Contact Us:
Phone: (218)663-7150
Fax: (218)663-7980
Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter

9/03/15 - Everyone is coming up to visit Sawbill this Labor Day weekend- even the wildlife! In the past few days, we've had sighting reports of a bull moose, wolf, and bobcat near Sawbill, although completely outside of our store and campground areas. Unfortunately, the animals didn't feel the need to stop for a photo shoot as they were busy minding their own business so no pictures were taken. The best time to try and see wildlife is around dusk and dawn- the bull moose and wolf were both sighted on the trail before 8 am. And of course, if you happen to get pictures of some of our furrier locals, we'd love to see them. - Britta

This Spotted Tussock Moth caterpillar was a little easier to capture on camera, especially since it decided to hitch a ride on Ana's arm.

9/02- Last Saturday night, lucky Sawbill campers were able to peer out of their tents and view the smoky orange supermoon lighting up the sky above their heads. A supermoon is when the moon is in its closest orbital position to Earth and also is full, resulting in a moon that is brighter and larger seeming than normal. Coming up this month is the very rare occurence of a lunar eclipse during a supermoon, which is set to happen on the night of September 27th. The last time these two events coincided was in 1982. - Britta

The supermoon peaking out from behind some pine trees.

8/28/15 - This Friday, Sawbill is having a flashback with former crew members. A number of former crew are back at Sawbill working, either for another season, or just for a few days while they visit. It's great to see what's going on in their lives now, and their help is always appreciated. Of course, if seeing pictures of the wonderful time the crew is having in the roll and put pile inspires nostalgia in any other former crew, come up and visit! You're always more than welcome here. - Britta

From left to right- Top: Brian, Nils John with Roy, Cindy, Ana, Jessica and Britta. Bottom: Buck and Andy with Phoebe. Photo credit to Claire.

The former crew members have some fun and laughs in the roll and put pile.

8/25/15 - Although our Kevlar canoes are much lighter than the more traditional wooden and aluminum canoes, the idea of wearing a fifty pound watercraft as a hat still daunts some people. However, we had one undaunted customer this week by the name of Hattie, an enterprising youth who wanted to carry the canoe by herself. She needed a little help getting the canoe up, but after that, she was ready to hit the trails with her new piece of headgear! As Hattie shows, one of the most important parts of exploring the BWCA isn't your age or experience, but your attitude. -Britta

With her canoe cap and warm clothing, Hattie is properly attired for adventure. Photo by Brian Henry.

8/21/15 - Tom Doremus, long time Sawbill canoeist, sent along this note and picture today:

Hi Sawbill,

I was going through my dad's things (He passed way last year), and found this. I thought it was cool. Don't know if you guys still have such a thing.

He did love Sawbill and the boundary waters, and so do I. I hope to see you later in Sept.

Tom Doremus

My dad, Frank Hansen, created these certificates back in the '70s. He gave them to people who experienced a lot of bad weather on their trip. We still use the embossed canoe on our stationary, although without the gold leaf. - Bill

8/20/15 - We recently received an email from Steve Gendron, who has been volunteering to count loons for the Minnesota Loon Watch, a program through the DNR, for over 20 years. He became well-known by the crew when his dog Bode went missing on his annual loon-counting trip. Below is his email, along with a picture he attached.

Hello Bill and the Sawbillians. Sorry for the slow response on the results of the loon counting, but here goes: Sawbill lake 4 adults, 1 juvenile, Smoke Lake 2 adults, Flame Lake 0, and Burnt Lake 2 adults.

Included is a photo of our dog Bode, who of course ran off from us on the Burnt lake portage June 29. Bode spent 10 nights in the BWCA/Superior National Forest before going into a campsite at Nine Mile Lake, 25 to 30 miles away from where we lost him. Since his return to us, he's become friends with many dogs at "doggie day care" in Minneapolis and is learning basic commands and social skills- mooching cereal, lounging on furniture, and wearing sunglasses and "chilling".

Thanks again for all the assistance we received,
Steve Gendron


Thanks for the email, Steve! We're glad to hear Bode is doing so well. - Elena

8/18/15 - During the summer there are many opportunities to hear music informally at Sawbill - customers often bring musical instruments to play by the fire or down by the lake. In addition to more casual concerts, there are two Sawbill-sponsored events where customers and crew members come together to listen to quality, local music.

First is the Dome Dance, held this year on August 2nd. Crew members give the old dome a good sprucing up and everyone is invited for live music and dancing! If you don't consider yourself a good dancer, don't worry - there's a caller and if you can follow directions, you'll do just fine.

Partners swing down the aisle during the paddle dance

Ladies waiting in line

A former crew member is carried away during the paddle dance

The second musical event is the Songwriter Circle, hosted by award winning musician Jerry Vandiver. Jerry, who hails from Nashville, has recording credits on more than 15 million records, including songs with Tim McGraw, The Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Greenwood, and more. His songs bring together two of his passions, music and canoeing, with classics such as "Camp Coffee" and "Rocks and Roots."

Crew member Logan Sheets joined Jerry, Frosty (a former crew member) and Bill for a few songs.

Olive, another crew member, sang a sweet song called "Emmylou"

Logan and Olive were then joined by a third crew member, Claire, and performed "Sittin' on the dock of the bay," which should have been "Sitting on the dock of the lake"- Elena

8/17/15 - We've had a couple of nice notes from Sawbill canoeists.

Adam Lindquist sent along this beautiful photo of a solo canoeist ending their trip at the Sawbill Lake canoe landing.

Photo by Adam Lindquist.

We are privileged to meet so many interesting people here at Sawbill and Adam sure falls in the interesting category. Aside from his real job as an investment banking consultant, he is a well known Teddy Roosevelt impersonator. Check out his cool website at:

Gary Hamer sent us this link to a slide show of his recent canoe trip starting at Kawishiwi Lake. Thanks Gary! - Bill

8/11/15 - I am pleased to announce the arrival of my first grandchild, June Felix Williams, on 8/8/15. Babe, mother and father are all doing well. I'm looking forward to many canoe trips with June! - Bill

Ruthie (Hansen) Williams and June Felix Williams.

8/8/15 - One of the highlights of working at Sawbill is hearing all the stories customers tell when they get back from their trips. Even better is when those stories are accompanied by pictures. Here are a few we received in the last two weeks.

Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 11.24.48 AM.png
Jim Behm took this picture of a young bull moose swimming across Brule Lake

Jim also snagged this great shot of a toad

- Elena

8/4/15 - As some of you may remember, earlier this summer we found ourselves short one crew member. We are excited to introduce our newest crew members - apologies to them for taking so long to do so!

Phil Lindgren was with us earlier this summer, working only a few days each week. We are thrilled to have him with us full time now!

Megan Price, sister to crew member Lindsey Price, studies at UW-Stevens Point (where Lindsey also goes). Megan has caught on amazingly fast and is an invaluable asset to our crew.

So, with the arrival of Brian (known around this neck of the woods as "Mongo"), who worked here last summer, our crew is complete!

So happy to have our whole Sawbill Family here!

Crew plus a few close friends/former crew members.

In addition to our paid crew members, we are lucky to have our intern Alex with us this week. Alex is Sawbill's youngest unofficial crew member (9 years old!), but one of the most helpful. He is always willing to help, eager to pad his resume for when he can officially apply for a job.

One of Alex's favorite jobs is using the pressure washer to clean life vests or crazy creek chairs.

In a couple of years, Alex may be able to graduate to using the big pressure washer for canoes! - Elena

7/30/15 - Working at Sawbill provides myriad opportunities for adventures. Crew members definitely take advantage of living in such a beautiful place by exploring their summer home in different ways.

One popular way to use time off is to go on trips - it seems that despite being around together almost every minute of every day, we still like each other enough to want to spend time together in the wilderness.

Three crew members, who have christened themselves the Basement Babes due to their living arrangement, recently went on a three day trip and came back with many pictures to show and stories to tell.

The Basement Babes (L to R: Claire, Olive, Elena) before the start of their adventure.

The three women put in at Kawishiwi Lake and headed up through the burn area to Malberg where they camped for their first night. The next day they traveled along the Louse River, honing their map-reading skills, and made camp on Dent Lake. The next day, they enjoyed a floating lunch on Mesaba lake and then made their way back home through Kelso and Alton.

Sawbill crew members know how to pack light!

Some of the wildlife spotted during the trip

Another fun crew excursion is making the drive to Tofte to watch the sun rise over Lake Superior. Because the sun comes up so early these days, crew members have to get an even earlier start - leaving before 5 am!

Olive by the water

On Wednesday morning, four crew members woke up at 4:30, packed a picnic breakfast (coffee being the main course) and headed down the Sawbill trail.

Sunrise just beginning to peek over the hills.

The waves were crashing hard even before 6 am, forecasting a windy day ahead.

The spectacular view made the early wake-up worth it!

A selfie to celebrate a successful Superior sunrise! (Crew members L to R: Ana, Emma, Elena, and Olive)

What fun we have together! - Elena

7/27/15 - Christmas comes but once a year... except at Sawbill!

Each summer, in either June or July, Sawbill crew members don Santa hats, crank up holiday tunes an spend hours baking and decorating cookies for our second Christmas. On the 24th, a festive dinner is held after everyone is off work, and we exchange presents and listen to a mixed CD put together by the crew members.

This amazing Christmas tree cookie was made by Kevin, and was later devoured by some Boy Scouts.

Crew members pose with their gifts

Olive received a jar of olives, and a kiwi likeness of herself, a nod to her semester spent in New Zealand.

Cindy Lou reacts to opening her present

Even Uno got dressed up for the occasion - Logan asked him to bring good fishing.

Festivities lasted long into the night, and leftovers are still being enjoyed. Happy Holidays, however you celebrate them! - Elena

7/19/15 - Just this month Sawbill took on its youngest "intern" - Alex Lundgren, age 9.

Alex has been coming to Sawbill since he was a baby, and has wanted to work for here for just about as long. He was promised a job just as soon a he turned nine, which he did earlier this year. Alex came up for a week, and was nice enough to let his parents tag along while he "worked."

This summer, Alex received training in working the store desk and washing life jackets. When he and his parents come later this summer, he may graduate to washing tents!

Alex learns to play cribbage during a quiet night in the store - all Sawbill crew members are required to know how to play cribbage, and Alex is determined to have a strong application when he is able to apply for a real job - only nine more years!

We loved having Alex with us (as did the customers) and are eagerly anticipating his return. - Elena

7/16/15 - Sawbill crewmembers have a pretty sweet deal when it comes to vacation days. Instead of taking regularly scheduled days off each week, we can allow those days to accumulate and take longer periods of time off. Some use those days off to go home and visit family and friends, but the majority of Sawbillians prefer to use their vacation days for another purpose - crew trips!

So far this year, we have had two all-crew trip as well as a few crew-plus-friends/family trips. These trips not only give crewmembers time to relax and have fun, but also helps crewmembers to turn first-hand experience into good advice when customers ask for recommendations.

The first crew trip was made up of crewmembers Claire, Logan, Kevin, and Olivia

Both groups this year put in at Brule Lake, and visited several lakes including Winchill, Long Island, Frost, Ogema, Hub, and Cherokee.

Full moon over Frost Lake. Photo by Emma Nelson.

The second group, who dubbed themselves ELLA due to their collective first initials (Emma, Lindsey, Laura, and Ana) pose with dinner from their first night

Beautiful sunsets were enjoyed by all - Elena


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