Dunlop & Denison

I had been considering doing a kayak trip on Elliot Lake today but circumstances put the kibosh on that idea, so I regrouped and came up with another idea. I checked out Google Maps and located, what I felt, would be an interesting hike.

I was headed to a mine site that I hadn’t visited yet called the Denison mine site. However, just up the road a little bit from that was the Dunlop Lake public boat launch, so I decided to check that out first.

Here’s the sign for the launch area, showing a map of canoe routes and other information.

This is, by far, the largest boat launch area I’ve been to yet up here.

There is a narrow strip of land attaching this small island to the parking lot and you can actually drive out on the island, although I chose to walk out today.

The road circles around the island, where there are benches and picnic areas available.

It was quite nice and, today, there was no one else there, so I had it all to myself. There were also washrooms available back in the parking lot, but they were already closed for the season.

There is a river that runs out of Dunlop Lake over there. The yellow boom is to stop anything, or anyone, from going over the dam, which is just under the wooden bridge for ATV/Snowmobile use.

Back on the mainland, here are the docks at the launching point.

This is a shot of the river from on top of that wooden ATV/Snowmobile bridge.

Anyway, I just wanted to check out this area, since I’d never been here before. I got back in the truck and headed a short way down the highway to the Cinder Lake entrance of the Denison mine site. You can also enter the Denison mine site farther north on Hwy 108 at Denison Road, but I wanted to explore the more southerly region of the site first.

Here’s the gate at the Denison mine site. This gate and road are well used. While I was in here today, two different Denison empoyees in pickup trucks passed me by. This site is an actual Dension mine site, but the Denison group also oversees all the other decommissioned mines in this area, so I’ve seen these trucks in the other mine sites too.

The first thing I came to was this river.

And then, this huge wall of rock came into view;

These rock walls are in many of the mine sites. This is the biggest one I’ve seen yet. They are built to keep contaminated water contained inside the mine sites until it can be treated properly for release into the surrounding water system.

I can’t even begin to imagine how many truck loads it took to build this wall.

Just to give you an idea of the scale of this thing, I found this wandering bum along the way and asked him to stand in front of it for a picture.

I felt really sorry for this guy. I don’t think he was all there, if you know what I mean. He actually thought that he could climb to the top of this mountain. Anyway, I left him to his task and continued on.

There was still a little bit of colour in the area and there were a number of lakes, to which I didn’t know the names at the time, but I do now, so I will point them out as I go.

I see a PVC pipe that seems to be snaking it’s way up to the top of the rock wall, so that’s the way I’ll go. I’m a bit smarter than that other idiot I met earlier, trying to climb up on the rocks.

Up we go! Boy, there’s nothing like climbing these hills to remind you that you’re not as young as you used to be.

Looking back, as I’m half way up the hill. No sign of that old bugger. He must have fallen down and can’t get up. Serves him right for not being as smart as I am.

Finally at the top. I feel like Sir Edmund Hillary, although I think he was probably in better shape than I am. At least I know that I’m probably not ready for the grave yet, because if that didn’t kill me I don’t have too much to worry about.

From the top, I can see a number of lakes. This is Stollery Lake. It is divided in half by a narrow causeway running through it.

That road down there is where I came from, and that’s Stollery Lake again, on the right. You can just see another lake over the tips of the trees in the distance, that’s part of Dunlop Lake.

Turning around 180 degrees, on the other side of the rock wall, I find another, very scenic, lake. It turns out, this lake doesn’t actually have a name, and the reason for that is that it is a man-made lake that was constructed in order to contain the radioactive mine tailings under water, where they would be less likely to give off radiation into the air.

Here’s a video I took of that lake. I didn’t know at the time that this lake had no name and that the tailings were actually contained in the lake.

For anyone who wants to get the feeling of being the last human on earth, these mine sites are very good for that. The quiet and remoteness, with no one else around is, in one way, peaceful, but in another, eery. I think that’s part of the reason I like these places so much.

Another view of Stollery Lake. I wouldn’t want to go rolling down that hill! Although, I imagine it would make a pretty neat tobogganing hill in the winter time.

Here you can see both sides of Stollery Lake. As I mentioned before, that’s just a narrow strip of land between the two halves, which has a road on it. I don’t know why they divided the lake like that, or if it was just a natural formation that they used to make a road on.

Again, this is the tailings lake on the high side of the wall of rocks. That peninsula you can see in the middle there is where I took the first video from.

The road you see at the top, curving off to the right, leads to the gate where I came in. The same road comes in and curves to the right again and leads down to the end of the rock wall, where I followed that PVC pipe up the hill. The other road, coming in past the lake from the left is where I will, eventually, come back out when I finish my walk. That lake there is Denison Lake.

This is the road along the top of the rock wall.

Another view of the curved road along the top of the rock wall. You can see how wide open this mine site is.

Looking back, I’m getting close to the end of the rock wall now.

At the end of the rock wall, I went off road, for a while, to do a little exploring along the lake with no name. It was here that I got a very eery feeling of being lost in the barrens. It’s so wild and ruggedly remote, and oh so quiet.

I can imagine what it must have been like for the first people who came in here looking for places to mine uranium, or whatever.

As you can see, there’s a bit of blue sky starting to poke through the clouds now. It’s been mostly cloudy all day, so far, but very calm.

Back on the road, going down towards Denison Lake.

White birches against iron stained rocks along the roadway.

Another view of the rock wall from across Denison Lake. Reminds me a bit of the pyramids from this angle.

Just before I came upon this sign, a Denison employee in a pickup truck drove by me and waved. I guess that means I’m in no danger of being prosecuted. They do regular sweeps of the mine sites all around this area and also monitor and maintain the equipment necessary for ensuring that any hazardous elements are not flowing into the surrounding environment.

Now I’m really starting to see some blue.

A little bit of colour along the road.

A rushing river flowing out of Denison Lake.

One last look at the wall of rocks, before I head back towards the entrance gate.

When I got back to the entrance gate, I noticed that someone had left a pair of boots up on a rock ledge. Maybe they were there when I came in and I just didn’t see them. Interesting.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Hi, we are currently working on an exhibition (more information: and a publication about the “nuclear chain” which also contain a poster about uranium mining in Canada.

    For that purpose we are looking for photos. I found one in your blog (see: I would like to ask your authorisation to use it for our exhibition.

    I’m looking forward to your reply!

    Many thanks and best wishes, Sam


  2. Certainly Samantha, you may use that picture if you wish. I don’t consider it one of my finest moments in photography, and there are many other pictures of mine site gates on my blog that might be more photogenic, let’s say. However, if you particularly interested in the Denison mine site, then you may not find another picture of that gate.

    If there’s anything else I can do for you, please let me know.


  3. Thanks a lot!


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