Winds gives underprivileged boys, many referred by the school systems, social workers and children’s aid agencies, “an important refuge and takes them away from the struggles of their daily life,” said Gorman. About 70 per cent come from single-parent families. “At camp, there’s a sense of camaraderie between males,” he continued. “They’re part of a community and they have positive male role models. So many are lacking that.”

The Columbus Boys’ Camp had been operating on Lake Simcoe since 1929.

A few years ago, a portion of the original 20 hectares owned by the Knights of Columbus was sold to a developer. The remaining campsite is owned by a private group. Four Winds rents it for its summer camp.

As a result, the duration of the camp has been chopped by about six weeks and fewer kids get to go. “I can’t tell you how many parents call, desperate to get their sons into camp so they won’t get into mischief. That could easily turn into a lot of trouble. We read about it happening in the paper every day.”

Going to camp and learning new skills gives kids “an identity and helps them see where they can go in their lives and what they can accomplish,” Gorman said.

“Positivity is contagious. And maybe there are some things in the lives of our boys that are not so positive. At camp, they see another side of life.”

Thanks to the Fresh Air Fund, the children will head up the 400 again this summer.

Support from the fund helps subsidize those whose families can’t afford the costs.



This really hit home, he said, during a visit he made recently to one of ShareLife’s 34 funded agencies, Four Winds Boys’ Camp on the shores of Lake Simcoe. The camp, a resurrected form of the Columbus Boys Camp run by the Knights of Columbus, has been running since 2007 thanks to ShareLife and Catholic Charities of the Toronto archdiocese.

Source:  Catholic Register 27 August 2008


Four Winds Boys’ Camp …

Four Winds Boys’ Camp, previously known as Columbus Boys’ Camp, has been operating since 1929. The overwhelming majority of boys registered are from single parent families (72.1%). In 2007, 392 boys registered for Camp and 369 boys attended. It is anticipated that in 2008, with increased publicity, 450 boys will attend Four Winds Boys’ Camp. Some of the organizations and agencies that    provide the referrals are: Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Knights of Columbus, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Children’s Aid Society and the School Boards.

A gift to ShareLife is a sign of our Stewardship.

Source: 30 March 2008 St. Francis of Assisi Parish bulletin, Mississauga, Ontario (Sylvia Note: the same ad is found in mnay parish bulletins)


ShareLife campaigns hit all-time highs

Written by Carolyn Girard, The Catholic Register Wednesday, 27 August 2008 03:17

TORONTO – ShareLife, the charitable fund-raising arm of the archdiocese of Toronto, reached record donations for its 2008 parish and corporate campaigns.

Arthur Peters, ShareLife’s executive director, said this comes as good news after a rough start to the campaign, noting bad weather kept many potential donors at home for the first ShareLife Sunday collection at parishes throughout the archdiocese in March.

“It was a team effort to bring the campaign back,” he said. “We’re very thankful for the generosity of our partners in response to the ShareLife campaign.”

Although the snowstorms and resulting smaller collection meant ShareLife was about $1 million behind its usual March amount, that didn’t prevent ShareLife from achieving another record year.

ShareLife raised $11,763,375 from parishes in the archdiocese, a 2.1-per-cent increase over last year. It also raised $1,553,460 through corporate donations — a 2.25-per-cent gain. Employee payroll deductions, contributions from schools and other miscellaneous sources brought the grand total to $14,020,209.

“The needs of our agencies are always there and increasing,” Peters said. “The ShareLife effort makes a positive difference to the work of our agencies.”

This really hit home, he said, during a visit he made recently to one of ShareLife’s 34 funded agencies, Four Winds Boys’ Camp on the shores of Lake Simcoe. The camp, a resurrected form of the Columbus Boys Camp run by the Knights of Columbus, has been running since 2007 thanks to ShareLife and Catholic Charities of the Toronto archdiocese.

“Being there and seeing that, you realize that wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have the funds to support it,” he said.

Peters added that ShareLife’s fund-raising efforts play a double role.

“When we’re raising funds, we’re doing more than that — we’re evangelizing the good works of the church,” he said…

Source:  Catholic Register 27 August 2008


A Message from the President [of Catholic Charities]

“We assisted with relocation of the Four Winds Camp (now Camp Ozanam) from Lake Simcoe to the Aurora area and with the transition in its management to St Vincent de Paul.”  President of Catholic Charities, 2008

Source: Catholic Charities Cares:  Summary of Agency Services and Activities 2008


Camp Ozanam (formerly Four Winds’ Boys’ Camp)
(416) 934-3401

Referred by social service agencies, school boards and parishes, boys from across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond receive a safe summer camp experience at Camp Ozanam. Activities include aquatics, crafts, skills sports and field sports.

Source: ShareLife [Share Life is “the charitable fundraising arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto”]


Brothers make this camp a family affair

Toronto Star

17 June 2009

Gus was first.

Then Nicholas.

Yup, the Saurer brothers will all be at Camp Ozanam in August.

Ahh, peace and quiet at the Saurer residence – something parents Gus Sr. and Stacey are looking forward to as much as their boys are eager to be at camp.

“I’m ecstatic about going, ” said Gus, 18, who’s attended the Aurora camp – formerly Columbus Boys’ Camp and later Four Winds – since he was 9 years old. “As soon as the warm weather hits, I look forward to going to camp.”

The camp was recently taken under the wing of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and renamed after one of its founding fathers, the Blessed Frederick Ozanam, who was beatified in 1997. His good work continues at the boys’ camp, a home away from home for Gus Saurer, who remembers his first time. “I was nervous,” he said, adding going with a friend helped take the edge off.

Gus may not remember the names of his counsellors, but one thing has never left him – how they treated the kids. “They were all very welcoming and fun. It’s why I’ve stuck with it.

“You find out a lot about yourself during a summer at camp. I found I have hidden patience with kids – not like with my brothers,” the Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School student said with a laugh.

“I also found out how lucky I am. A lot of kids aren’t. Camp helped me appreciate what I have.” He has been a counsellor since 2006. The secret to his longevity is that he loves the outdoors, is a hoot to be with and treats all the kids equally. “I get down to their level and get to know the campers.”

Ozanam is one of 106 camps to receive support from the Fresh Air Fund. The St. Vincent de Paul Society has also ensured much-needed financial stability, said Francis Finnison, director of counsellors. It means the camp is able to offer a fourth session this summer for boys, many from low-income families who may not otherwise have a chance to go.

Source:  17 July 2009

39 Responses to Columbus Boys’ Camp

  1. Quixote says:

    This piece is full of hearsay, and is pinning a lot of accusations on an entire organization for the unconfirmed actions of the few. I realize you are concerned about pedophilia in the church, but this is shotty research. I realize it can be hard to find information, but that doesn’t mean you post something like this attack piece. You start of the piece admitting you have no idea what is going on then launch into speculation. Columbus, Four Winds, Ozanam…whatever name you want to call it by has served tens of thousands of needy boys and is still going strong- giving children positive role models and valuable life lessons. You obviously have not spoken to many people close to the past or present of this organization. You want to go after Bazilians, fine… just don’t paint everyone with such a wide brush- because it’s unfair and unfounded- irresponsible.

  2. Quixote says:

    Apologies- the term “attack piece” is too harsh… as is the overall tone of the last post. I do realize the importance of holding the church responsible- but it is a shame to see the camp pulled into all of this. Many good people were and still are involved with amazing work for these kids. I do believe the piece gives the wrong impression overall due to incomplete/ incorrect information.

  3. Sylvia says:

    I realize that many good people were involved in the camp Quixote. I realize that many young lads had the time of their lives at the camp. However, I also believe it is highly possible that some boys were sexually abused at the camp. If that is the case, I hope and pray that they will come forward.

  4. Former Counselor says:

    I see nothing wrong in anything Sylvia wrote on a very complicated topic. Most of it is just links to other articles which she obviously researched very hard to find. Incomplete information …….. absolutely. I was a camp counselor there and I can barely figure out what has happened the past ten years. Good work on a convoluted mess Sylvia. It is just a touch odd how hard it is to figure out what brought CBC down, who owned, and sold the land and so on.

    The more important point is there are four Basilian priests known to be sexual predators who prey on young men/boys. As the Basilians ran (in some manner or another) CBC and at least some of those four priests are known to have been there ………… it is of the utmost importance that questions be asked.

    I don’t know of anything untoward that every happened there. I hope every counselor, camper and staff member to ever pass through CBC can say the same and does so if true. But I also hope that if anyone knows otherwise, that they feel free and welcome to speak the truth.

    Truth will never undo all the good CBC did; it could undo some bad if such is the case.

  5. HE-MAN 1987 says:

    A big hey to all those who were a part of my experience at CBC. It’s a shame that the history and the legacy are gone. I am unaware of any abuses which may or may not have occurred at CBC. My experience consisted of some of the best years of my youth. Outings to Mitchell’s Rock and Algonquin will remain forever in my heart as will the campfire stories told by the ” Indian Chief “. Thanx again to all during the summer of 88. I miss and remember you all!

    P.S. does anyone know where the memorabilia ( name plaques ) ended up?

  6. MannyWeb says:

    Hey I went to this camp two years in a row during the late eighties. I was just talking about this camp to my wife and wondering about the name plaques as well.

    Time of my life there.

    Never heard of any wrong doing. I was a Huron and my cabin we were the Wyandot.

  7. Steve White says:

    This is interesting reading, as a person from an abusive background both physical and emotional as well as there being alcoholics on both sides of the family including both parents. These 10 days in the summer was quite a nice refuge from city living and the abuse, I looked forward to these 10 days with great anticipation from 1964 to 1970 where I then became a JC for one summer. I remember the companionship of many people from different areas, the stiff competition between tribes and most of all the mentoring of some of the Brazilian priest and full councillors.
    Although not a organized religious person but considered a spiritual person, I do have some fond memories of Father John Melo, Father Hammer (sorry cannot remember really name), Councillor Smith (cannot remember first name) who was from the Regent Park area of the city, the Gauthier family and all the other people who names have erased over the years.
    In my time there I was unaware of any wrong doing but I am not naive and I am sure there were things that should not have happened; it is sad that a few were able to bring down what was once a great institution.
    Peace to everyone.
    Steve White (an old camper)

  8. Redd says:

    I too am wondering where the old name plaques went. I was a counsellor there from 86-89 and spent many sessions enjoying the wave of the Huron flag. Sorry Iroquois.

  9. John says:

    On my last day at CBC back in 1994/95 I remember seeing something really creepy when we were getting on the buses to take us back to Toronto, I remember seeing one of the head councillors (I think his name was [….] Talking with one of the kids who was a member of my cabin. This might sound sorta weird but I remember seeing him squatting down talking to him and putting something in his hand and then sent him off to get in line to get on the bus. I asked him “hey man what did he say to you” and he responded “I will tell you when we get on the bus”.

    For some odd reason I have always remember that moment and is one of the main memories I have from being at that camp, i’m not saying anything weird or sexual happened but I do know what I saw and when I saw was really weird and very suspicious. This story is 100% true and I hope that whatever went down was really nothing.

  10. Sylvia says:

    Thanks John. In the event that the encounter between the the boy and counsellor was innocent I decided I had best delete the name of the counsellor.

  11. Guillermo says:

     I had no idea the camp had been closed for so long. And even worse all the controversy surrounding it.  I went for 4 years in a row, won best cabin every time :).  Pure luck.  I do have one question, and would be really grateful to anyone who could answer it.  Where was Mitchell’s rock??? I attended the camp in the early 90’s and my memory is a bit hazzy.  Could anyone provide me with even a rough idea of its location.  I remember it being magical.  The trek to the rock that ended with a small waterfall.  The ice caves, and the people who would zipp line down the rock.  Amazing.  I long to go back, capture a little magic if its still there.  Sincerely, one very nastalgic camper.

  12. Joe says:

    Thanks for all the questions about the plaque’s.I was proud to have my name on one for best cabin!

    I was a counsellor at CBC for 2 summers, back in the mid 80’s. I was chosen to be a counsellor by a Basilian who worked at the all boys Catholic Highschool where I attended. he essentially recruited students. His name was Father Holmes. My memories of CBC are very fond, and I believe I not only helped those who were under privledged, but learned more about myself from the kindness and spirituality that dominated so much of camp life. I have spoken about these years with great fondness to my wife.

    15 years post CBC, I was playing hockey in Brampton in a mens league.  I wore my old blue CBC t-shirt ( yes the one with the Indian) under my equipment. My goaltender, who was much younger than I then remembered me as his counsellor and shared how meaningful those 10 days were for him as he came from a very impoverished background. he spoke so highly of his days at CBC and what is meant for him growing up in Regent Park. To say CBC impacted many people in a positive way is a gross understatement.
    It is unfortunate about the shadow of abuse, but I know this all too well from the plight of the Catholic church.If this has occurred, I hope that those men will step forward, and begin to heal.

  13. Jordan Lannan says:

    I knew Father Leo Campbell most of my life, including when I was a child and teenager (I was 24 when he passed away,) and I would just like to add to this by saying that I never experienced anything whatsoever like that. I would like my voice to be heard as well. In my first-hand experience, and in the experience of others I know, he was a helpful, kind, and inclusive man who was there for his friends, family and community. In my experience, he was a good friend and a true priest, and I honestly cannot picture anything like that happening with him – not in my wildest imagination. I wasn’t there, but I just wanted my voice to be heard as well. I wish only love and health for the claimants, and I hope that the priority here is truth and nothing else.

  14. camper for 8 years says:

    I just recently thought about my time at camp and decided to look it up and was very shocked and disappointed to see that it closed the orilla location. is there anyone who knows what they dis with the plaques I really hope they didn’t get destroyed with the cabins.I always remembered reading the really old ones in my cabins and hoped that my name would stay on the walls for decades.If anyone knows what happened to them please reply. also the summers I spent at camp and in Algonquin park were some of the best times of my childhood and I never saw any wrong doing in all the years I went there in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

  15. Kris Phoenix says:

    I attended Colubus Boys Camp in the early 70’s, and had no problems at all. The counsellors were great, I was we’ll fed, and had the time of my life. I cried when. I left, and I cried when it was time to come home. It was a safe, healthy enviroment and the staff would take the time to talk to you,an d help you with any issues. It was an excellent well put together program!!! There was no wrong doings going on there.

  16. Redd says:

    As I read through the posts, I am feeling a tad nostalgic. My favourite part of camp as counsellor was Superhero day. I remember the painstaking time it took to become Firestorm, the Nuclear Man. The biggest joy in the whole day was the way it brought all if us closer.
    To have the camp and its beautiful experiences overshadowed by the actions of a few truly is a shame. What those few did and continued to do

  17. Redd says:

    Was a travesty simply swept under the carpet by the church. To have the camp’s reputation tarnished is not right.
    CBC forever

  18. Frank Simpson says:

    I was a Counselor in the early nineties and I had a Blast. From just being a buddy to a kid with issues a home to sitting around camp fires with the kids….. Going into town on your days off was the hit from seeing a movie or just meeting up with girls you meet from town.. LOL WOOP. To bad it closed up can anyone find pics of the camp?

  19. Darrell K. Stubbs says:

    I attended Columbus Boy’s Camp in the 70s and it was a marvelously enriching experience. I won awards for handicraft and casting learned to handle a canoe and hiked the Bruce Trail with the camps Algonquin group. I was usually an Iroqois and won best cabin in cabins 5,7, and 9. I personally knew Fr. Leo and many other priests and was never mosested by any of them. For a time I lived in a home in Detroit, Michigan with Fr. Bob Robert Holmes and Fr. Paul rybicki. Fr. Paul left the preisthood to marry a former nun sister vicky. I also remember when Fr. Leo was ordained He just seemed like an ordinary man and I nor any one I know has ever spoken of any impropriaties by him. As a boy I frequented to the rectory and convent of St Cecilias church. They had more than ample opportunity yet there was no molestation.

  20. S. Keeble says:

    I was the single-parent of 3 boys who attended CBC in the 80’s. They always came home “over the moon” about their experiences. I thank God and the KOC for giving them the opportunity to attend the camp. I never heard anything negative about their experiences. They still talk about their camp experiences in glowing tones. I made sure that I asked them if there were any problems while they were at the camp and they said no. Too bad that so many needy children will not get the same opportunity.

  21. camper says:

    Hi I’d like to say somethings about my experiences. I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER. I went to columbus boys bible camp for yrs from a papoose to warrior to chieftan to algonquin. I believe the things I learned from there, has givin’ me more confidence in myself. I could tell you about every day. Fun times. Games I played. The food I ate. Things I learned, and I learned alot of different things, from arts and crafts to water activities and learning the outdoors . Now I’m a father of 5 wonderful kids with my wife. I had wondered about the plaques for years, I always was on the Huron side. I hope that they were not lost. My brother had attended the camp as well great times!!

  22. Michael Verkaik says:

    I went to boys camp there when I was a boy and I had a good time

  23. P.A.S. says:

    I found this website recently as a result of my own curiosity about the camp I attended in the summer of ’77. I can confirm there was a predator at the camp. I don’t remember his name but he was a routound man with a bushy beard / moustache and wore glasses, like Gerry Garcia of the Greatful Dead. On my first night he went from bunk to bunk and made sure each boy was sleeping fully naked (as per his instructions) by reaching into each boys blanket and feeling our penises. On another ocassion when I had to run to the toilet building in the middle of the night (fully naked) the same man suddenly appeared at the urinal next to me to pee also, by dropping his shorts to his ankles. There was nobody else around. The third situation and the one I am most bothered by was when we spent a night ‘camping’ and slept in tee-pee tents. Just before bed time we were given hot chocolate and hurridly sent to the tee-pee. In the morning I found myself on the other side of the tee-pee from my sleeping bag and from where I went to sleep (despite being in a tent with about 12 other boys) and was very wet from my waist down, but not pee the bed wet – it was, I assume, water – though it did not rain that evening, and I was wearing pj’s. Also I remember how dazed I felt in the morning, not the alert feeling of waking after sleeping in the fresh air one might expect and the confusion of being wet and out of my sleeping bag in a different spot from where I lay down. If I was drugged that night I will never know but the experience has been with me for over 37 years and my concern is what brought me to this site. For those who had excellent experiences I am happy, as I too had a great time there, being voted best camper for my age group and getting to meet a real Indian Chief in full dress were the highlights of my stay. I did want to confirm though that there was a negative element lurking there.

    • The shy camper says:

      Thanks for sharing P.A.S. I too was a camper during the late seventies (won best camper also). Don’t remember Garcia but did have an unusual experience at the camp one night. I was told that I fell off my top bunk during the night – woke up in the nurses ward the next morning and informed that I had suffered a concussion. Didn’t remember anything about that night. Haven’t thought much of it until I came across this site and recalled that situation and how at the time and for years afterwards I wondered what had happened to me…weird. Outside of that situation, today I recall many fond memories of CBC. The councillors were terrific – Ed RAFTIS especially (a great man!). From rock climbing to canoeing and portaging, surviving those last couple of days in Algonquin on just PB and Jam lol! I definitely do draw from those terrific experiences – today am an executive and fortunate to have so much given the situation I rose up from.

  24. Matt says:

    I went to cbc for 3 years, had an amazing time and great memories. Decided to look it up because i saw a picture of david frost( of mike danton fame) and realized he was my counsellor there i believe in 1988. He was fired that summer i should point out as well

  25. Dave Prindiville says:

    I attended CBC in the late 1970’s for three years. I am someone with fond memories and luckily without negative incidents. Thank you to the researcher for digging into the history to advertise facts. It kind of changes perspective of my childhood memories, but I’ve already learned the horrible facts about bad people in the world. As pointed out in the article, there were many young under privileged boys who did enjoy the fun camp experience they offered. I was one.

    • Dave Prindiville says:

      I do remember being told at the time by a fellow camper of a cabin where the boys had to sleep naked. I remember thinking it was weird and not believing bc it didn’t sound right/normal. I was confused bc I couldn’t think why I would be lied to about it. My memory and understanding from then is that it was a cabin near the washroom & shower building by the vehicle entrance area that seperated the sleeping cabins area and the dining hall.

  26. walter slatter says:

    I remember my camp experience there in the early 80’s…I had found a friend…a great friend to hang out with…but I never got his info the day I left and it saddened me that I only knew him as Mike. I was in the Haida cabin in 1982? I think if we had each others addresses back then that we’d still be best friends today….Oh what a pity…. Still Mitchell’s Falls and rock climbing was a great experience.. miss those days…..

  27. Phil Markovic says:

    I was a cMper for many yrs. I remember Mitchell’s rock. I also remeber the big juice and going 500-0 in teather ball. A record that still stands lol. I also won best cabin with the Haida cabin. Would love to see the plaque

  28. Bill Taylor says:

    I have reported an incident on Sylvia’s site about pedophile Leo Campbell who was removed from CBC in 1978. Instead here I’d like to share a few memories.

    I was a councillor in 1978. I recall one close fried but foget his name, and I’d like to connect with him. He was from Ottawa I believe. We listened to his punk rock records and on superhero day, we both dressed as hardcore punks – ripped tshirts and screwed up hairdos and saftey pins and markers on the shirt and jears declairing “I hate kids” etc. We were super super villians and the kids booed us and we walked through the mess cabin and spat on some plates (pre-arranged). On talent night my friend taught my some Sex Pistols songs, and I played Sid Vivious with a paddle for a bass and we yelled and banged and kids booed and threw paper and it was so much fun.

    I also recall taking kids out after dark to see the “indian burial grounds” which had kids on edge and we brought them out on the lake on the beach below a sand cliff and then someone on top of the hill let out a war cry and through a spear with flames, which I think was a hockey stick with a gas rag, on a beautiful arc over the beach and into the water. Oh the kids screemed and scattered in ever direction! What fun.

  29. Bill Taylor says:

    I really enjoyed my summer as a councillor and was rewarded many times over by the joy brought to inner city youth who otherwise would not have access to nature and bushcraft and friendly competition, and spirituality in a casual, approachable setting. There was much good done there, despite the few bad apples.

  30. Mike says:

    The people that knew more about others like weinstein and the pizza gate culture that goes back so far got CBC shut down. CBC has been around since the twenties.

    A “few bad apples” The church had some bad people that treated kids like crap and i can see those kids getting back at the church by doing unspeakable things. I think CBC is a victim too. Youre going to have a hard time finding any kind of pizza gate thing happening here, and i personally think if everyone that went to this camp knew about this site, CBC would be started right back up again..

    I knew Jim Loney, I am just so shocked by all this. When my dad started doing drugs and stopped bringing me to CBC, Jim would mail me letters, I ran away at 14 and when i went to jail Jim would write to me, we would meet many more times during my young street life and he had many opportunities to sexually abuse me. When i was younger i thought Jim was odd that he would show me so much love, i always thought he would do something to me. But he was always nice to me and never ever touched me. when i saw Jim in the news i started looking into the history of CBC and thats what brought me to this site.

    My memories of CBC:
    I remember a big fight, this one kid knew martial arts and he knocked out like 3 other boys. it happened on the last day on the basketball court.

    I remember i fell out the back of the canoe in the curvy lake in the back of the camp ground. i had all my clothes on and shoes and i was so small, i had to fight for my life and i had just enough energy to get above the water and yell out to them i fell out, no one had noticed i have fallin out.

    I remember
    becoming blood brothers with someone one year.
    I remember one kid had suit case full of candy.
    I remember one year a few friends and I were walking near where they have the flag burning. We noticed noise and saw naked people diving in the water, we heard a woman too, we didnt know what to do. So i yelled out something random so they heard me, “ITS OVER HERE GUYS” and they ran off.
    I remember meeting a friend at CBC with missing fingers on one hand and he helped me run away by giving me a place to sleep at night for awhile.

    I was there in 82′ and my name is Mike. I made many friends at this camp.

    I feel like im different than most people because of this camp. CBC is one of the best experiences ive ever had in my whole life.

    This camp included native culture, it made me grow up loving natives and black people and other cultures. My wife is jewish and she went to a jewish camp, they didnt include native culture in their programs and she dosnt celebrate other cultures like i do.

    To say or use Jim to justify closing this camp down is total ^%$#%. Who ever had the hand in closing this down is overkill.

    After i got off the streets at 21, Ive been married for 27+ years, I have 21, 12 and 6 year old sons. I became a Plumber, Web Developer and a landscaper.

    To the person that wants to ruin Jims life: my son is a web master too, he too for the next 80 years or so will only say nice things about the man (Jim) who shaped his father. Thats why they closed it down, it was creating way too many kids like me.

    or maybe i just had the BEST counselor, thats why people are just asking for their plaque and not saying good things about the camp shaping their lives. I never won best cabin, but i have the best life. Thanks Jim. <3

    Thanks for making this blog.

    • William R Armstrong says:

      Hi I attended this camp many years if I remember correctly. We had different camps hike canoe horse and bike. Was this the camp that had the Chief come and he would ask of the four winds to light the fire and it would light up??

  31. Steve Foden says:

    My brother and I just spent a couple of days together, reminiscing about our 10 days at CBC every summer from 1963 to 1970. Both of us now in our 60s having nothing but fond memories of our time at camp. Both of us grew up in the Catholic school system in Toronto. Neither of us recall any priests or other people associated with the Catholic Church at the camp. We do remember our councillors and the wonderful activities at camp. We were both quite surprised to read about what may have been going on while we were there and also that the camp is no longer in operation.

  32. HARRY Thomas says:

    Wow those days were such a life change that is reflected Evan today I went to cbc in the late seventies and eighties with my two brothers .being picked up downtown Toronto and bused sway for ten days .We had all our cloths packed in garbage bags .glad to hear so many life changing stories that came out from going to cbc . Has anyone ever tracked down where the wooden best camper plaques ended up i would like e to get mine or even a picture of it. Me email address is if anyone has info on this i can share a picture of one of our last days with me holding i best camper certificate and the green sweater.

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