iN PHOTOS: Fate of Three Bears cabin still unknown as bureaucrats move in with Mystic Trail seizures

'Patch of Skull Daisies' appears to be staying.

MABEL LAKE - The fate of what remains of the Mystic Trail and its almost 90-year-old 'Three Bears Cabin' hangs in the balance as the province acts upon a seizure notice pinned to the bear's cabin.

The trail that sits north of Lumby deep in the forest on the shores on Mabel Lake, was conceived by the late Fern Makarenko, who created an enchanted forest of weird and wonderful organic sculptures that make up the home including Oogy-Woogly, Penny Penguin, Oodvark and many more. While most of the organic sculptures that dot the trail have either been lost to the elements or are in the final stages of decomposing, structures that have managed to stand the test of time now have to withstand government scrutiny.

This includes the Three Bears House, renamed and fixed up by Fern in the eighties. The trapper's cabin dates back to the 1930s.

A seizure notice from The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development dated May 6 states all "unauthorized structures... including: dog house, toys and other items" contravene the land act and may be removed. The notice follows an earlier trespass order.

While the Ministry of forests hasn't specified exactly what will be removed, what they incorrectly identify as a "dog house," (it's actually the last remaining of the 'Three Little Pigs houses') is gone, as is another circular wooden structure made from branches. A bridge which connected the trail to the privately owned campsite of the Giro Club where Fern would spend her summers has also been pulled down.

The Ministry told that "originally installed items that are considered safe, and add... character, will remain," while "items that are unsafe for the public" will be removed.

The Ministry said the trapper's cabin will be assessed by a ministry official.

How this will play out for the Three Bears Cabin remains to be seen.

The ministry has however cleaned up some of the sculptures - Oodvark now has his name plaque back and the animal bones that make up the 'Patch of Skull Daisies' is labelled too. The shoe tree that marks the beginning of the trail will also remain.

Fern's daughter Judi Makarenko said her mother wouldn't be happy with the government's intervention or the current state of the trail.

"She didn't want to see it go into disrepair or grow back into the jungle out there," Judi said.

Once Fern and her husband Steven decided they were too far from health care and telephones, they stopped spending the summers in their trailer at the Giro Club campsite next door to the trail.

"Mum never went back once they left, it was a really tough decision for her, she was the one that was dragging her feet about moving," said Judi.

Judi herself sees the government's actions as somewhat inevitable.

"They can do whatever they want, we knew that all along," she said.

However, it appears the Ministry of Forests did once commit leaving the trail alone.

Retired school teacher Alan Desjardins met Fern in the late nineties and wrote several articles about the trail for various publications. In the midst of his research, Desjardins received a fax from the Ministry of Forests in 1997 stating the department "made a verbal assurance (the Mystic Trail) would be fine to leave there until such times the site was planned for recreational development."

Hope that the Ministry of Forests would stay true to their word was quickly dashed.

"Public safety is the priority and takes precedence over any assurances made in 1997," the department said in an email.

For now, the future of the oddities and creatures which remain on the trail is unclear, as is that of an almost century-old trappers cabin.

The fate of the 1930 era cabin is still unknown.
The fate of the 1930 era cabin is still unknown.

Oodvark appears to be staying put.
Oodvark appears to be staying put.

The late Fern Makarenko with her husband Steven in 2008.
The late Fern Makarenko with her husband Steven in 2008.
Image Credit: Judi Makarenko

A fax dated June 1997 gives the 'verbal assurance' the trail will be left alone.
A fax dated June 1997 gives the 'verbal assurance' the trail will be left alone.

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