A Moment in History
Below are some stories of the development and construction of the
reunion grounds by and about those people who have left us this wonderful legacy.
Early in the 1960’s, a work party was in progress at Monetville. At this time the grounds were just a clearing partially carved out of the forest area. I (Carl Bolger) was delayed in arriving at the grounds due to a work commitment. I arrived late in the morning around the lunch hour. On arrival the only person on the grounds was Jack McCarty. The other work party participants had all left for lunch at Harold Fryers cottage further down the lake. Harold’s cabin was the lodging and place for meals. This group had left by boat.
On my arrival Jack was just completing drilling a number of holes to use for removal of some rock that was in the way of building the Cafeteria and cookhouse. Jack was diamond driller at that time and had experience with drilling and using explosives in the mines in Northern Ontario. On my arrival Jack said that seeing I was there now we could load the drill holes and blast the rock as no one was around except us. John Bradley, the Church Appointee was in charge of the work party and had told Jack not to use any explosives to blast when he was alone. John was very nervous with this work. Seeing I was now there and we could blast with no one present Jack felt it would be a good time to complete this task as no one was around.
Jack and I loaded the holes with the explosives and then set them off. No doubt this explosion could be heard for quite a distant along the lake. After the explosion was finished Jack and I took my car and proceeded to drive to the Fryer cabin for some lunch.
John Bradley on the other hand, heard the explosion, and knowing that Jack had been alone and was not to blast the holes while alone, jumped into the board and made haste for the campground. On his arrival there was no one in sight and only a few rags hanging in the limbs of the trees. Fearing the worse John was sure Jack had blown himself to who knows where.
Shortly we either returned to the grounds or John had made his way back to the cabin where he was profoundly pleased to see Jack. He commented that he did not know whether to hug us or kills us both. He then made an executive decision that regardless of how the Cafeteria would look, level or not, there would be not more blasting while he was in charge. Fortunately I guess the blasting Jack had done was sufficient.
I also recall the work parties that included my dad, Pat Bolger, and Harvey Wagg, Harold Fryer and many of the Shepherdson family and many others. My dad who worked for Northern Telephone was able to borrow a wood chipper and we used the chipper to chip up the brush that was cleared from the grounds. It was amazing to see the many talents being put to work as the grounds begin to take shape. I remember wading through waist deep water to get to the grounds in the spring time. Some of the early camps were pretty sparse and folks rented the many cabins in the area and tents were used for many of the activities.
Carl Bolger, Victoria BC
When the call came to the Manitoulin for help with the beginnings of the chapel building - four men rose to the occasion from Providence Bay. They were Reg Dewar, Lloyd Hopkin, Ivan Lanktree and Keith Sterling.
Leaving their families behind to milk the cows and do the farm chores, they went with chainsaws, axes and chains for skidding the logs out of the bush with a horse. Harold Fryer had all the trees marked that were straight and tall and held their shape to the top. These men were responsible for cutting the trees down and skidding the trees out to the skidway so that the trucks could haul them to the lakefront for peeling. My dad, Reg Dewar, told me that it was a tough job getting the bark off. They ended up watering the logs in the lake so as to help the bark come off easier. He said it helped a little. These men returned to work camp another time to continue the work on the chapel.
I believe the first camp was in 1958 as we came across by boat to the point. “Boy, what a reception!” Nothing was there except and old trail which we pitched an old tent on. I will never forget how cold we were at night. No mattresses and just blankets that e had brought, for covers. We called our tent - General Grant’s tent - because it looked like it had been shot through with a canon. We plugged the holes with leaves and pine cones. We stuffed socks and anything else we could find in the holes of the tent just to slow down the mosquito advance. One camper said the mosquitoes were so big he wrestled one to the ground but he got away. Another camper said he saw a mosquito mating with a partridge. That year we lost a lot of blood and sleep too, but had a joyous time. We loved it when Red Butler combed out “Joey” - his little Goatee, early in the morning at callisthenics before breakfast.
After the second year, as I remember, a huge black army tent was set up. It was about 50’ long and 10 or 12’ wide with 4 big logs holding it up. After the logs were in place, they were chained at the peak of the big tent. There was a hole at the top, open to the sky, so I would scamper up the poles and put the flaps over the holes to keep the rain out and it seemed that we had a lot of rain that year. The huge canvas smelling army tent had flaps at each end and for a while we ate at one end and slept at the other end. For a few years after that, we had platforms to put our tents on, with trenches dug to keep the water away from the platform. Before the platform years, we used to get drowned out from the heavy rains and ended up in the one end of the dining hall as there were no other buildings to go to.
The camp directors were always special and the craft leaders were awesome. My father would always let my brother Darrell take us to camp. The car was always available for church camp. As a young teenager I fell in love with Edith Pessah. She was an angel. Her husband, Dave Pessah would smell the mail envelopes that came in the mail to camp. That was a special teasing time at the dinner table. We didn’t realize it then, but these leaders would spend their evenings sorting out problems such as water in tents or electrical problems, or whatever....after we were asleep. So many older folks really sacrificed for us.
The food was always delicious and there was lots of it. Charlotte Mercer would dress up crazy and bring the tractor and wagon down to the camp for a wagon ride for everyone. The cooks really were terrific - up early every morning and cooking late into the night.
A good time was imminent at swim time. However, one time we had a close call when using the buddy system. Raymond Lc Chapelle nearly drowned heading for shore from the raft and Wayne Grey, who was just arriving on the shore, saw Ray struggling and went back to save him. They both nearly drowned but Vere Shute and his other life guards saved them both. We sat with Ray all night with hot water bottles around him as he was in shock for some time after the incident. We had prayers for him constantly until he recovered.
Thank you for giving me a chance to share a few of my stories about Noronto.
Faithful Pine Tree
Tall and stately Pine Trees,
Like sentinels, you stand
Beside your kin
Who gave their lives
So we could have
A Chapel grand.
We gratefully acknowledge
The sacrifices made
The wwork that’s done
Has blessed this place
Thank you, Faithful Pine Trees,
For living large and strong;
May we too,
Be faithful, tru,
Our whole lives long !
Noronto Reunion 2010
The oldest pine trees on this campground
remind me of the ones who came first,
with a vidion, and built this place. Like
those tall trees, their love is with us still.
The medium sized trees make me think of
those of the present, who keep it going;
Each one making their contribution of
Time, effort, finances and especially
Their loving sacrifices, as they generously
Give of themselves
The smallest trees are the youngsters,
Bursting forth, fresh with youthful enthusiasm,
Feeling free, taking it all in...making memories.