members of the Brampton ball team
Thanks to Christine Sivell Ferri who generously provided the original copy.
The year 1912 marked, I believe, the real beginning of the tourist influx to Lake Bernard, then called Stoney Lake. Prior to that time the Magnetawan and Eagle Lake had attracted many tourists but not Sundridge. In 1912 some baseball enthusiasts in Sundridge and South River, anxious to defeat the teams in some neighbouring communities, persuaded some baseball players from Brampton to spend their holidays in Sundridge. They were particularly interested in pitchers and Brampton had two good ones in Jim Algie and Bill Beatty, the latter of whom had been invited to try out with the Toronto professional team. The group was comprised largely of the Dales and relatives, of the Dale Estate Greenhouses in Brampton, at that time one of the largest in the world with over forty acres under glass.
This group continued to spend their summer holidays in Sundridge ahnost every year until their deaths which in the case of my brother, Bill Beatty, meant sixty-three years. Their names, Algie, Beatty, Campbell and Dale, with the later addition of two more related families, Brydon and Hall, are still familiar names hereabouts. After one year in a large tent on the J. P. Johnstone property at the foot of Union Street, they moved into the three Johnstone cottages, first renting them and then buying them. Shortly after the first world war, as their families expanded, Bill Algie, Bill Beatty and Dr. Brydon moved over to the extreme north end of the lake. They had to be optimists to do so as at that time, the beach there was not very attractive. There was about a foot of old sawdust on top of it, blown over from an old sawmill at the foot of the lake, with more buried in the sand as well as in the bottom of the lake. It took years to clear it away. However, the waves which brought it in, also brought in sand and with the result that the distance between the cottages and the water‘s edge has increased from some seventy—five feet to one hundred and seventy- five in some places. To counteract this, some of the neighbours to the east and west have had to put out groynes.
Another relic of the sawmill was an old scow left on the beach at the foot of Paddy‘s Creek. This creek, we were told, was named by the men in a lumber camp, established around the time of Confederation, just where it crosses the road to the east of the Sim property. They had an Irish cook named Paddy. He used to catch speckled trout for them in the creek so they called it Paddy's Creek. As late as the twenties, trout were plentiful in this creek but now the only catch is smelts. When the ice goes out in the Spring, people come from miles around to fish for them.
Many of the birds have gone the way of the trout. In 1912. the woods, shore and lake were full of them--Canada birds, robins, chickadees, finches, warblers, bluebirds, song sparrows, owls, pileated and other woodpeckers, flickers, thrushes, jays, nuthatches, vireos, evening grosbeaks, cedar waxwings, ospreys, kingfishers,sandpipers, ducks--while the nights were filled with the cries of many loons. Many of these birds have practically disappeared.
In the twenties, the best beach lots could be had for two or three dollars a foot as compared with the present day price of around one hundred dollars. During the depression I was offered almost seven hundred feet of shoreline, with three fairly decent cottages, just south of the inlet, for nine hundred and fifty dollars. Unfortunately, like most people at that time, I did not have the money However, Mr. Lorne Skuce purchased them as part of the establishment of a summer school for teachers which he operated there.
For many years Jim Algie entertained us on summer evenings after dark with his beautiful cornet solos from a canoe in the middle of the lake. He gladly responded to special requests from listeners on the shore. Jim was quite a prankster. One year when the Orange parade was held in Sundridge he led one of the Lodges with his cornet. As he passed us he gve us a big wink and struck up "The Wearing of the Green" which was scarcely appropriate for an Orange parade.
Coming up from Brampton in the early days was quite a journey, by either train or car--no buses then! The train stopped at many a little flagstop, some long forgotten, as for example Carss at the foot of Lake Bernard, and backed down to the wharf at Burk's Falls to connect with the steamer then plying the Magnetawan down to Ahmic Harbour. However, the road journey was worse. There was no pavement in those days and above Orillia the road was often just two ruts in the sand with many a hill which had to be negotiated in low gear. Some of the Fords of that time could only get up these hills in reverse gear. My first trip by car took fourteen hours fairly steady driving.
Bill Beatty was instrumental over the years in facilitating the moves of a number of people from Sundridge to Brampton and vice versa. When Willard Lang was interested in importing a good lacrosse player, Bill suggested Bucko McDonald then a star in Brampton. When Willard enquired if he would have to pay him, Bill Said, "Oh no! But you will either have to find him a job or keep him and he can eat an awful lot." Bucko proved worth his keep.
The youngsters of that day were always looking forward to picnics by steamer down the Magnetawan, at Eagle Lake, at the Gorge, and at the Sandbanks on the Magnetawan to the east. At the Sandbanks they were always intrigued by what they called the "Haunted House", a derelict brick house which seemed out of place in the wilderness. George James, who was born out that way, recalls how the Trudgeon family brought the bricks and other building materials up the Magnetawan around , how there was a rift in the family as a result of which the house was split in two and how the farm was deserted when the family moved down around Lake Simcoe.
For a number of years, Mrs. Ethel (Dale) Brydon held church services on Sunday evenings in front of her cottage. She had a beautiful voice to lead the singing and a piano on the verandah. The services were conducted by the local ministers, one of whom was the Rev. John Houston, or by visiting clergymen, one of whom was the Rev. J. D. Parks, then at Brampton, who summered in one of the Brydon cottages. One evening when Dr. Parks was preaching a skunk visited the neighbourhood. After the service was over, Jack Houston said to Dr. Parks, "I am not in your class as a preacher but I never preached a sermon that smelt like that one." Ethel always took up a collection for the benefit of the United Church in Sundridge so we did not save any money by attending her services.
Over the years the Brampton gang has expanded to the point where their descendants now own over twenty-five cottages on the lake. Some have established permanent residence here. They have made, I think it could be said, a considerable contribution to the life of the community.