Camp Cataraqui is surrounded by Clear Creek Provincial Nature Reserve. The nature reserve is home to very rare nesting warblers and is an old growth Carolinian forest. The camp is home to one the oldest oak tree in Canada.
It was first use by Chatham/Kent Boy Scouts in 1930. The land was owned by Grover Shaw Thompson. 19th Windsor Scouts came to Camp Clearville in 1935. In 1938 Olga Gas Ltd drilled for oil. In February 25, 1946 100 acres was sold to National Trust Company Ltd. in trust for the provincial council for Ontario Boy Scouts. The 25 year dream of Chatham Kent Boy Scouts came true on July 6, 1946. The Scouts were represented by troop’s 6, 10, and 11. The Boy Scouts drilled a well on the property owned by Koehler and Dawdy. In 1948 the first long house was moved from Chatham and place on the hill by Clearville Rd. The Longhouse was an old Jail house. During 1949 & 1950 the Gas Company built the bridge over the creek.
Koehler/Dawdy and Chatham Boy Scouts signed the Right of Use of Well Agreement in 1954. It wasn’t until 1960 that the first road into the camp was created in the same spot it is today. Two years later in 1962 there was more drilling at the camp. The next year brought discussions of putting up a chapel, a railing on the bridge, and there was more drilling by Lynwood Security. National trust sold the property to the Provincial Council for Ontario Boy Scouts of Canada in 1964. Lowrie Memorial Chapel was donated and built by the Chatham Sertome Club. It was approximately 800 man hours of labour. Lynwood Security did more drilling, still no oil. The camp received a donation of floor coverings, seats, reading stand and table when St David’s Anglican Church was torn down.
Construction on the halfway house was started in 1968 and was completed in 1969 by John Schuur. McGeachy Longhouse was donated to the camp by the McGeachy Foundation. The Longhouse was the Wilson school on Indian Creek Rd; it was placed in its current location. Water lines were run to the Longhouse and the Halfway Inn from the well. In 1970 International 435 tractor was donated by International Harvester Chatham. The Water lines were run under the south end of the Longhouse and valve at the north end for the kitchen. A winterized pump house was put up. There were discussions with Orford Township council about a camp sign on Hwy # 3.
Construction on the front gate was started in 1971. The steel Bridge over the creek was rebuilt by Union Gas. Ken Poole, Ralph Deline and helpers moved a garage from Queen St. Chatham to its present location at the camp in 1973. In 1974 the camp gate was constructed by Rick Green and the sign came from the original Longhouse. The Longhouse was insulated by Scout groups under the direction of Ken Poole in 1974 & 1975. 1978 several new outhouses were built, 230 trees were planted around the longhouse by troop 22. A parking lot at the main gate was clear and graveled. The Snake Island hut (Rakshas Den) roof was replaced. The toboggan hill was cleared by the Longhouse. The Cataraqui Hilton was built, a new alter robe was donated by Gilwellians, & Bob Woods put the names on the buildings in 1979.
In 1980, the original Scout leader hut was removed. A new leader hut (Hilton) was built, culverts were installed in the road, and ditches were dug for drainage. The cairn and a flag pole were erected in Carwell Field and the Sertoma Club repaired the chapel. The Halfway Inn received new windows and a new chimney. The telephone lines were all put under ground along the camp road. Hydro services to the Hilton and garage were dug underground and 4 more outhouses were constructed. The old Longhouse on the hill by Clearville Rd was torn down in 1882. The toboggan hill was clear again behind McGeachy Longhouse. The Rakshas Den was moved from Snake Island at the bottom of the toboggan hill to its present location in 1983. The Halfway Inn was painted in 1987 by the rovers, the campfire benches were installed & the campfire ring was dug. Lower Thames Conservation did new bridge footing. The steel gate was installed and the trails were marked and cut in 1989.
The water agreement was rewritten with Clearville Park (Township of Orford) in 1990. Scott Hadlock donated a new sign for the main gate that same year. The Sertoma Club and the Ridge Builders repair the roof on the chapel. A new Pole Barn was built in 2000. The first Scout Canada flag was donated by Ron Raycraft and installed at the chapel by Phil Houle. In 2001 Lawrence Ribey donated a lawn mower. In 2004 the camp crest was redesigned. Water Elite donated a water cooler in 2005. The pump house was removed and capped when the water was connected to clearville well water line in 2006. In this same year the camp was awarded the Trillium Grant. It was used to replace all windows and doors in all buildings. The SM Freight golf tournament donated to help build a sports field in 2006.
In 2007 the camp committee had many new members and decisions to make. This same year the leader hut at Mongli field burnt down. In 2008 the longhouse kitchen was renovated to comply with all new fire standards. In 2008, the first memorial tree was planted by the path to Centennial Field for Scout leader Robert Dodman.
Currently the 2012 camp committee has many ideas and plans for improving the camp and making it more accessible to more youth and youth organizations. A memorial for Venturer Coltyn Mayrand, of Group #19 is being planned for this year.