June 20, 2018
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Willard Jalbert Camps are an Allagash institution

By Matthew LaRoche, Special to the BDN

The traditional Maine sporting camp experience is alive and well at Willard Jalbert Camps on Round Pond, Township 13 Range 12. The camps are nestled on the east side of the pond on a point of land called “Windy Point” in the heart of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

The state of Maine purchased the camps and the rest of the land along the 92-mile-long waterway in 1966-67. The camps then were leased back to the owner and builder of the camps, Willard Jalbert Sr., who often is referred to as simply “The Old Guide.” Willard built the first camp at Windy Point in 1941. The camps have been in the Jalbert family ever since.

The old Allagash guides have a very colorful history along the waterway. Their feats with a canoe and motor are well-documented. I have seen pictures of some of the Jalbert family going down through the rapids doing a handstand on the gunwales of a canoe. These guides could run a canoe up and down the Allagash River at any water level and took pride in their ability to do so.

There is a remnant of these river runners left in Allagash Village and the St. John Valley. Norman Marquis, who manages the camps at Round Pond, is cut from the same cloth as these old river runners. He can handle a canoe with the best of them. A trip up or down river in the bow of Norman’s canoe would be well worth the price of a guide for the day.

Actually, one of the best river runners I know is our own Trevor O’Leary, who is the Allagash ranger stationed at Michaud Farm.

The Willard Jalbert Camps are a great place to stay overnight on an Allagash canoe trip or just get away for a few days to unwind. The brook trout fishing is excellent in the spring and fall. The wildlife watching is absolutely incredible all summer long. As a matter of fact, almost every time I go to Round Pond, I see a moose with calf where the river enters the pond.

The camps are accessible only by canoe or float plane. There is no phone service or Internet. A stay at the camps is like stepping back in time to the 1950s.

Phyllis Jalbert, who is a registered Maine Guide and granddaughter of the “Old Guide,” Willard Jalbert Sr., now operates the camps.

Phyllis grew up in Fort Kent and has many fond memories of staying at the camps with her father, Willard Jr., and her uncle Bob Jalbert. Phyllis wants to see the camps operated as they have been in the past, as a traditional Maine sporting camp.

“I am very fortunate to have been able to play a part in preserving the Jalbert family legacy on the Allagash,” she has said.

To book a reservation at the camps, call Norman Marquis at 207-834-5974 or Phyllis Jalbert at 718-834-2500 or email atpj@wbhinc.com.

Allagash notes: The Allagash Wilderness Waterway management plan that will guide management of the waterway for the next 15 years will be available to view and download at http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/. Public comment is welcomed and encouraged during the public comment period. See the Bureau of Parks and Lands website for details.

Matthew LaRoche is superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

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