Early years at Addison Beach

(This account is based on "The Cottage Book [1915-1953]" of Rev. Arthur P. Addison, "The Cottage 1914-1989" by Louise Addison Lewis, and the reminiscences of George Addison, now 93, A.P.’s only surviving child.)

Lot 21, Concession 13, which runs south on the shoreline of Nottawasaga Bay from the 14th Concession Road to Tiny Island, was sold by the Crown in the mid 1800s. It was held by a succession of lumber companies and farmers until, in 1913, George A. Carriveau and Emerie Brunelle sold it to two brothers, Dr. William L. T. Addison (a physician) and Rev. Arthur P. Addison (a Methodist minister). The Addison brothers had explored the Nottawasaga shoreline by canoe looking for a pleasant place to establish cottages for the family.

"The Cottage Book" states:
Total cost of land $500
Legal services $25
Survey $100
Total $625

In the following year the Addison brothers subdivided their 21 acres into ten waterfront lots, assigning three each to themselves and another three to their older sister Margaret, Dean of Women at Victoria College, University of Toronto.

George Carriveau, Joe Beausoleil, A.P. Addison and a university student built three cottages and painted them dark green. A well was dug at the middle one, Margaret's, and used by all three.

Arthur's cottage cost $722.89, including $239 for the land, $323.11 for lumber, $35.00 for barging the lumber from Collingwood, and $74.45 for labour, plus modest sums for paint, cement, hardware etc. The taxes for 1916 came to $13.42, plus $1.25 for each cottage in place of road work (a day's labour).

Arthur, his wife Elizabeth and their four children, Will, his wife Janie and their four children, and Margaret, her younger sister Charlotte, and Grandfather Addison, came by train to Penetanguishene for the first few years (the branch line from Allandale, which paralleled County Road 6, is now the Tiny Trail). They would hire a team and democrat from Robitaille's livery stable and make their way to the 13th Concession Road, down to the shore, and then along the beach to their cottages (the 14th Concession Road was not cut through from the brow of the hill until after World War II). A second team and box wagon would bring the luggage and groceries. By 1918 they had acquired a car, and then their access was through Joe Beausoleil's farm and a rough road down through the fields and woods.

The women and children typically stayed for the summer, the men arrived when they were on holiday. Here is Elizabeth's Grocery List for 1920:

98 lbs. bread flour
50 lbs. Pastry flour
40 lbs. Oatmeal
100 lbs White Sugar
25 lbs. Brown Sugar
2 lbs. Coffee
1 lb. Tea
Laundry Soap 25 cents
Enough Castile
1 Cake Naphtha
Ammonia pkg.
Starch – 1 lb.
Has enough blue
Has enough soda
Salt – also for freezer
Plenty Baking Soda
1 lb Baking Powder
1 lb Tapioca
3 lbs. Macaroni
Cheese – 3 lbs
Cocoa – pkg.
Canned Goods
Can Jam
Lard – 3 lbs
Corn Meal
Graham Flour
Soda Biscuits – Box
Bottle Vanilla
5 pkgs yeast
Corn Starch pkg
1 Tin Snap
1 Tin Blacking
1 Tin White Dressing
Pop Corn

Getting to town to buy supplies was undertaken only every second week at the beginning, since it entailed a mile's hike through the woods, borrowing a horse and wagon from Mr. Beausoleil and driving to the livery stable in Penetang.

The cottages had no electricity until 1951. Wood had to be chopped for the stove and the fireplace. Bread was baked twice a week. Laundry meant boiling the whites in a huge pot of water on the wood stove, washing them in a hand operated machine, running them through a wringer, rinsing and wringing them again, and hanging them in the sun to dry.

Every day Mr. Beausoleil came at 8 am from his farm with his horse Luce, bringing fresh milk, butter, eggs, vegetables, and ice that had been cut on the Bay the previous winter and packed in sawdust in an ice house. Occasionally fishermen supplied them with fish. Wild raspberries were a staple. In 1918, Arthur noted that his family had consumed 2 quarts of berries every day from the middle of July to the end of August and that enough had been picked over and above that that his wife Lizzie had made 84 pints of preserves and a pail of jam.

An attempt at establishing an orchard of different types of apple and cherry trees and planting currant bushes failed.

For the children, once the wood and water had been brought in, and the floors had been swept clear of sand, life at the cottage meant exploring the woods and the shore. Grandfather Addison had given each cottage a row boat and two pairs of oars. The first generation of children filled presses with local plants, and learned their names in English and Latin. They became avid birders. They caught perch in the Bay. They swam and went on expeditions. They frequently slept out in a tent. Arthur taught them all how to carve wood. From time to time there would be a special night of skits and songs around a bonfire.

The adults read, spent time with their relatives in the other cottages, and occasionally seized a moment to reflect -- On July 4 of 1915, the first summer at the cottage, we find this in "The Cottage Book":

"As I write on Sunday aft. the wind blows strong from the south – fresh & cool but not cold. I look south toward this view through the opening. The shore rises misty blue in the distance. White caps dot the surface. The touch of the island and its ice house – the fringe of trees on our own shore make the frame of the picture – I drink in big breaths but I do not become enthusiastic. I am merely thankful to the very kind providence which brought us all to this beautiful place and has made it possible for us to have so comfortable, convenient and pleasantly situated cottage. The comfort will grow. May the spirit of content grow with it. And above all the spirit of thankfulness."

Sunday church service was observed in Margaret’s cottage until that cottage burned to the ground in 1959. Charlotte played the pump organ, and one of the family’s ministers would officiate (over the next 50 years usually two or three were available). There too the Aunts would entertain their guests from the States, Canada, Europe and the East. Margaret, busy with her duties as Dean of Women at Victoria College, had someone to help with the housework, possibly the daughter of a missionary.

In 1935, Professor Will and Rebecca Kynoch and their two daughters began to come from Ann Arbor, Michigan for the long academic summer. At first they rented Tiny Island from Emerie and Alex Brunelle, and in 1942 they bought it and built a cottage of their own. And in 1936 Wes Ansley, a friend of the Addisons, built a cottage just south of the original three (this reverted to the Addisons many years later).

The original three cottages served a growing number of Addisons until the late 1940s, when a couple of the original lots were sold to finance building three more cottages for the next generation.

By 1950, seven new cottages had been constructed – four on the lots that had been sold and three more for the Addisons. In 1951 electricity arrived, and the old iceboxes, wood stoves, oil lamps and Coleman lamps were all replaced. A new era had begun.

A Democrat