My Dad starting building our cottage in 1964. Prior to that we had gone to Cape Cod for a few years. We had a wonderful Shasta trailer and stayed in a park in Providence. I loved it there! The salty ocean, the sand dunes, digging for clams and the warm, warm winds. Oh and the salt water taffy! All over now. Dad had decided to sell the Shasta and build a cottage on a lot he had bought just after the war. This summer would be spent in a campsite in Muskoka,the last for our trailer. I was devastated!
This camp was about an hour away from where the new "cottage" was being built. This way my Dad could travel back and forth to the cottage construction site without needing to travel from Oakville where we lived, a 3 hour drive. My Mom, my brother and myself stayed there for the summer and Dad, well we saw him some times! He was a busy man. Working at home. working at the cottage!
The park we stayed in was no Cape Cod but it did have its attractions and our holiday there was quite unique comparatively. The gentleman who owned the campsite, a wonderful man, loved children. He ensured we were not bored. There was a petting zoo there. A swimming pool and a great playground. Sometimes he would let us ride on his tractor with him which was a great treat and instant prestige among the young crowd. This was all new to me. I had never been "Up North" before this, only "Down south".This was a land of "Pine forests" not "White beaches. This was Mosquitoes not Sand fleas. I was starting, grudgingly, to like it. Not to mention I found my first crush there. Well two actually, Mark and Brian. Well, I am a Gemini and I was only 10!
It took Dad most of the summer to build the cottage. There is no road to the land so everything had to brought over by boat and barge. He had to get a bulldozer there to level an area for the cottage and give a bit of yard space. It was a rather steep climb from the waters edge to the level area and all the materials had to be carried up there. This was a major undertaking. Finally, in late August, the cottage was ready to be unveiled. No more camp grounds, we had a cottage!
I remember our first few nights there. Dad had yet to put up the paneling on all the walls so there was only wall studs up between the bedrooms. Mom put sheets in between to give us some privacy. It was already getting a little cool at night and Dad had installed a propane heater that had an open face. At night I would watch the flames dance in the dark. It would lull me right to sleep.
One night I heard raised voices in my parents bedroom. Mom was laughing and I could hear her saying "We are being watched!". The next thing I see is my Dad, in his pajamas, chasing after some small dark thing with a broom. Curious, I got up to find my Dad was trying to catch a mouse with a broom.The mouse was obviously faster as it got away. My brother and I were laughing uproariously at the site of our Dad chasing down a mouse.I remember saying"Dad don't kill it!" We both know he wouldn't kill it. Later we learned he put down some friendly mouse traps and then took the mice by boat over to a nearby island and let them go.
Dad soon had the paneling up and the cottage finished. It was a winterized cottage so we were going to be able to go there most times during the year. We spent Thanksgiving there. We bought Skidoos and went up for our Christmas/New Years break. The next summer, right after school was out my Mom, brother and I went up to the cottage which was to be the first summer of many "up north, at the cottage". The saga of cottage life had begun.