My grandfather, Bing Young, built Lake of the Clouds in 1965. He worked in construction all his life. Castle Glen hired him as the caretaker. He plowed all the roads, took care of all the buildings, and he also built the lake. He did that until he retired around the year 2000. He lived across Grey Road 19. There’s an old farmhouse on the hill. When he retired Castle Glen gave him two acres of land and he built his house there.
I spent every weekend as a child up there, always hiking. The lake was stocked with speckled trout. That’s where I would spend all my Christmases. I proposed to my wife there, too, right at the arch of the castle.
My grandfather had to enforce the No Trespassing signs at certain times because big four-wheelers would come in off the Sixth Street extension, drive into the castle and rip up the trails. But other than that, everyone you talk to up there is very open about sharing the land. I’ve been going up there my whole life as a local. It’s always just something you do on weekends. The walk through the hardwood forest from the castle to Sixth Street is absolutely beautiful. It’s an ecosystem for a lot of wildlife. It’s a nice place to enjoy. When you come out of that forest the view over the whole area is incredible.
There’s a real lack of awareness about what could happen to the Castle Glen property. Until I heard about it from the Escarpment Corridor Alliance I had no idea that the land was sold to a big developer. The original Castle Glen owners had the dream of doing all this but they never had the funds to make it happen. I have the original pamphlet from Castle Glen when they were selling lots for $3,900 in the late ‘60s or early ’70s. The development was the kind of thing that was out of sight, out of mind. It was something from 15 or 20 years ago that stalled and everyone forgot about.
I’ve always been a mountain biker. One of my biggest concerns is that the nearby mountain bike trails at Three Stage will get destroyed. The soil is clay-based. When it’s wet and people ride there, the trails get damaged fast. A 1,600-home development, potentially a hotel, is just that much more traffic volume.
And for the road biking community, Grey Road 19 is a haven for cyclists. The increased traffic would be monumental. I can’t imagine all the dump trucks going up and down there.
I also worry about the Pretty River Provincial Park and the amount of people that the development will bring. And I don’t like the idea of a housing development right on the Bruce Trail corridor.
I’m not against development, but this is massive. I’m surprised that the environmental side isn’t being looked at more.
My grandfather passed away in 2002, but all those trails and forests are the same as I remember them. If that development is pushed through, it would change the whole landscape of the area.
My hope is that Castle Glen stays as it is for future generations to enjoy.
This article is edited and condensed from an interview with Jason Smith, an avid mountain biker and ECA volunteer who grew up in Collingwood and now lives in Wasaga Beach.