Lakes Region Profiles — War and peace on Lake Winnisquam

By Mary O'Neill

Two large forces of Native Americans, one comprised of a local alliance of Pennacook and Pequaket and the other of Mohawk warriors, came head to head in a terrible battle on a narrow isthmus protruding into the lake. The Mohawks had attacked the alliance, then feigning retreat had hidden themselves and their canoes behind the isthmus. They ambushed the other force and a fierce battle raged. The Mohawks completely annihilated their enemy (Rhode, "History of Belmont").

Looking out over peaceful and beautiful Lake Winnisquam on a sunny day, it is hard to imagine this as the setting of the famous 1685 battle. Even the lake's name is said to mean "pleasant waters," which seems to suit it perfectly. The isthmus of land referred to in the account was Mohawk Point, which is now Mohawk Island in the southern portion of the lake beyond the Winnisquam Bridge. The island is said to have been once connected to the mainland by the isthmus, which was submerged when the Lockmere dam was constructed and the lake level rose. If you look at a map of the area, it is easy to see the formation of the island having been connected to the Belmont side of the mainland.

Each of the bodies of water in the Lakes Region begins to take on a personality as you explore it. And Lake Winnisquam is no exception. The lake covers 4,264 acres and is the fourth largest lake in New Hampshire. The towns of Belmont, Sanbornton, Laconia, Tilton, and Meredith surround it. The maximum depth is around 150 feet and the average depth is 52 feet. Winnisquam is about 10.5 miles long by 1.5 miles wide and has a shoreline of approximately 28.2 miles. There are five islands: Pot, Three, Hog, Loon, and Mohawk, the scene of the legendary battle.

Winnisquam is an integral part of the Lakes Region's watershed. Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham flows into the Merrymeeting River and then Lake Winnipesaukee. Winnipesaukee flows into Paugus Bay through the Lakeport Dam and into Lake Opechee in Laconia. Opechee then runs through another dam in downtown Laconia and into Lake Winnisquam. Winnisquam leads into Silver Lake and through the Winnipesaukee River, which joins the Pemigewasset River in Franklin to form the Merrimack River. Eventually, the waters end up in the Atlantic. Like the other lakes in this region, Winnisquam is fed by natural springs, which help sustain the quality of the water. The freezing of the lakes during the winter months also regenerates the water before the spring and summer seasons.

On the shores of Winnisquam is expansive and scenic Ahern State Park. Walking trails lead through tall pines to the lake and there is a natural sandy beach for swimming. Public Bartlett Beach on Winnisquam Avenue in Laconia has a nice stretch of sand to relax and take in views of the hills of Sanbornton and Meredith. A State boat launch on Water Street in Laconia offers two ramps, a floating dock, and is handicap accessible. Several marinas dot the shoreline. Throughout the year there are a variety of activities aside from swimming, waterskiing, tubing, and wakeboarding. The sandbar by the Winnisquam Bridge is a popular spot to drop anchor and enjoy the sunshine. Every year on the 4th of July there is a boat parade that runs from Pot Island to Mohawk Island and back. Boats are decked out in all kinds of regalia – from pirate ships to water balloon slingshots – and each year a prize is awarded for the most creative display.

For those of you who refer to Winnisquam Bridge as Mosquito Bridge, have you ever wondered how it got its name? The first "Winnisquam Bridge" was a wooden structure built between 1840 and 1844. It was commonly known as Mosquito Bridge, apparently not because the area was mosquito infested but because the bump in the middle of the bridge resembled the back of a mosquito.

Winnisquam is an excellent fishing lake and one of the top destinations in the state for fishermen. Tournaments are a common occurrence. The cool waters of this glacially-formed water body harbor a multitude of species. Clear waters, a rocky shoreline, and sandy bottoms attract small and largemouth bass. The state has also designated Winnisquam as a trout and salmon lake. These species reproduce naturally but are also stocked. In the summer, salmon and lake trout are usually found about 20 to 40 feet down under the thermocline, which is when warmer waters form a distinctive layer over colder layers of water. Native Americans called lake trout "namaycush," meaning, "dwellers of the deep." Winnisquam is also stocked with rainbow trout. Other species include white and yellow perch, cusk, horned pout, black crappie and occasionally pickerel. Gear and bait can be purchased at a variety of local shops including Winnisquam Market & Deli on Route 3 at the foot of Winnisquam Bridge and Martel's Bait & Sport on Winnisquam Avenue.

Many communities provide access to the lake. Waldron Bay in Meredith has about 3,500 feet of shoreline along Winnisquam. There are 61 individual homes on lots varying from 1 to 10 acres. The 344-acre community is surrounded by conservation land. Residents enjoy a private sugar-sand beach, large clubhouse, tennis court, canoe and windsurfer racks, and 21 boat slips. Wildwood Village in Laconia, designed by award-winning architect Claude Miquelle, offers 8 individual floor plans with designs ranging from 2 to 3 story townhouses to single level duplex homes with attached garages. Each home has rights to a private 350-foot natural sand beach framed by a landscaped setting encompassing a boat launch, canoe and kayak rack, picnic area, and moorings. Mallards Landing in Belmont comprises a collection of homes directly on the waterfront. The Lord Hampshire is tucked on the shoreline by Winnisquam Bridge and is a charming collection of privately owned lakefront cottages as well as motel lodgings and cabin rentals. The sandy beach and waterfront deck provide a lovely spot to watch boats drift by. Other residential areas and communities that offer lake access include Laconia's premier Shore Drive and Holman Street neighborhoods, with rights to a beautiful association beach. A multitude of other little associates are tucked along the lake frontage of the different towns.

The shores and surroundings of Winnisquam are an unforgettable place to live or visit. The lake, its islands, and its mountain views are nature's offerings to this striking playground. The next time you drive over "Mosquito Bridge," look to the south where the famous battle between warring Native American nations took place 330 years ago, and know that peace now reigns on Lake Winnisquam.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a Realtor at Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 366-6306.

Taste of Home Cooking School comes to Gilford for big show


GILFORD — Taste of Home Cooking School culinary specialist Amy Zarichnak grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has fond memories of making potato candy with her grandmother.
That's right, potato candy, which is a mixture of mashed potatoes, powdered sugar, milk, a dash of vanilla and peanut butter which is rolled up like a jelly roll and chilled before serving.
Zarichnak took center stage at the Gilford High School auditorium last night before a sold-out crowd of 600 cooking enthusiasts and demonstrated a wide range of recipes recipes including Buffalo chicken lasagna, crepe quiche cups, chilled chicken salad with honey jalapeno vinaigrette, sausage stuffed jalapenos, and sweet and sour pork wraps.
"I was thrilled to share my cooking knowledge with those at the show," she said.
She also remembers the Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl parties of the 1970s and says that when her family moved to a blue-collar rural area where her father had bought a gas station. Her father's idea of success was eating out at a really nice restaurant, many of which were 30 miles away.
"I enjoyed the trips immensely, from seeing new scenery to watching people who were, in my mind, really sophisticated to eating what I considered a very fancy meal. Although in reality, we were just at the hotel restaurant in a Holiday Inn."
She says those trips sparked her interest in food and even though she earned a communications degree at Penn State, after studying and living in England and Ireland, she never really felt that the marketing jobs she had were like a true fit for her.
After five layoffs in five years, she says she got the feeling that "God clearly wanted me to be somewhere else." She had applied to culinary school in 2009 but wasn't able to afford it. When she got a small windfall in late 2012, she enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, where she graduated in 2014 with a 3.4 grade-point average and was also editor of the student newspaper.
She joined Taste of Home shortly thereafter and is now the Northeast culinary specialist for Taste of Home, doing about 30 shows a year.
"I love the Taste of Home brand. It's so comforting to me because it reminds me of the rural community that I grew up in, everyone sharing recipes and cooking for each other.
The show was co-sponsored by the Laconia Daily Sun and The Concord Monitor and is presented nationally by the National Honey Board, Eggland's Best eggs and the Original Copper Brand cheeses.

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Amy Zarichnak talks to a full house of 600 people at Gilford High School for the Taste of Home Cooking Show last evening. She travels the Northeast presenting about 30 shows a year. (Roger Amsden photo for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Prosecutor: Tell the jury -


MANCHESTER — A jury should know that former Belknap County Sheriffs Deputy Sgt. Ernest Justin Blanchette has been indicted elsewhere for two additional counts of rape against the same victim, said the Hillsborough North Assistant County Attorney who is prosecuting him.

Prosecutor Michael Zaino said in his motion Tuesday that Blanchette, 36, was indicted in Belknap County for two counts of raping the same victim in events that took place before the crime he is trying.

Under most circumstances, "prior bad acts" are not presented to the jury; however, Zaino said in this case it shows that Blanchette "groomed" the victim during those events.

Blanchette faces multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault for alleged sexual actions he took while transporting several different people to and from jails and courts throughout the state. He has not been convicted of anything and is free on $100,000 cash bail.

In Ziano's  pleading, he said that the jury should be able to evaluate on its own whether Blanchette coerced his victim by giving her cigarettes and allowing her to use his cell phone on Sept. 18, 2014, and again sometime in late 2014. Zaino said Blanchette knew these were things she was unable to get while in prison.

During the Sept. 18 encounter, Blanchette transported a prisoner, referred to as "BH," to a dental exam in Tilton. Zaino contends that he allowed BH to use his cell phone on her way there and she called a number of friends and family. Once there, he unhandcuffed her and allowed her to smoke one of two cigarettes she had.

After her appointment, she told police that he allowed her to sit in the front of the transport van without handcuffs. She said he started complaining about his marriage and she said she told him she wished she could have sex with her boyfriend.

She said that while in Belmont, he made an abrupt turn down a long dirt driveway to an abandoned house. She told police she thought he was going to handcuff her and put her in the back of the van, so she walked in that direction.

Once at the back of the van, she said he took off his duty belt and placed it in the van. She told police she became uncomfortable and said, "Is this really happening?" to which he allegedly replied, "It could if you want it to."

In her statement to police, she said he kissed her on the lips and then exposed himself. She said the two engaged in sexual intercourse. BH told police she felt that she couldn't say no.

She told police she went to the dentist again in late 2014 and this time Blanchette allegedly provided the cigarettes and allowed her to use his cell phone. On the return trip, she said there was an accident and Blanchette stopped to assist, so there was no time for any other actions. She told police that she was relieved to get back to jail because of what had happened previously.

On July 2, Blanchette transported her from the Belknap County Superior Court to the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in Goffstown. He again provided her with cigarettes and a cell phone. Once in Bedford, she told police that Blanchette drove to an abandoned house, where they again had sex.

"During all relevant times, B.H. believed that (Blanchette) was the boss relative to his position as a sergeant in the (Belknap County) Sheriffs Department and that no one would believe her word over his."

Earlier this month, Blanchette's attorney filed a motion to allow the jury to hear a snippet of a telephone conversation recorded between her and a friend while she was incarcerated that indicated she wanted to have sex with Blanchette because he was "sexy."

Blanchette's attorney confirmed yesterday that they are scheduled to pick a jury on Monday and that the hearings on the pending motions will be heard in the afternoon. The case is being tried in the Hillsborough North Superior Court in Manchester.