By DON BUDGE (2002)
MEMORIES OF LAC DES ILES
A few years ago I was asked by Cathy Plaskett to write about some of my memories of Lac Des Iles. Getting to it has taken longer than I thought. I spent 30+ years there with so many good times and wonderful memories with the "Lake Family". The ones I'm writing about are mostly from the late forties, the fifties and the sixties.
My Great Uncle Don Budge wrote the "History of Lac Des Iles in 1965. It is a fascinating story. The challenge of getting there first by train to St Jerome and later by train to Ste Marguerite and then a two hour trip by horse and wagon on rough roads – the lumbering beginning – and the YMCA connection – Ross, Budge, Mott, Calhoun and Tees and the beginning of all the Lake traditions.
Maybe I should start with him. He was the youngest of 7 children and lived in the house on the site of a house now owned- by Hugh Blakely. One sister [Aunt Gert or Gammy] married George Ross and lived in the "Big House" [now the Gagnon's]. Another [Aunt Effie] married Charlie Calhoun and lived in the Nancekivell's house and another [Auntie Flo] married Harold Griswold and lived in the house my Mum and Dad bought in 1948 [now the Taits] and which was the site of the original house built on the property by my Great Grandfather - D.A.Budge in 1890.
Uncle Don always had a big smile, often with a pipe in his mouth. He loved to talk and tell stories and was especially interested in each of the Lake people. He was at his best at the SUNDAY CHURCH SERVICE at the Big House where he was the organist – a pump organ – and could he play.
Everyone came to church. By canoe, rowboat, motorboat, by car and by foot. All dressed in their Sunday best. The little kids sat on the stairs and two of them were lucky enough to be asked by Gammy to take collection. Older kids sat on the top of the stairs and could escape to the upstairs when the service bored them. And the very old kids sat in the dining room behind the enormous two sided stone fireplace. The adults sat in the living room or, when it was full, on the porch. The service wasn't over when the music stopped. The best part was the chatting and planning for the week ahead that went on on the porch and front lawn before everyone left for home. I must say that Gammy was the boss – at least on Sunday – no waterskiing until after church, no tennis too and no excuses for missing church.
After church we went home for Sunday dinner, the best meal of the week and the desert was always homemade ice cream. My brother Peter and I had to get a block of ice from the ice house, clean it in the lake, put it into a potato sack and break it up with the back of an axe into very small pieces for the hand ice cream "machine". Then we would take turns cranking until my Mother's ice cream recipe turned into the real thing. My favourite was peach.
Sunday wasn't a workday. No splitting firewood, filling woodboxes, painting, cutting grass, gardening, raking the driveway and so on. So we swam, played horseshoes, played games and tennis. Well some people played tennis as it was the Ross court and Gammy's rules were that only the adults could play on Sunday afternoon.
[I think because the men were working during the week.] Her rules were also that the last people playing must drag, roll and sweep the clay court before leaving. Peter and I played lots of tennis and probably have the time record for cleaning the court.
Initially WATERSKIING wasn't allowed on Sunday but, in time, that changed. Around 1949 Hugh Garland got a 22 h.p. Johnson or was it Evinrude, a boat and some skis. The skis were just boards bent at the front end with rubber harnesses made from tire tubes. With Leafy Garland we started skiing. Then my Dad bought a boat and the Garland 22 h.p. motor and, in the end, we had a 35 h.p. Johnson. Over the years we skiied forwards, backwards and sideways on two skis and on one ski usually hanging on with our hands but sometimes with just a foot. We even entered competitions and learned to jump on the pond opposite what was Cochands on the road between Ste Marguerite Village and the Station.
There were few rules then. Often there was only the driver in the boat [It went faster], and the skier wore a life belt not a jacket. We always went through the Mott straits [The challenge of avoiding the rocks] and, when finishing, coasted into the dock or diving board trying not to get wet or hurt. Fortunately times have changed. The motors were noisy too and going much of the day. That all kids got a chance to ski probably kept parents complaints at a minimum. Albert Nixon would often comment about those crazy Budge boys who would ski around every foot of the shoreline just as the ice was forming and without wetsuits. Did we have fun? You bet we did.
Three waterski stories come to mind. The first was learning to start on one ski off the diving board on the Garland wharf. Some of us managed it but not without a lot of pain as the diving board was 10 feet above the water. Timing was everything. The second was teaching the " I can do anything" newcomer to ski. We would put him on the short trick skis that had no fins and watch him slip slide away. And the third was all about Tony Mott. Tony is the middle of three boys [Peter and Andy] and in the old days had a bit of a weight problem. The challenge was to get him up on water skis. None of the boats were strong enough unless Tony did everything right and he never did. So we'd get him to sit on the end of a canoe with someone in the back and hold on to the rope and, when everything was moving at full speed, to stand up. It usually worked. I think Tony even mastered one ski. And just to amuse us while waiting his turn he would cannonball off the boathouse roof. Tony was a big hit
CANOEING was a big part of our lives and we all got pretty good at it. We paddled to get the mail every night. Peter and I, Hadg and Duncan Ross, Don Ferguson, Bob and Ann Sedgwick, Bob and Scott Bromley, Bob and Weir Ross, Peter and Tony Mott, Anne and Peter Johnson, Chris and Leila Bose, Sheila Smith, Leafy Garland and Bob and Gerry Gilmour were some of my vintage. We left our canoes at Trudels and walked up the hill to Trois Coin — the Post Office — where Rose called out our name if we had mail. We often bought a 5 cent pop there. For me it was usually cream soda. Then back to Trudels to play the slot machine. Occasionally we would walk over to Chartier's dance hall and play the juke box. I will always give Sheila Smith an "A" for trying to teach me to dance and myself an "F" for execution.
Each summer we would organize a one day canoe trip. Starting at our house we would paddle to Lac Charlebois, the Bras Est, Ste Marguerite Village, Lac Masson, Lac Du Nord, Lac Croche and home for a big swim. Great fun — 3 or 4 canoes and about 12 of us. One year we were surprised rounding a bend on the Bras Est to find a young bare naked lady sunbathing. I bet she was surprised too.
Canoeing was a big part of the annual REGATTA which was almost always held in our bay. The buoys were kept in our boathouse so I often had to position them on the course which gave me the advantage of thinking I, knew the shortest distance. Then
George Winters with his son Hugh and Ricky Garland put permanent markers in through the ice with exact measurements — so much for my advantage.
Dr and Mrs Johnson were always a threat in the mixed doubles canoe. Bob Calhoun in the singles. Harvey Leathem consistently won the most innovative dive award in his 1928 bathing suit. Bob and Scott Bromley and Bob Ross were awesome swimmers. Later on Leafy Garland and I challenged in the doubles canoe. And even later I did with my wife Ann. Ed Bromley, John Ross and Art Nancekivell were the judges. And then it was on to the tiny kids races and the awards on the Big House lawn. Lac Des Iles pennants and chocolate bars. Sometimes the spelling was "Iles" and sometimes "Isles".
Another important part of Lac Des Iles were the LOCALS. Madame Perreault lived in the house opposite the beginning of Mott's road [now Rue Daviault]. I believe she was one of 21 children and had lots of her own but still found time to do laundry for us and others. We picked blueberries in the fields behind her house. Madame Grenier lived in St Emile now Entrelac. She also did laundry but in the winter she would hook picture rugs from fabric scraps in the Quebec tradition. We have four of them. All treasures.
She did many scatter rugs as well and we have many of them — again all treasures. She didn't speak much english and I didn't speak much french but we had wonderful conversations. As Aunt Kay Leathem once wrote "language differences there may have been but love and affection were always present" this was true of all the locals. I believe the permanent residents — the locals — thought the summer residents were rich and I suppose we were relative to them. But in so many ways they were rich themselves.
And then there were the brothers Henri and Emile Riopel. Both spent many winters in Northern Quebec lumber camps to earn almost enough money to tide them over for the summer months. It probably would have been enough but both enjoyed a drink or two. Eventually Emile married Gaby and almost stopped drinking but Henri never did. One New Year Ann and I went to midnight mass in St Emile and Henri was sitting outside the church door not knowing what year it was but giving us his usual warm smile. Both did odd jobs for us and did them well.
But the best were the Heberts — Rene, Marguerite and their daughter Lisette. They lived on the other side of the main road between our house and the Big House. Rene did everything — opened and closed the house, built docks, painted, got firewood, shoveled snow and on and on. Marguerite cleaned and did other jobs in the house. They were hard workers and always the most pleasant people to be with. I think the going rate was 75 cents an hour. Rene had two horses for dragging the wood in from the bush in winter. Occasionally we would go up and ride them with Leila Bose. Leila was from India and she knew horses. Riding bareback hanging on to the mane was her idea of fun but never mine. She loved snakes too and took some delight in teasing us with them.
Not everyone who had a cottage at the Lake was able to enjoy it in the WINTER. Fortunately we were. To be there at Christmas, New Year's and Easter was very special. Our very best family Christmas' were at Lac Des Ties. Around Thanksgiving, to get ready, we would bring in the Quebec furnace and place it in the middle of the living room. Then fill up the wood cupboards and put extra wood on the porch. This was a big house made with wood siding with no insulation and no basement. About five days before we arrived at Christmas Rene Hebert would start the wood stove in the kitchen and the Quebec furnace. It took that long to warm things up so that there was no frost on the inside of the big picture window in the living room and to get the water going. When we arrived we first had to shovel spaces for the cars at the main road at the end of the driveway and then carry everything down the hill to the house. One year, to save work, I brought all the wine in before the snow in November. The result was a big surprise at Christmas to find that all the corks had popped and two bottles broken.
We cross country skied a lot both on the lake and on snowmobile trails over to Lac Croche where we would sometimes meet George and Joan Winters. In the late sixties and early seventies our young daughters Susan and Heather would join us all on wood skis with three pin bindings and Jack Rabbit wax, bamboo poles and wearing knickers. Thirty years later we're still at it but going much faster, with better equipment and mostly on groomed trails. We often shoeshoed as well. In fact when the snow was really deep it was the only way to get around. Remember the regatta, well we needed lead weights to anchor the buoys. They were shaped in a half moon and made great curling stones when we had clear ice.
At Easter we would shovel a big hole in the snow for our lawn chairs and, with the help from reflectors, get a great sun tan. No sunscreen in those days. But there was work too. Getting cars to start took a lot of time as did shoveling snow and keeping the fires going. Water came from a winter well under the house with a hand pump in the kitchen which meant lots of pumping and time spent thawing the line taking care not to burn the house down. Driving was sometimes a challenge. I remember lots of snow, slippery roads and getting stuck but those were good days.
We had an OUTHOUSE. A two seater well equipped with Eaton's catalogues and decorated with cedar boughs. It was probably the best outhouse on the lake. We later found out it was on Uncle Al Ross' property but no one cared.
My favourite Lake tradition was the requirement to swim the DISTANCE before going in a boat alone. The distance was from the tip of Mott island to the Big House wharf about 250 yards. Wendy Ross and Patsy Winters did it when they were five and our daughter Susan wasn't far behind. Those that completed the distance were rewarded with a chocolate bar usually thanks to Uncle Curt Ross who lived in the Big House. Not many know about the rock half way through the distance that you could stand on when the water level in the lake was very low. It's probably still there.
I don't have any memories of TV at the Lake but I sure do of GAMES. While we spent a lot of time swimming, water sking, diving, canoeing, tennis and fooling around in big and small motor boats we spent just as much time playing games. Games like monopoly — I think Hadg Ross had a PhD in monopoly before he was 15; tennis — I wish I could serve like Bob Bromley; cribbage on Uncle Don's board; croquet on the lawn of the original Mott's mainland house; scrabble; jigsaw puzzles made in New York in 1935 of wood and we still have them; horseshoes; hearts and finally golf at a nine hole course carved out of the woods at Ste Marguerite where Tony Mott would always hit them straight and I seldom did so he always beat me even though he didn't let me count my strokes for lost balls.
In the late sixties I started to do some RUNNING. I remember running around Lac Croche before there were roads and around the Lake on a hot summer day. It's exactly 10 miles. I also remember Tony Mott running up and down the Mott road before running was fashionable to get in shape so he could make the high school football team and I'm sure he did.
For a few years we would PICNIC on Duck Rock which was somewhere in the middle of the lake near the Twin Sister Islands. My mother and brother and Aunt Puss Ross, Bob, Weir and Jimmy. There was barely enough room for us all but a fun outing.
One year a bunch of us walked around MILE ISLAND with Hugh Garland who was scouting the possibility of developing the island with a bridge connection on the far side of the lake. Another outing, to get away from the noise of the motor boats and experience some peace, was to LAC CROCHE where we even caught trout. In those days it was mostly owned by the Ross'. They kept a rowboat on the shore but over time it leaked so badly that we had to portage our canoe. Often Ann, my wife, reminds me that she is the only one in our family to catch a trout in Lac Des Iles. Ironically the Lake got it's start in 1888 because you could catch 100 trout in an evening.
My mother was a fabulous cook. We always ATE well. But outside our home I especially remember eating pancakes at Uncle Don, Aunt Jennie and Dorothy Budge's house and barbeque steaks and hamburgers at Uncle Al and Aunt Puss Ross' home [now Harvey Cohen's].
My memories of the Lake wouldn't be complete without mentioning Uncle Bob Calhoun. He and my Dad were best friends from very early on in their lives. I think Heather,his daughter, was right in saying my Dad was the brother her Dad never had. So many people kept the Lake community alive but Uncle Bob led the way. He led the way at the Sunday Church Services, at the Regatta, at the Wexford Association and with the greater Lac Des Iles community of cottagers around the lake. But beyond that he took a very keen interest in each of us, so generous of his time and talent and he was an awesome cheerleader. I hope he knew how important he was to this community. "Atta boy" Uncle Bob your legacy lives on. It's alive and well. This is for you.
November 2002 Don Budge
13 Oneida, RR#4 Coldwater, Ont LOK 1E0
ph  835 3318
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ASSOCIATION DU LAC DES ÎLES D'ENTRELACS
46 chemin du lac Violon
Entrelacs (Québec) J0T 2E0
HISTOIRE DE L'ADLIE
SPORTS ET PASSE TEMPS
NAVIGATION DE PLAISANCE
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