Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"There is a town in North Ontario, With dream comfort memory to spare, And in my mind I still need a place to go, All my changes were there.

“There is a town in North Ontario,With dream comfort memory to spare, And in my mind I still need a place to go, All my changes were there.”

I know, I’m the world’s worst Blogger. I just can’t keep up with all the posts. What has it been? It’s probably close to a month since my last post, but time passes so quickly.

Ben and I have spent the past week at my parents’ cabin in Canada. It was a wonderful trip but before I give all those details I’d like to give a bit of background information. I’m pretty sure it was my great, great grandfather Kelly who first purchased land on Ahmic. Ahmic is a small secluded lake in Ontario, Canada, about four hours north of Toronto. Grandfather Kelly was fishing with a friend, I believe, and came upon the lake, empty of any human life. He, being a very successful doctor, bought up about half the property on the lake and established one of the first “camps” or cabins there, known as Indian Point. As the years passed, many more camps were built around the lake by two main families, the Kellys and the Candlers. We all tease that if someone from the two families married, the whole lake would be related.

Many years after Grandfather Kelly built, my mother’s parents, known to me as Granny and Granddaddy, built Needle Point. It is there that I spent one or two weeks every summer. There are too many wonderful memories to name, so I’ll save some for a later post. But I do want to give you a mental picture of the place.

Needle Point has a main cabin with a lovely porch, a kitchen, a great room, three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. My grandparents have their own sleeper cabin. I grew up staying in the boat house with its two bed rooms and one bath. My parents occupied one room and my two brothers and I shared the other. A typical day would start with the ringing of the bell at 7:45 am to wake you and the next bell would ring soon after at 8am; which meant that you should be waiting in the dining room by this point. The bells were always the same and Granny meant business with them. If you did not show up by bell time you missed the meal; however, I haven’t known anyone to try, because no one crosses Granny.

My Grandparents had a cook name Ann that would prepare the meals which Granny carefully thought out. After a lavish breakfast, which always included fresh fruits with cream, cereal, an egg, bacon, juice, toast, and the best strawberry preserves you have ever put in your mouth; we would sit at the table and listen to the walkie talkie for lake news. There were no phones, TVs, or electronic conveniences. Conversations on the band waves would always begin “Rose Camp calling Needle Point, Needle Point come in.” After all news was heard we would then change clothes and work on whatever tasks were at hand till around 10am. Men normally did duties such as chopping wood or clear paths, while the woman picked wild blueberries or weeded. After work we would all pile in the fast boat to go to town. There are no roads to Needle Point. The town of Magnetawan consists of a few churches, a post office, a general store, a small eatery, and a couple of houses. We would go every day to fill up the boats at the Marina and buy groceries; but most importantly, to get a luscious scoop of mouth watering ice cream from June’s. It is pure heaven because Canadian dairy products are far superior to those in the States. After the errands we would head back to camp.

At 12:45 another bell would ring and then soon after the 1pm lunch time bell would sound. Once again we would gather around the table and delve into another scrumptious meal. Lunch always consisted of some variety of soup and an assortment of meats and cheeses to prepare a sandwich. At the end of the meal the candy jar would be passed around the table and we would each get to pick one. I can’t remember everyone’s choice but I do remember my father always chose a Sweet Marie, Brother Henry almost always chose Junior Mints and I could always be found swiping the toffee bar. Oh, that wonderful toffee. There is absolutely nothing like it in the States. I would hand it to Granddaddy so he could smack it on the ground and break it into bite size pieces for me. Granddaddy was so strong and I can remember asking to see his big muscled arms when I was small. I was Granddaddy’s little Squirt and still am. I’d be sad if he called me by any other name.

After gorging ourselves (everyone gains the Ahmic 10lb) we would lay on the day beds and let our meals settle; often falling asleep. I still feel that Canada is the only place where I can take a nap. If it was sunny outside we would spend our time skiing, tubing, and swimming in the cold green water. If it rained we would contently read or work on one of the many puzzles my grandparents had laying around. Yet, rain or shine, whoever was old enough would make the swim to “the Island” and back. It is an island, Birch Island to be exact, which lies about two football field’s distance from Needle Pointe. It was a big deal to swim to the island because when you could swim there and back with no help, you were allowed to ride in the boat without a life jacket. Even our visiting friends which we brought up had to make the trek.

After the days events we would have cocktails at 6pm. I don’t think my Grandparents have ever missed their bourbon drinks a day in their life. My father attributes their long and healthy lives to their one drink a day. At 6:45pm the first bell would ring and then the bells would sing again at seven. Dinner was yet another monstrous meal with meats, veggies, and rolls. There was always a lovely dessert at the end, ranging from crème brulee or lemon curd to zebra cake or meringues with chocolate ice cream. My grandparents ate like “a king at breakfast, a queen at lunch, and a popper at super” but fed us like Kings all day.

The evenings came quietly and filled the sky with a moon so clear you could see his laughing face or stars so bright you could see the Milky Way and numerous constellations. We would usually sit and talk or play card games before bed. The best was Spoons, which can be dangerous in my family since we are so viciously competitive. My mother continues to be the reigning champ although we all plot to take her down. My grandparents would drift off to bed and we soon after. Since we shared a bathroom, many nights as many as four would be shoved into the room, trying to brush teeth and wash faces. Often a game of touch back would ensue with fits of laughter. My brother’s and I would stay up late telling stories or making bodily noises while my father would tell us through the thin walls to go to sleep. We never took it very seriously though, because we could hear the laughter behind his words. We would finally drift off to sleep with the sound of stormy winds or a loon’s sad song on a clear night.

This was the typical day. Sometimes they would vary with a day long canoe trip or a drive to the Maple store. And as we got older we would go out more at night. But the days only vary slightly and they always began with the enchanting sound of bells in the misty, cold Ahmic morning.

Since I have written such a long reminiscing story I will save my words on our last trip for another day. I hope that this gives you a mental picture of this peaceful and majestic place although my words do it so little justice.


LB said...

oh, I loved this post!! You are a wonderful story teller!! I felt like you traveled back in time when you went to Canada. Wow.

ann said...

I agree (with LB)!! That was so much fun to read. It sounds like something out of a story. I hope you had as much fun this time. I was meaning to ask you yesterday about your house. So, it's for sale? Have you had any bites on it? Also, I loved your dress yesterday!

walt said...

hey, I googled indian pt, ahmic and found your posting. I was looking for info for a friend who has a canoe that, it so happens, your great great grandfather bought in 1915.
Check here for the Old Town Canoe Co. build record. Unfortunately the canoe is a wreck and if restored there might be 10% original canoe left. It's still up here in Canada though. Anywhoo I thought that you might be interested all the same.

Anonymous said...

I just read the biography of Howard A. Kelly and was unbelievably moved--as a Christian and American physician myself. I would love to hear more about your family. Are any of Edmund B. Kelly's family around?

With Great Admiration,
Ben White