Growing Up in Tiny Township
By Sue (Stackhouse) Pfeffer
In my 39 years, I have lived in eight homes, twelve if you count my four years away at school. The one home that has remained a constant since the year I turned four, is our family cottage at Rowntree Beach on the 12th Concession in Tiny.
My memories of my childhood in Tiny stand out in little vignettes of feelings, sights, sounds and smells. The tantalizing fragrance of the wood-burning stoves that signaled the crisp, clear beginning of another day; the sounds of the gulls calling out rain to one another as they flew low over the waves; the feeling of utter contentment as the sun settled on my back, ridding my bones of the cold, winter chill; running down the road with my younger sister every Friday night to hide behind the sand dunes and surprise my dad as he came up from the city for the weekend; sleeping out under a makeshift lean-to or tent with a dollar's worth of penny candy from Patchell's; nights playing Capture the Flag and Kick the Can with kids and adults alike.
When I became a teenager, the urge to branch out beyond the beach was strong. Fortunately for me an older couple named Mr. and Mrs. Howell gave me a part-time job on weekends in their store "The Oasis" on the 13th concession. (This was on the current site of the Piccolo Costello Restaurant.) The lessons I learned about making change, dealing with people and developing a work ethic will never be forgotten. Although Mr. Howell could be a crusty individual at times, he also became a trusted mentor and protector; allowing me to handle tricky situations, but ever watchful should a customer come along whose intentions were less than honorable. (Like the biker who asked me, a naïve 14 year-old, to the 'all night drive-in'.)
By the time I turned sixteen, I was hooked and I committed myself to look hard and long to find employment near the cottage. A young couple had just opened the Donut Factory in Midland and there I got my first full time summer job. What a wonderful summer that was, getting to know the local kids, making so many submarine sandwiches that the smell of onions was on my hands until mid-September, spending my days off reading my latest stash of books from the Midland Library and getting together with new found friends.
During my first year of university I had an opportunity to interview for a summer job at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons--a place that I quickly found out was not "The Fort" as we had euphemistically called it. In the late seventies many students were hired for summer staff and I was one of the lucky ones who spent three summers at that legendary spot. This is where I met the Lefaives - Pierre and his cousins Neil, Louis, Denise and their mom Antoinette. We spent many exciting hours rehearsing music in the Lefaive barn, which we would later perform on the staff Boat Cruises in Penetang. The staff at Sainte-Marie was made up of students from Midland, Penetang, Tiny Township and surrounding areas as well as others from out of town. With so many Friends my age, the opportunities to have fun were endless. Many Saturday nights were spent at the Barrelworks in Balm Beach and of course our days off were spent at the 12th.
In subsequent years, I worked as a waitress at the Granada Inn, as a mother's helper in Elmvale and as part of the Education Staff at the Establishments in the fall program. My grandmother would join me at the beginning of May and we'd freeze together in the early mornings in our uninsulated cottage, huddling together by the wood stove just so we could spend time together at the cottage.
Thirty-five years later I realize more than ever how lucky I have been to have spent such a significant part of my life in Tiny. My own children (ages 3 and 8) are eagerly counting the days until they will head north with me to spend another summer with my parents at their cottage. Although we'll never again see candy for a penny, the air is still crisp and clean and the gulls welcome us as we drive toward that distant patch of blue water at the end of the concession road. That is when we truly know that, once again, we are home.