LAC DES ILES.
Over the past seven or eight years many Lac des Ilers have pointedly expressed to me the wish that someone would write a short history of our Lac Community.
With the passing of Mr. Kenneth Ross and my sister, Mrs. Alice Young, I am now the last survivor of the first generation of youngsters of the two families, who, back in the eighteen eighties, founded the Lac des Iles Community. My sister Alice, who lived in
British Columbia for the past forty years or more, was seven years old when it all started and I was not thought of until nine years later.
I have hoped that someone, with the ability to write beautifully descriptive word pictures, would take this task in hand and re-create the very close to the heart feelings which have grown up for our Lac over the years.
I do not apologize for the shortcomings of my story. I have written it mostly for those who rightfully, or just by loose adoption, call me 'Uncle Don" in the hope that it may help, in some small way, to preserve the Christian ideals that have made our Lac something very special in the lives of those who have enjoyed its beauty for the past Seventy-nine years.
LAC DES ILES.
You, for whom this little story is written, need no more than the mention of the name "Lac des Iles" and vivid memories crowd their way up into your minds. Sunsets of rare beauty; mist rising off the bays; the first swim of the summer; speckled trout caught and soon frying in the pan; picnics; canoe trips; bonfires; the coloring of the leaves in the fall and the pure whiteness of the snow in the still of winter.
Or do you first remember the three generations of happy children who have grown up to manhood and womanhood, their minds and bodies developed and strengthened by their vacations at the Lac? Or do you recall the many friends, both old and new, who came for a weekend and expressed, each in his or her own way, their feelings for the Lac?
But perhaps, above all, you remember the Sunday Services with the simple and unadorned worship of God, who, in his bounty, gave us the Lac for our heritage.
To all who read, this little story is dedicated to the memory of:
Mr. and Mrs. D. W. Ross Mr. and Mrs. D. A. Budge Founders of Lac des Iles.
This is the record of an idea that took root and developed into a fact. It has a beginning but its end lies far in the future and will have to be recorded by others.
In 1886 Mr. D. W. Ross decided to go fishing, and having an interest in the Charlemagne lumber company, asked their woods boss if he could suggest a good spot. He would and could, and suggested Lac L'Original. It was later changed to Lac des Iles, where the company had a camp. He told Mr. Ross that if you were not very careful "les truites rouges" were so plentiful they would jump into the boat and swamp you and suggested adding extra boards to the sides. Now this is just the average woodsman's permissible slight exaggeration and, while not literally true, it quite truthfully meant that the fishing was wonderful.
So Mr. Ross and his three oldest sons packed their tent, grub, rods and blankets and took the train to St.Je rome, which was the end of the line at that time. From there to the Lac was by team and wagon over bush roads to the tiny Village of Ste.Marguerite, and from there to the Lac over what was little more than a bush lumbering trail.
They came, they saw, they were conquered. The Lac "got them" and the "Idea" was born. Mr. Ross was a man of far sighted vision with a great love of the outdoors, and while I do not know exactly when the idea came to life, I know it must have been working hard in 1887, for he went back to the same spot with his three oldest sons and my father and two older brothers. They camped in a small clearing beside what was called a road just opposite where Rend Hebert's garage is now. A path led down to the Lac to the landing where the lumber Company kept its boats. The Company had a bunk house and stable for its horses where Reng Hebert's buildings now stand. They enjoyed the very wonderful fishing, of those days, when anything Less than fifteen or twenty speckled trouts an hour was considered a poor catch in any of the lakes of that area.
Talking around the camp fire at night they must have decided to try to sell their wives the idea of securing lakeshore property, building cottages and bringing their families to the Lac for the summer. They succeeded and in 1888 Mr. Ross built the first cottage du Lac des Iles on the lovely point where the "Big House" now stands and called it "Sleepy Birches". My father and mother were their first quests and in 1889 Mr. Ross gave my mother the property, now occupied by Cam and Merle Budge, where my father built the second Lac house in 1890 and they called it "Tanglewood".
Both houses were of hand hewn beam frame construction with the beams morticed and tennoned and pinned with maple pins. As all sawn and dressed lumber and windows and doors had to be hauled by wagon over thirty miles, from, either St.Jerome or St.Lin, every part of the houses that could be was made of logs, cut and squared by hand on the spot. I have always wondered why they did not build log houses in the old French Canadian style.
The Lac des Iles Community was now established with two cottages and two families, each with six children. How did it operate at that time, 75 years ago? The season usually started with a fishing trip by the Fathers and
sons over the 24th. of May holiday if it fell on a weekend, and you would not believe me and I probably would not believe myself if I attempted to tell you of the catches of speckled trout made at that time: I have been told that catches of 100 or more trout, by three men in a boat in an evening's fishing, were not at all unusual.
Then would come the great day of days - the day after school closed for the summer. The bustle and excitement in the Ross & Budge city homes, from the frantic Mothers down through the children, even to the dogs, was beyond description. Well beforehand supplies of all staple foods such as barrels of flour and sugar, 50 or 100 lb. bags of rice and oatmeal or rolled oats and cases of packaged foods had been ordered from one of the old wholesale grocers on McGill Street to be shipped by freight to St. Jerome. Then the journey itself, a horse drawn cab or hack to the station, the afternoon train to St. Jerome, overnight at the Hotel, leaving there early the following morning, taking the road via St. Hippolyte, in two wagon loads, one taking the provisions and one the family.
A picnic lunch by some small stream, and then on to the Lac arriving in the late afternoon dusty or wet depending on the weather.
I wonder how many of us would have the courage to face what they did to secure for their children the wonderful opportunity of spending two months each summer in virgin, unspoiled country a full twenty four hour trip away? We should not feel too upset if we sometimes take a little over 2 hours instead of the 1-3/4 hours we usually take these days from the city homes to the Lac.
Just how did they manage to live from day to day? As I have mentioned, staple foods were brought from Montreal, but if necessary could also be had in Mr. La Jeunesse's store in Ste. Marguerite. For perishables they had to depend on the local farmers, who, seeing a market opening up, soon increased their gardens to supply fresh vegetables, enlarged their flocks of poultry to supply eggs and fowl and their livestock to supply milk and cream, lamb, veal and pork. Also either the berry crops were more abundant or the children were more willing to work in those days, for there was always an ample supply of berries in season. At sometime in the very early years, a travelling butcher started coming around once a week on Fridays. His name was Pat, he was French Irish and he drove his meat store from Chertsev as far as Gauthiers on Lac Charlebois.
Pat was quite a character, and one time that I remember he arrived on a Friday morning when my Father was there and we were having morning prayers, which was the custom in those days. As the windows were open, he could see and hear what was going on and respectfully sat down on the edge of the veranda to wait. After prayers were over and my Mother and I went out to select the meat for the week, he said to her "Sure and Mr. Budge is a damn fine prayer".
As Mrs. Ross loved flowers and gardening, they had a garden of their own just at the entrance to their road. We also had a small one in the corner of the farmer's field at the top of our own road. Not so many things came out of cans in those days, and home baked crocks of pork and beans were a must at least once a week, also all bread and baking was home made.
As far as I can learn, there were only seven settled French Canadian families around the Lac in 1889. They were Clement Daviault Sr. who had homesteaded where the Jos. Perreault farm is now, opposite the Jim Griffith road. His son Edmond had the property where Emile Perreault is now, and many of you will remember the white-washed log house right at the edge of the road where he and his wife raised their famous family of seventeen sons and daughters who, for many years, were the main source of help for the summer residents. Edmond and his wife and family were exceptionally high class people whose word was their bond. The father and sons belonged to the class of fine French Canadian woodsmen who, with an axe and a cross cut saw, could run up a good log building in no time.
He had the best horses in the district and, until the automobile replaced them, did most of the transport jobs between the Station at Ste. Marguerite and the Lac. For several years he had six horses on the road. It may surprise many of you to know that during the period from 1890 to 1910 their farm always had four to six horses, four to six cows in milk, ten to twenty sheep and six to ten pigs as well as fifty to a hundred hens. They had considerable acreage under crops of oats and hay, a fine garden, and even a half dozen apple and plum trees. Apart from sugar, flour and salt, they were self supporting. Their fields have long since grown up in scrub bush. In 1910, their revenue gone or going with the advent of the automobile, and the end of the large lumbering operations in the district where all the sons secured work in the fall, winter and spring, they left the district and moved to the new end of the line at Mont Laurier, where they started over again clearing a fine farm, on good land, out of the virgin bush.
Edmond and Mrs. Daviault have passed on, but a number of their children are in the Mont Laurier district and have done very well. I visited Mont Laurier some years ago and received a warm welcome from those of the family I could contact. Included was a wonderful fishing week-end ninety miles to the north. Only two remain in our area, Mrs. Lafond and Mrs. Aldage Grenier, whose wedding breakfast I attended in the old log house and where I first saw and ate three layer wild strawberry shortcake heaped with whipped cream
could go on for pages telling about happy days of our boyhood which Ken Romand spent in the woods and fields with the Daviault boys. You haven't tasted anything to beat slices of fresh bread, baked in an outside oven, sprinkled with scraped maple sugar and then covered with thick cream. My mouth waters as I think of that and other good things Mrs. Daviault used to give us when we came back to the house, hot and tired from play. Well, they are gone and you will not see their like again, for they belonged to a pioneering age that has passed from our district.
I think next of St. Pierre, known as Sandy because of the color of his hair. He and his family occupied the property in later years owned by Maxine Riopel and now belonging to his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Rene Hebert. Sandy was also a good dependable type but not quite up to Edmond Daviault although his farm was the best in the district. He, however, was not blessed with seventeen children, having stopped, for some unknown reason, at twelve or thirteen. They also went to Mont Laurier in 1911.
The Leroux family occupied the property at present owned by Mr. Trudel and in the early 1900's they opened a boarding house, or hotel, which eventually became owned by Faber until it burned. There were four or five sons in this family and Ludger operated the main boarding house until he died. One brother, Zotique, also had a boarding house, where Ferrier's place is now, and after his death, until it burned some years ago, it was operated by his wife. Another son was Benjamin, who built and operated a boarding house at the end of Lac Charlebois nearest to Lac des Iles. He passed on only in 1958, but one of his daughters was Mrs. Foster, whom most of you know. The story goes that Foster, an old country Englishman and a Protestant, courted and married her when he could speak no French and she no English!
West of the Leroux property, the Chartier family established a boarding house which they still operate. Continuing around the west end of the lake, there was old man Boyer who lived about where the Three Corner Hotel is now. He was a tremendously fat man whose only occupation, so far as I know, was fishing and almost any day you could find him sitting in his square ended punt, anchored off the Bert Ross point, with four bamboo poles out. If you were
too lazy to fish for yourself you could always buy fresh trout from him for fifteen or twenty cents a pound.
From Boyer's there was nothing but bush until you got around on the north side of the lake to the Lepine farm. Any fine day in summer you would find Mrs. Lepine out on her front verandah spinning wool on an old spinning wheel. The Lepines were noted for the fine quality of their maple syrup and sugar, and we always rowed or paddled across the Lac, soon after we arrived for the summer, to get a supply of these good things.
I should also have mentioned old Mr. and Mrs. Riopel whose descendants are many. They occupied the farm across the road from our property and were a colorful couple who raised a large and prolific family of children.
I think almost every French Canadian family in the district, at present, has Riopel or Leroux blood in it somewhere. Old Mrs. Riopel was an Irishwoman with a brogue straight from the old sod, a very motherly type who was kind always to little boys, as I remember her. The Griffith boys could tell you more about her as they used to paddle down to get their milk at Riopei's every night. Mrs. Riopel was the Irish washerwoman for all of us in those days, and her husband, who died a few years ago in St. Emile, at the ripe old age of 96 or 97, was the mail carrier from Ste. Marguerite to the Lac.
I think the Grenier family was settled at the north east corner of the Lac near, the dam at this time, but I have no knowledge of them.
The Village of St. Emile goes back to about 1860 and the district was originally settled by Irish Catholics and some Protestants. I have seen the minutes of the Village Council of those days and they were written in English with a strong Irish accent.
Many of you will have noticed the little white Anglican Chapel standing about two hundred yards west of Route eighteen some four miles north of Rawdon. It is called Wexford Church and originally was erected in the Township of Wexford somewhere between St. Emile and Lac Pauze.
As the Protestants left that area it was moved, first to a location on what is now Route 18 somewhere more where the road goes off to Beaulac, and later to a location a mile or so south of Chertsey, then, finally to its present location. Services are conducted every Sunday in summer and once a month in winter, by the Anglican rector of Rawdon, for the seven families of the area.
In 1890 the Ross and Budge families each had six children, in 1892 Kenneth joined the Ross family and in 1895 I joined the Budges, making a total population of eighteen for Lac des Iles. The years have taken their toll and, as I write this, I am the only survivor of the original eighteen.
What were the activities of the youngsters in those days before automobiles and outboard motors? When you wanted to go somewhere you paddled a canoe or, if you wanted to go beyond Lac des Iles, you either walked or paddled and portaged your canoe. One, two, or three day trips exploring the unknown were taken until we knew the surrounding country; Lac Comeau; Lac Archambault. Incidently I am sure that, before outboard motors were invented, Lac des Iles was at least twice as big as it is to-day.
I cannot leave this period without telling one story that will remove from to-day's youngsters any idea that their grandmothers were saintly girls. In 1891 our much loved Charlie Calhoun was courting my oldest sister, Effie, and was invited up as one of the first week-end guests in the new Cottage. He was driven from St. Jerome by one of the Leroux boys and was due to reach Leroux's about 10:00 P.M.
Effie, being a bit shy, agreed that her three sisters would row up to meet him and bring him home from Leroux's by boat. They did, about 1:30 A.M., after keeping him out on the Lac for over three hours. I imagine that Effie and my mother had a few pointed remarks for them.
THE COMMUNITY GROWS
For almost ten years, until 1899, the Ross and Budge families had the Lac to themselves, but they gladly shared it with their friends. After the Railway was extended from St. Jerome to Ste. Agathe in 1894 it became much easier of access, with only a two and a half to three hour drive from the new station at Ste. Marguerite.
Between 1900 and 1910, looking ahead to the future, Mr. Ross acquired considerable more property fronting on the Lac and also all the islands, a most fortunate thing for all of us. Thus, about 1900 or earlier, he owned from the present Dr. Robson property south and east to beyond our own place, and in 1904 bought the islands from the Crown. A little later the Rosses bought the east shore right around to the Ben Ferguson property.
Among those who were guests at our Cottage, during the decade 1895-1905, were Mr. & Mrs. John R. Mott of New York, Dr. & Mrs. A. R. Griffith, Dr. Fred Tees and Charlie Calhoun. When Mr. Ross saw the Motts' reaction to the Lac, he very kindly offered them a lot which they gladly accepted. In 1899 they built the log house which they occupied, with their family, for aver fifty years until it was destroyed by fire in 1951 and replaced in 1952. John, Irene, Fred and later Eleanor added much to the activities of the younger fry of this period.
In 1900 the Late Mr. & Mrs. George Robertson acquired land adjoining Chartiers and built the house now occupied by their daughters on the beautiful pine point. Their fine Varnished Cedar strip skiff was the envy of all who had to row heavy Vercheres boats. Mr. & Mrs. James McConaughy of Mount Herman, Mass. also acquired a lot from Mr. Ross, along with the original Ross cottage which was moved across the ice in the winter to its present location. It was replaced, on its original site, by the present "Big House" of which more will be said later. In 1902 Charlie Calhoun, having the year before acquired himself a wife in the person of Effie Budge, also acquired the lot next to the Motts. There they built a small cottage which served them until 1914, when they started a larger home made necessary by a growing family. This was completed in 1916, and no family has enjoyed the Lac more or taken a larger part in it's activities. No less than four of the children now have cottages of their own.
In 1903 Dr. & Mrs. A. R. Griffith bought their property from Mr. Leroux and became an important addition to the community with their four sons. Dr. A. R. was the great fisherman of those days and could be found, in good weather or bad, anchored off the point of Bon Repos island or some other likely spot, happy to be at the Lac whether the fish were biting or not. With four boys this cottage was a centre of activity, and Mrs. Griffith was always ready to set an extra place at the table, a fact that was well known and often taken advantage of by Ken Ross, the Motts, myself and many others. Dr. A. R. passed on in 1936 and Mrs. Griffith in 1958,
in her ninetieth year. The original home is now occupied by Dr. & Mrs. Harold Griffith. Dr. & Mrs. Jim Griffith built on the point past the Presqu'ile in 1929 and with their children are also carrying on the Griffith tradition of open house. Mr. & Mrs. Hugh Griffith, who were away from Montreal for a number of years, have recently been renting Ken Ross' original log house opposite Burnt Island.
About 1903 Mr. & Mrs. Leach bought a lot adjoining the McConaughy's (now the Robsons) and added their sons and daughters to the community. Mr. Tom Smith, whose wife was a Miss Leach, replaced the original Leach Cottage a few years ago with an attractive new home which he, his children and grandchildren enjoy.
Mr. & Mrs. Sam Milligan and Mr. & Mrs. Pratt, who were related, built on the lot between Leach and Griffith. Mr. & Mrs. Pratt moved to Western Canada a few years later and since Mr. Milligan died this property has been occupied by his son John and family.
In 1907 Mr. & Mrs. Fennel P. Turner, Mr. Turner was an associate of Mr. Mott, secured the lot on the west side of Calhoun's and built a cottate which they occupied for many years. A few years after Mr. Turner's death, Mrs. Turner found it impossible to come all the way up from her house in Nashville Tennessee and Mr. Sam Milligan bought the property. It has been occupied since by Mr. & Mrs. Allan Edson and their family, Mrs. Edson being Mr. Milligan's daughter.
Robert (Bert) Ross and his wife Kate, who have both passed on, built on the heavily wooded rocky point west of the Ken Ross property in 1908 and added their family of two boys and two girls to the growing group of young people.
Mrs. Turner brought her mother to the Lac for several summers and everyone was soon calling her "Mother John". Both she and Mrs. Turner had the most wonderful Southern drawl and the children were all called "Honey Chile" and it was "you all and we all". Mother John was a very large, stout, motherly woman, whose kindness and love of people one sensed at once. She was much loved by everyone, not least for her wonderful Southern cooking. Her cooky jar was always handy for boys who stopped by. So we find that, by 1910, the Community had grown to eleven or twelve families and a total of seventy-five or eighty persons, of whom a large proportion were children or in their teens, and the activities were many and varied. These were the days when the canoe reigned supreme and the highest aim of every youngster was to have a canoe of his or her own and become expert in its handling.
Away back in the very early days Mr. Ross, with his usual foresight, had recognized the danger of accidents to children using canoes in all weather and established a simple rule that, before being allowed to use a canoe alone, all Lac des Iles children must swim from the Ross swimming pier to the point of Flavia island opposite the Mott house. Nothing could have stimulated swimming to a greater extent, especially as it became generally established that, as soon as a boy or girl swam his or her distance father had to give them a canoe of their own. In recent years the competition has become terrific and a number have now swam their distance before reaching seven years of age. The fact that our community has never had a serious water accident is, without doubt, largely due to the foresignt of Mr. D. W. Ross.
These were also the days of the first Lac des Iles Regattas held in front of Leroux's boarding house where Ken Ross, John and Fred Mott, Percy Robertson, the Leach boys, Harold and Hugh Griffith and myself won many canoe and rowing races in competition with adults. In fact, on more than one occasion, we cleaned up almost all the events.
John Mott was our great swimmer both for speed and distance. Once, when I went with him in a boat, he swam from the Ross point, a distance of about four miles. My older brother, Gordon, entered him in the Old Grand Trunks Boating Club Swimming meet when he was sixteen. In the hundred yard event he beat such noted swimmers as George Hodgson and Frank McGill, the former was an Olympic winner for Canada.
Belonging also to this period were the great Annual Picnics held on one or other of the islands and attended by all from the youngest to the oldest. For at least two days before, every stove was busy turning out blueberry pies; cakes; cookies; bread; boiled hams and crocks of pork and beans and other good eats. Each family provided at least twice as much as they and their guests could possibly eat. At about eleven o'clock, on the Saturday chosen, everything and everybody was loaded into canoes and boats and set out for Mile, Eon Repos or Burnt Island, whichever had been selected. An advance party, of the older boys, had gone earlier to brush out a clear space and make a fire place with a good solid green maple cross stick, from which to hang pots and kettles for heating water and anything else that had to be hot. Sand and ants in the sandwiches and the odd fly in the pie were mere trifles. I am sure there were eighty or more persons at some of these great Picnics. After everyone had eaten too much, we packed up what remained and all went back to the Ross point and up to the tennis court which, in those days, was sand surfaced. Here would be held the famous Lac des Iles championship Tennis tournament for the Championship Belt. This was a great leather belt about
six or eight inches wide, of generous girth, with the words "Lac des Iles Championship" printed on it in large black letters. The great match of the day was usually between Mr. D. W. Ross and my father against Mr. Mott and Charlie Calhoun and was played with the help of many comments and much cheering. The serious intensity of Mr. Mott on his game was something to behold.
After the big game the younger set would take over and some hot and fast sets of, more or less, Davis Cup calibre would be played. Then down to the swimming pier and an exhibition of fancy diving by George and Jimmie Ross and my older brothers Edgar and Gordon. There were also some great splashes as some of the not so expert made large or small holes in the water depending on their size.
The evening meal that night, for those who could eat any more, consisted of leftovers from the picnic.
THE BIG HOUSE
Can an inanimate object have a living personality? I believe it can and "the Big House", as it has been called by all of us down through the years, has, to me, a very vivid association of memories with people. I see my father and mother sitting with Mr. & Mrs. Ross in front of the big fire place, the men talking of this and that. The two ladies would listen or discuss some subject of their own, while their busy hands worked on some knitting or needlework because their hands were seldom idle. I see Bert, George and Jimmie Ross in a corner with my older brothers Edgar and Gordon or Pete, as he was called, talking about sail boats or planning a camping trip. I see Mamie, the only Ross girl, with my sisters Effie, Alice, Florence and Gertrude probably discussing the latest style of bathing suits, which were really something to behold in those days, and Ken and I, the little boys, setting up tracks for a toy railroad. I see Mrs. Ross at the organ, the same one we still use for Sunday service, playing some song of the time which she and mother would sing together. They both sang in the choir of Christ Church Cathedral at one time. This house is overflowing with pleasant memories of Rosses and Budges and their friends.
As mentioned earlier, the Ross family and their many guests outgrew their original Cottage and, in the winter of 1901, it was moved over the ice by Edmond Daviault and his sons to its present location, between the Leathems and Smiths, where it is now occupied by Doctor Mr. and Mrs. Robson.
It was just at this time that George Ross graduated in Architecture from M.I.T., in Boston, and had won a prize with a set of plans for a Country house. When he saw them his father very proudly said, "This is the house we will build at the Lac." You are all familiar with its stately beauty set among the lovely white birches of the Point. With its spacious rooms, finished in beautiful Laurentian spruce, the fine stone fire-places and tower staircase winding up from the living room. It is surely a monument to the talent of George Ross.
The number of those, both old and young, who have enjoyed its hospitality cannot be counted. For over sixty years it has stood, with open door, the heart and centre of our Community.
Mr. & Mrs. D. W. Ross were incomparable hosts whose greatest joy was in their family and friends and their friends' families and friends. The close friendship of the Ross and Budge families was further cemented when George and my sister Gertrude were married in 1907. They took over the house after the death of Mr. D. W. Ross in 1921, Mrs. Ross having passed on in 1920, the traditional hospitality was continued all through their lifetime. Now Curt and Hester Ross have taken it over and we all know and appreciate the wonderful way they are continuing the hospitality of "The Big House".
There is no memorial plaque in memory of Mr. & Mrs. D. W. Ross but to those of us who knew them and loved them this house, and indeed our Lac des Iles Community, are living memorials to two lives that were outstanding examples of Christian ideals, lived every day without ostentation.
While this chapter has dealt largely with the Ross family, I cannot close it without saying that what I have written about Mr. & Mrs. D. W. Ross applies, without alteration of a word, to my father and mother Mr. and Mrs. D. A. Budge who passed on in 1933 and 1931 respectively. The two couples, closest of friends from their early married days, had the same high Christian ideals of living and set their mark indelibly on Lac des Iles.
The original Budge Cottage, about the same size and plan as the first Ross house, bulged at the seams and overflowed at times with the many friends who came for weekends or longer. It was finally replaced in 1936 by my sister and her husband, Mr. & Mrs. Harry Griswold, who built the house now occupied by Cam and Marg Budge.
The development of the automobile and the very slow, but gradual improvement of the woods, made possible greater use of the Lac and week-ending, in addition
to the regular summer holiday period, became possible. Many cottages were built all around the Lac and, alas, the speckled trout fishing in the district rapidly disappeared.
In our own Community the second generation and also some of the third now have houses of their own and they are too many for me to record individually.
This little story is primarily an effort to record the early years and I will leave that part of the record for someone else to compile. The consolidation of the one room schools into one central school at St. Emile has resulted in the roads being kept open all winter. Those whose houses can be kept warm are now able to enjoy both summer and winter at the Lac. Not many are making use of this yet but more will as time goes on and, after spending five successive Christmas holidays at our Cottage, the Don Budges recommend it highly. The beauty of pure white clean snow is a joy to behold after the filth of the City.
THE SUNDAY SERVICE
Picture, if you can, a flotilla of boats and canoes coming past Motts' into the bay and converging on the Ross point or towards the Budge wharf. The boys and men almost all in white ducks or flannels, the girls and ladies in ankle length dresses with great puffed sleeves, some bare headed but most with hats almost as weird as those worn today but usually much larger. Rain or shine, windy or calm, all came to the Sunday Service by water.
On a white-cap day, the Robertsons, in their varnished skiff, were envied by all those who had to row heavy, flat bottomed boats against a strong wind while they slipped through the waves so easily. Both the Ross and Budge households were strict observers of Sunday as a day of rest and the usual activities were not allowed. The only work performed by the male members being the necessary chores of carrying up the required number of pails of water, getting ice from the ice house for the home made ice box in the pantry, which at both houses, was a small separate building just outside the kitchen. There was also the stove wood box to fill and the best chore was turning the handle of the old ice cream freezer for the standard Sunday dessert. The "before breakfast dip" was the only legal swim of the day but Sunday afternoon walks to Virgin lakes provided the opportunities for extra swims without much difficulty.
In the very early 1890's the custom developed of the two families, and their guests, meeting at each house on alternate Sunday mornings for a simple service of worship.
As many of the guests were connected with the Y.M.C.A. work, which at that time laid much greater stress on the religious sphere than it does now, it became the custom to have one of them give a short talk. Our own much loved Charlie Calhoun conducted one or more
Services a summer for over sixty years. Dr. John R. Mott gave us many wonderful accounts of his work in far off lands, Mr. Turner, Mr. McConaughy, my father and many others took their turns.
Then, as now, the small fry sat on the stairs and one of my earliest memories is of Ken Ross and I inching quietly up until we disappeared from sight. We went out on the verandah roof, through a window, where we could sit and plan interesting activities. I think I missed my ice cream dessert for that but my Mother probably saved it for me to eat later, she was like that.
The building of "the Big House" was eagerly looked forward to by more than the Ross family, as the attendance at the Services had completely outgrown the capacity of the two original cottages. There were even two families, the Mathewsons and Caulfields, who came regularly by water from their camps on Lac Charlebois. Since the completion of "the Big House", in 1903, the Service has always been held there and our debt to the Ross family for this privilege goes on increasing year after year. We can only repay it by continuing the tradition they helped so much to establish. In this changing world why has this simple religious service changed so little? I remember one Saturday afternoon in the Ross bath-house after a swim, the Service for the following day was being discussed as it appeared that none of the regulars were going to be on hand to conduct it. There were five or six present, none over twenty-two or twenty-three years of age. After a few minutes of fruitless talk one of the Wildon boys turned to his particular buddy, who was just as wild, and burst our "Hell if you'll read the Bible lesson goddamit I'll say a prayer" and he was not joking. Late that evening one of the regulars arrived but it could have been an interesting Service.
Who does not carry away, each Sunday, the memory of the lovely children passing the collection plate around the room? It may well be that this participation cements them to our tradition in their later years.
In the past fifty odd years I have played the fine old organ, to the best of my limited ability, for about three hundred Services which has pretty well cemented me to our tradition. It has been a pleasure not a chore.
It would take a far abler pen than mine to put into words the meaning of the Sunday Service to our Community. Apart from the religious aspect, the fact that once a week, through July and August, we all meet together and enjoy the opportunity of personal contact with each
other has, without doubt, been the greatest single factor in making our Lac des Iles the wonderful and unique place that it is in our lives.
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ASSOCIATION DU LAC DES ÎLES D'ENTRELACS
671, rue Deguise
Entrelacs (Québec) J0T 2E0
HISTOIRE DE L'ADLIE
SPORTS ET PASSE TEMPS
NAVIGATION DE PLAISANCE
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