Sunday, November 20, 2011

History of Whitehouse Bay, Lake of Bays, Muskoka

This is about Lake of Bays and about the next bay over from Beauview Cottages.

From Memoirs of the Lake

The Hotel on White House Bay

Any doubt that the White House Hotel played a central role in the social scene of this Bay would be dispelled by an afternoon spent with four ladies who recounted their own stories of adventure, entertainment and happy cottage memories.

Current residents and cottagers will know the Bay and the Road that take the name White House. They may not know that the Massey family of Brantford built a lovely white cottage in 1900 on the site that eventually became a hotel until the building’s demise over 50 years later. The Massey family owned the building for less than a decade, but its impact on the lives of people stretched through much of the 20th century.

In July of 2011, Carole Young, Jean L. Robertson, Jackie Shoffner and Pam Hanna talked with LBHF Board member Bruce MacLellan about their memories of the White House Hotel. Sonia Labatt (nee Armstrong) sent along some of her written memories. Between them, they dined at the Hotel as young girls, watched the guests come and go, greeted the steamship, delivered mail and more. In her youth, Carole played in the property when it was an abandoned but still furnished building.

Several of these ladies are life-long residents of Clovelly ­‑ a popular community of cottages on the north shore of Whitehouse Bay ‑ the hotel was part of this area. (Clovelly takes its name from Clovelly, England and was given by Jane Tyrell, and early cottager.)
Also in the Bay is Wadi’s Creek, Frozen Point, Crown Island and the community accessed by Jo-Lee Point Road. South Portage Road was built in the 1960s and before then, access to this area was via White House Road from Brunel Road, or by steamship.

In 1907, the White House property was sold by the Massey family to Joel and George Alldred and converted it into a hotel. George was the son of Joel and Olive, and he and his sister helped run the business. It was a large home with a centre hall plan and a verandah on three sides. They added a bedroom wing to the east and later George added a large dining room. A second floor with bedrooms above to the west was added in the 1940s. During WW I, George and his brother Oscar went overseas in the army. Fortunately, both returned.

Olive Alldred was a tiny woman (“smaller than a minute” according to one recollection), but there was no question that she really ran the place. Known as Granny Alldred, her face became a mass of wrinkles and she eventually lost her sight and lived to around age 100. She had a big personality and a commitment that played a major role in the success of the hotel.

The steamship Iroquois made a trip around Lake of Bays each day, carrying passengers, luggage and cargo and the Royal Mail. This ship was built at South Portage around 1907 and travelled the lake until it was scuttled around 1948. Each day, except Sunday, the mailbag was dropped off on the White House dock.

“The Whitehouse Hotel was a hub for mail, afternoon tea and many meals,” said Jackie Shoffner (nee Armstrong). “It was a lovely building with many fine details, including dark paneled rooms and a mahogany stair railing that was always waxed to death.”

“Food presentation was very well done,” recalls Pam Hanna, with silver plate cutlery and a white table cloth. At breakfast, oil cloth was spread over the tables for guests staying in the roughly 15 rooms. For special occasions, delicious cakes made by the Ellis family in Baysville were served.

Ropes hung from each room for escape in case of fire and a tennis court was located on the lake side. A six hole outhouse was used when nature called. A large kitchen garden outside provided fresh vegetables throughout the summer. There was also an attractive rose garden, perhaps left over from the Massey family.

Meals were cooked by using two wood stoves in the kitchen and they were kept burning all through the day. The heat in the kitchen during the summer season must have been brutal. Electricity was never installed in the building and the power line only went into Clovelly in about 1954.

There was a long dock so the Iroquois steamship could stop to deliver mail. Rumours always suggested a victim of conflicts over prohibition liquor smuggling was buried in concrete under the dock. The stills to make liquor were located in nearby Whiskey Bay.

The delivery of mail became a right of passage for many youngsters. They were chosen to organize and deliver it to Clovelly cottagers. Sonia Labatt (nee Armstrong) performed this role when she was between 11 and 16 years old.

“It was a responsibility I took very seriously. I would walk along the shore to the Whitehouse and wait for up to three hours for the very large mail bag to arrive,” said Labatt. “Then Effie or George Aldred would sort the mail, reading aloud the name on each item. I would divide the mail into piles, put elastics around each bundle and then visit each cottage.”

The mail was delivered by the Iroqouis and in later years, in a motor boat by the Boothby place from Point Ideal. Another part of the adventure for children was a man named Kirkpatrick who lived next door to the Hotel. Straying too close to his property would attract a holler.

The White House Hotel was really more of an inn. Thanks to the Alldred family, it thrived with its own charm and personality in its day. The world was smaller and people lived at a slower pace. But the happy memories shine as brightly now as that old polished mahogany banister once did on a sunny day at Lake of Bays.

Beauview Cottage Resort, Huntsville, Ontario, Canada 800-363-6047

Friday, November 4, 2011

Best Travel Trips of the World 2012 - National Geographic

National Geographic Traveler magazine has recognized Muskoka, Ontario, Canada as one of their top 20 must see world destinations for 2012.

This is in addition to their recognition of Muskoka as the Best Summer Trip for 2011.

See the Muskoka page on the National Geographic website.

Beauview Cottage Resort, Huntsville, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada 800-363-6047

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

Summer Guests have seen Bob the Cow around Beauview cooking hot dogs (all beef!) for our Welcome BBQ.

Bob was in Udderson (aka Utterson) at Halloween Monday Band Practice when he spotted this wonderful car in the parking lot.

By the Way Bob plays MOOSIC on his saxophone in the band.

The lady that owns the car must be a dairy farmer!

Beauview Cottage Resort, Huntsville, Ontario, Canada 800-363-6047