A Tribute to Norm Bourgeois

Norm and kids with porcupine hat - unknown from Stokely photo library

Norm Bourgeois (1916-2010) was a local legend known best for welcoming cross-country skiers into his cabin for a warming cup of tea, a cookie and at least one entertaining tale. His entertaining stories, ranging from a description of his self-made deep sea diving helmet, his porcupine quill hat or his times as a cook in the logging camps would mesmerize guests of all ages and had a positive impact on everyone he encountered. Norm was a master story teller whose animated antics and words typically resulted in gales of laughter from the crowds which regularly assembled at his cabin on so many winter ski weekends.

His quirky, ramshackle original log cabin, was adorned inside with so many weird and wonderful artifacts, that it was almost impossible to see the actual log walls or the ceiling. A visit to Norm and his cabin became a highlight of cross-country skiers at Stokely Creek Lodge, with many returning year after year to become “regulars”.


In 1996, shortly after Norm turned eighty, he found it hard to keep up with hauling water and chopping wood.  Stokely Creek Lodge went to some lengths to facilitate Norm’s ability to continue using his cabin and the Algoma Highlands Conservancy purchased the property as a means of ensuring its continued value as a destination ski and so that Norm could continue to visit and entertain in accordance with his longstanding traditions. Sadly, Norm made his last trip to his cabin at the age of 88 and passed away peacefully on February 6, 2010 a couple weeks after his 94th birthday.  While Norm may no longer be with us in person, he is certainly still with us all in spirit.  It is in that context that we have rebuilt the cabin and continue to refer to it as Norm’s. While we can never replace the individual, we are confident that Norm would be pleased to see his traditions of sharing, welcoming and hosting of adventurers in the backcountry of the Algoma Highlands are being continued. The new cabin represents a lasting tribute to the one and only – Norm Bourgeois.


4 Comments on “A Tribute to Norm Bourgeois

  1. He was such a great person and what a warm welcoming spot it was every year that I did the Stokeley Loppit. Norm was one of a kind and shall always admire his pioneering spirit right into the 21st century! Thanks Norm.

  2. I had been skiing to Norm’s cabin for some 15+ years when in 1998 and 1999 I ski-bummed at the lodge for those 2 seasons and spent many nights out at the cabin with Norm so he would not be alone there in his later years. Norm and his son taught me to play pinochle late into the night.

    I remember the early morning ski back to the lodge to get the fires going before guests arose, and saw sunrise at Bone Lake, another sunrise as I skied down the trail, and a third sunrise just as I reached Home-Run Hill and the lodge.

    I haven’t seen the new cabin and don’t think it can be the same for me. I have about 8 hours of audiotapes of Norm telling the many stories of his life in Canada and the Algoma Highlands. Many of the stories were repeats, but the details in the stories never varied. The story of the porcupine hat, Jake La Motta and the New York hotel key, the endless stream of Red Rose Tea, how Norm’s brother carried the old cook-stove up to the cabin (with extra rocks loaded into the stove to increase the load), and bear and moose stories galore. All told with Norm’s excited and infectious laugh.

    Norm was a character we will never forget and his framed photo still rests on our kitchen island counter.

    • Norm was my uncle. My dad was one of his brothers. Your words are very kind. If you ever transcribe those tapes, I would love to read them. I have a few stories of my own about him handed down to me from dad.

      • Susan,

        I will try to prepare a short video clip using photos of Norm and the Bone Lake Camp along with Norm telling one of his iconic stories. Send me your E-mail address to firstmtn@aol.com and I will let you know when I have posted the clip. I have transferred all of the audio interviews to .wav files, but they need editing. I hope to eventually assemble all of the audio into a single program of Norm telling his stories. Anyone who knew Norm would instantly recognize his voice.

        Thanks for your note

        P.S. To correct my first post – Norm taught me to play cribbage, not pinochle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: