My family rarely went away on vacation during summers when I was growing up, but in the summer of 1972 we did. Dad, a welder, worked in the Cobalt-New Liskeard area, southeast of Timmins, Ontario, where we lived. He and his co-worker friend, Normand Gaudreau, sub-let an apartment during their time away from home.
* Photo credit: By P199 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
I’m not sure who first suggested the idea, but it was decided that Mom, my sister, my little brother, and myself would go stay with Dad for a while at his apartment and at a cottage. I don’t have any memories of that time, but I see that I entered a mention of it in the diary I kept in those days.
A month later, we went back to that rented cottage. Dad worked during the day and spent his nights and weekends with us. None of us liked being parted from him (he often worked away from home), so being reunited, even for a short while, was a treat. There doesn’t seem to be any photos of this vacation (at least none that have survived in our photo albums), but I still have some notes from my diary about our two-week stay at Portage Bay.
The campground and cottages are situated on the Montreal River, a little to the west of Cobalt, where the red dot is on the image below. (Timmins is the black rectangle on the image.)
|Map of Ontario, Canada*|
* Image credit: By NordNordWest [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Our cottage, a log cabin, was a housekeeping unit. It had some supplies like furniture, dishes, and bedding, but we had to bring our own towels and other necessities. It had two or maybe three bedrooms, a kitchen-living room, and (thankfully) had electricity and indoor plumbing. I asked my cousin Pauline to come with us, who is almost the same age as me and my sister. We also had Lady, our new German Shepherd-cross with us. (I recently wrote about her in Friday’s Faces from the Past: Our Dog Lady). One day, she came across a skunk and got sprayed by it. Someone at the camp said wash her in tomato juice, so Mom went to the grocery store to buy a few cans. The juice didn’t help and only made Lady smell like skunky tomato juice.
Three days after we arrived at the cottage, Aunt Madeleine, Uncle René, and three of their children spent a few hours with us. Two days later, Mom’s other sisters Simone and Jeanne d’arc, with some of their children (my cousins Bobby, Suzanne and Kathy) also spent the day at our cottage.
One night, all the cottagers had a marshmallow roast. On another occasion, Dad took me to “The Highway Bookshop” in Cobalt. He had previously been there and, knowing my love of books and reading, wanted me to see the store. Dad was impressed with the amount of books the store had and how easily the staff retrieved any book he’d ask for from the seemingly endless rows of shelves. I treated myself to two books: The Song of Bernadette (in hardcover) and The Diary of Anne Frank (in paperback), each only 75 cents. (I still have those books today.) On one of Dad’s day off, we went to the Earlton Air Show and then drove to Notre-Dame-du-Nord, St-Bruno-de-Guigues, and Ville-Marie, small, Francophone communities just across the border in Quebec. One of the nicest things about being at the cottage was sitting with Dad by the water in the evenings. It was here that I saw an Arctic Loon for the first time and heard its distinctive, haunting call.
That summer vacation was one of the best two weeks of our lives.
Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.