Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Oh, Canada

From the age of 1 to 26, I made almost yearly treks to Canada with my family.  Growing up we didn't have extra money lying around for expensive vacations so we would go places where we had connections...to a rustic mountain cabin owned by family, to Florida where my grandparents owned a house for awhile, and to a cabin right on a lake in Canada, owned by my uncle's family.

The view from my uncle's dock.

When I was a year old, my parents started accompanying my aunt and uncle on a yearly summer vacation to this peaceful spot, located on a narrow channel at one end of an 8-mile long lake.  There are pictures documenting their youth- beards, 60's and 70's hairstyles, bandanas and moo-moos (appropriate attire for coming and going from the outdoor shower).  The cabin had three small rooms and a narrow, screened-in porch with a long table built into the side.  There was an outhouse out back.  There was a dock and boat to fish from and a diving board jutting out from a large rock in front of the cabin, held up by a tire that was painted with the word "Retired".

Then came my four siblings and my aunt and uncle's own two children.  Before we knew it the tiny, three-room cabin was bursting with four adults and seven kids (who could be found littering the floor in sleeping bags each night).  We didn't care where we slept.  We were in Canada.  It had become our very favorite place to be.  The night before our yearly trip, none of us could sleep for our excitement.  This actually worked out pretty well, because after our parents roused us up at 3 or 4am to leave, we promptly fell back asleep in the station wagon or van, sleeping much of the way.  We had saved our allowance for weeks to buy huge freeze pops, Nerds and penny candy at the store at the end of the lake where they also sold a few basic groceries and gas for the boats.

Miriam and Sadie on the dock and in the water where I played as a girl.

We fished, swam, explored the pine-filled forest behind the cabin, learned to water ski, went for day trips with picnic lunches to islands, swam across the little channel and down to the big rock.  We fed chipmunks un-popped pop corn from our hands and sometimes feet, roasted marshmallows, laid on the dock to warm ourselves and swatted the mosquitoes at dusk.  We went exploring by boat, hunting for that perfect piece of driftwood, picking water lilies and spotting turtles sunning themselves on logs.  We played games like Hand and Foot, Monopoly and Rook and for several years, held talent shows in the evening (the limited TV channels were often in French).

Sadie feeding a chipmunk.

My uncle's parents eventually added on a large living room to the cabin, but it always maintained it's cozy feel.  I can so clearly remember waking up in the kitchen (where I often slept) to the sound of boats just outside, passing through the channel to get gas, the smell of coffee and my mom and aunt puttering in the sink and on counter tops, getting out cereal, shoofly pie and funny cake for breakfast.  When my dad and uncle had a successful early morning fishing trip, we'd also eat fish for breakfast- bass, walleye and northern pike.  The lake is a quiet one, with much of the land owned by the government, keeping it from becoming busy and over-built.

Jamey relaxing in the morning.

I'm sharing all this with you because last week, I took my children to this wonderful, memory-filled place.  Jamey and I had taken Sam when he was one, but hadn't been for the past 8 years because lodging space (as you can imagine) was in short supply since all 7 children are now married and almost all have kids of their own.  Last year, my mom and sister discovered a place on the opposite end of the lake that could accommodate all of us.  And, yes.  It was hard to sleep the night before.

 Sadie and Sam

We took up five cottages, us 12 adults and 11 kids (ages 9, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 3-weeks old and -4 weeks old).  My aunt and uncle, their two children and spouses and four grandchildren were up the same week at the other end of the lake and we visited back and forth by boat, reminiscing and watching our children love the lake as we do.

 Sadie fishing.

Watching my kids swim in the water, fish, buy (now) 5-cent candy, and feed the chippies was almost too much for me.  We had a glorious week and it is an understatement to say it was hard for me to leave.  At two separate times, both Sam and Sadie asked me if we could live there.  I remember feeling the same way.

It drives home the fact that kids don't need expensive vacations with TVs, video games, and board walks.  They need peace, quiet, time to explore God's creation, and rest in the love and care of their extended family.

This post is dedicated to my uncle who, over the years, has proven his incredibly generous and giving spirit by baiting countless hooks for us kids, for taking us water skiing and tubing whenever we asked, for being vigilant when it came to watching us by the water, and for inviting us along every year.  Thank you, Uncle Garry. Pin It


  1. So glad that you enjoyed your trip to Canada!!!

  2. That pretty much sums it up, great post! Looking forward to the next time we all get together!

  3. Beautiful, Jane. Thanks for posting. We missed your posting. :) Love your heart.

  4. Absolutely love this post--and that last picture! Throughout the years, I've heard countless stories about your family's Canada vacations...always sounded like SO much fun! :)

  5. ok,your post brought tears to my eyes.You are talking my kind of talk,chipmunks that use to get in our 100 year old cabin that we carved our names in and how many fish we caught .So did others who had rented a cabin there .We found dates back to 1910.MN looks much the same ,one of gods miracles.I'm am also sad because of a choice I made a long time a go to follow my husband, and my brother was executive of my fathers estate.He conned me out of my legacy.You see my dad bought that resort.I'm so glad your kids got to experience a slice of heaven.

  6. Funny that we were both in Canada at about the same time, enjoying watching our kids play at a lake! :-) Canada is absolutely beautiful. My boys loved it. Looks like your little ones had a blast too!

  7. What a wonderful memory. It reminds me of similar vacations when I was a kid. :)

  8. Well, now I'm weepy. What great memories...you should print this out and tuck it away in your bible for your kids to read someday. Such a beautiful post... And now I love Uncle Garry, too! :)

  9. Just lovely! What a wonderful way to build memories in your kiddos and have them share a piece of your own childhood. Your post brought back memories of some of my own childhood experiences. It's a little sad that my kids, who are quickly approaching adulthood, were never able to experience some of these things that I experienced. But, we made memories with them in a different way. Instead of swimming in the lake, playing on sand bars, boating, fishing, playing cards at night with grandparents/great-aunt & uncle we made memories of visiting grandparents in their home near a national park and exploring what was around us - grooming/riding the horses, driving through the national park, visiting historical sites, swimming in the creek and picnicing. It's all good! I enjoyed reading about your memories, old ones and new ones.

  10. Nice post where in Canad is that?

    1. Haha I meant to write Canada, I am Canadian and I am wondering what region that is, looks like Muskoka.

  11. Eastern Canada...there's no life like it. My home sweet home. Thank you for sharing your vacation with us.

  12. Loved your post. Oh how wonderful for your kiddos to get to experience the same wonder you did as a child. What a special time with extended family. Joyce

  13. This was beautiful! I vaguely remember a trip up there in my childhood with your aunt and uncle. All I remember is playing with all the snails that were attached under the dock and thinking it was the best thing ever. :) Thanks for the reminder that the simplest vacations are often the best.


  14. What a beautiful post about a lovely place. What wonderful memories you have and are making for your children.

  15. I love this post and can totally relate. Our family is starting to look forward to yearly cabin vacations. It's so fun to hear about the things they remember and look forward to doing again.

  16. had to come back for another peek,ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh -I so love the lake

  17. I love this post..........we vacation each year with my parents, we go to a family church camp where I have gone for the past 32 years :) My children are now playing with my friend's children, three generations reside together for a week each year. This is the only time we see each other each year. For a week we dine together, the children go to class together each morning, there is a craft barn, swimming pool, beadery and more. Each night we have vespers, each morning the wake up bell. It is the most anticipated week of the year for us all :)

  18. So precious Jane! What a GREAT blessing! How fun that you were in *my* country for awhile for vacation. I, however, was still VERY far from there!! :) Loved the photos of the family....what precious memories you are making!!


  19. These photos remind me of my time on the lake in Maine.. very similar. Fantastic memories.


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