In 1934, my family consisting of my Mother and Father (Jennie and Bill McDonough), Grandparents (Elizabeth & John James Meikle), my Uncle Jack (my Mother’s Brother) and myself at age 6) rented a cottage at Millar’s Cottages on South Kahshe Lake Road for a week in the summer. We had a great time, loved the lake and area and I guess the bug for a cottage was then instilled in my Grandparents’ minds.
In 1940, a piece of land was purchased by my Grandparents and my Uncle Jack for $125.00 from Mr. Herb Heaps, who at the time owned quite a bit of lakefront property. The building of the cottage began on Easter Week-end in 1941, which took only 3 days and 3 men to build it at a cost of $300.00.
It apparently rained every day it was being built with my Grandfather and my Uncle bringing lumber and supplies by boat as there was no road access at the time. Unfortunately throughout the winter of 1941 the roof caved in as it was found to have only two ties across the whole cottage leaving the structure with no support.
A fellow employee of my Father’s from Dominion Manufacturing, also known as National Casket, told him about a cottage for rent at Kahshe Lake across from Denne’s called Balfour’s and we rented that for our vacation as the cottage could not be used. So in 1942 the cottage was re-built at a cost of $150.00, which included 3 bedrooms, kitchen, and a screened in porch.
We are the middle of three cottages hidden within an inlet right across from Prospect Point and have definitely lucked out with having the best of neighbours. Looking up from the lake on the left were Bill and Irene Carter, who settled there in 1920, and to the right were Charlie and Margaret McCaw, who built in 1937. The cottages have changed and been changed due to circumstances or well maintained over the years and to this day, these cottages are owned, vacationed at or lived in either by their children, their children’s children and their children’s children’s children.
Irene Carter's flower-filled canoe 1959
Most men back then worked till 12:00 o’clock on Saturdays and that was true of my Grandfather and Father, so we would all get in the car Saturday afternoon for at that time the “long trip” to the cottage. My sister Joan (Dimp) around age 11 usually stayed with friends in Toronto (Carlaw & Queen area) as the rough cottage life was not her cup of tea.
There was no hydro, outhouse or wood,stove, but somehow we managed quite nicely. I remember my Uncle Jack and my Father bringing some form of stove over in a Peterborough 16’ row boat, and carrying it up from the water’s edge to the cottage.
In 1947, at the age of 19 I asked for the keys to the cottage to take up a friend (Tommy Griffith) with the pretence of doing some of the fixing up and re-modelling and basically never gave them back, from then on it was mine!! Although we actually did do some work and added 13 more beams to the structure, added insulation and other small little adjustments that needed doing, so I didn’t feel too bad!
Not entirely true, as this dog (my Sister’s) constantly used the varathaned bow’s of my docked boats as diving boards into the water..
Jack Sheedy, my brother-in-law and
myself building the first outhouse
In 1952/53, a friend and I hooked up to the hydro lines that had already been installed throughout some of the properties in the area. This has never been divulged and maybe should not be in print, but the two of us knew nothing about hooking up hydro, so we broke into a cottage that we knew already had service, examined how it was done and left without a trace. No one ever knew until now. Armed with all that knowledge, we installed the wires and figured we had mastered it and we left for the city feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Through the week, Bill Carter’s Father-In-Law who was at their cottage, let in the inspector hopefully to OK the installation at our cottage, but found out to his surprise there was no service box……..a minor little detail we may have overlooked; however, it was later installed!
Also I believe in that year the road was installed but not right down to our lot. Charlie McCaw, who was quite the organizer at the time and to our advantage our neighbour, insisted the road be lengthened, which was done at a cost of $500.00 each. The cost was minimal as this was a godsend and made going to the cottage much more enjoyable.
1963 saw the boathouse and dock coming together with the help from a lot of friends that knew what they were doing. The dock was originally put in using a crib, which was to our benefit. Because of our location, it lasted until 1987 and only at that time needed upgrading. The cost of the boathouse was approximately $500.00 for the outside and $200.00 for inside finishing. This little project took about a year to finish. My wife (Shanny) and her friend (Mary) were adamant about having stairs to the top with a flat roof to allow them to sunbathe. And although I was told over and over by people that knew better not to go with a flat roof, I am sure every husband would have done the same and yes, I went with the flat roof! Big mistake, as to this day we still have leaks.
1972/73 saw the addition put on the back of the cottage, making a bigger kitchen and an inside bathroom, now that’s luxury at its height! Although that was a problem also because there was a huge in-ground rock, so consequently it was not squared off properly. Not to mention, when I had the roof off, it rained continuously.
In 1980 we decided to close in the front porch, which was converted to more living space including another bedroom and larger dining area. It also enabled us to have a mud room entrance in which we later installed an air conditioner for more luxury!
I believe within the same year, because of the muddy bottom of the lake, we wanted to make a nice little beach area. Over a period of about 7 – 8 years we had trucks unloading sand as close to the shore as possible and would hand shovel in onto the ice as in the springtime it would melt and settle on the bottom of the area we covered. It took approximately 5 full truckloads of sand to get it to the level it is today. It has settled quite nicely and encompasses a nice area between the docks of our cottage and Carter’s and is used and appreciated by all.
I am well known in the area for flying over the lake in my J3 65 horsepower 1945 yellow Piper plane. Unfortunately the plane has gone, but the wooden ramp I built to hold it still remains and is now used for parking the canoe and serves as a nice resting area for the loons and ducks.
Finally in 1981 a solid flagstone break wall was installed by Wayne and Scott who artfully initialled the master work for the entire world to see.
Cottage and boathouse – 2007
Well, that pretty much concludes my fond memories, which is the history of our cottage and for further reading enjoyment I have included a few incidents that have left lasting impressions with me:
A FEW LASTING IMPRESSIONS
Irene Carter (our guiding Mother) would regularly take a group of us teenagers over to Sophers dance hall (south end Kahshe Lake) where we got to know and meet all of our lake friends over the years and became a big happy lake family
One week-end we housed 28 people for a work bash event. When all the beds were filled up the balance all crashed on the floor
The cottage names for Carter’s was Rocky Cove and the McCaws’ was Chamar for Charlie and Margaret
In 1938 or 39 I remember Charlie McCaw wanted to break up a large rock so he placed dynamite on top of it and let it go. The rock was saved; however, all the windows in his cottage were blown out
With all of us married with children, every weekend one couple would watch the children and let the other couple go over to Denne’s or the Wigwam for a night out. This one particular weekend was my sister’s turn, so Jack and she were in the boat ready to leave and we were all standing on Carter’s dock waving goodbye. Jack stood up to pull the cord for the motor and it caught quickly and Jack fell out into the water. Dimp was still in the boat with it going around in circles and Jack was flailing in the water not able to swim. Out in a flash running from Carter’s cottage up on the hill was Cliff Klink! He removed his shirt, dove into the water and swam first to the boat to shut off the motor. Then he pull Jack to safety. That was quite an adventure and I don’t believe they went out dancing that evening after that.
One weekend, I believe in the early 50’s, my niece was staying at the cottage with us after her parents (my Sister) went home. After lights out, she started getting homesick and cried and cried until I finally had to drive her home to Toronto around 2:00 a.m. in the morning. She swears I threw her in the door from the road…ummm maybe she’s right!