Kettle’s Beach History
By Joanne Scott

Horace J. Kettle arrived in Canada in 1906 with a five pound note in his pocket, at the age of sixteen.

He eventually met and married Montalena Skinner from the Mount Albert area, near Newmarket. They moved to Midland, where they started a family grocery business on the main street and lived above the shop. The business thrived and was moved to a new location on the corner of Yonge and Russell Streets. The new store was a going concern, with gas pumps out front, apartments above, a flour and feed warehouse at the back and a new home, complete with large gardens and a barn for the cow and horse, next door. Cordwood, for home heating, was also part of the family business.

In 1939, Horace and Stewart Benson, Manager of the Bank of Commerce, purchased a large parcel of land between 800 and 900 acres, in Tiny Township, along the north shore of Georgian Bay. Lumbering for cordwood was carried out in the areas around Kettle’s Lake and in later years, scotch pine was planted for Christmas trees. After Mr. Benson’s death, Horace Kettle bought his share of the property from Fred Grant, a barrister in Midland, at the time.

The waterfront property, along Georgian Bay, was accessed by a narrow lumber road. The road was so narrow that it was often difficult for two vehicles to pass. The lower portion, where it passed through a cedar grove, was so wet that cedar logs were placed to create a corduroy surface. The first sale of waterfront property was to Vern Wood, a good friend of the family, in the late 1940s. Mr. Wood built a small cabin and a stone and crib dock. That sale was followed by another to Charlie Simmonds, in 1949.

Horace Kettle passed away on May 18, 1955. One year later, his wife, Montalena, had a log cottage built from the cedar logs, lumbered from the nearby forest. “Monta” spent many of her years working in the family grocery business but enjoyed Sundays and Wednesday afternoons at the cottage. She would take time from her busy life to join her children and grandchildren at Kettle’s Beach, during the summer.

Son Bruce continued to run the store, while son Harold took on the task of developing a subdivision plan for the shore property. Originally, 13 waterfront lots and 25 back lots came into being but the current plan, #1321 was developed in 1959. The road to the shoreline was improved and Hydro was eventually brought in.

In 1963, Harold sold much of the remaining property to the Province of Ontario to become Awenda Provincial Park. As the new park was surveyed, it became apparent that it was rich in archeological sites as well as areas of rare plant and animal species. For those reasons, it took 15 years before parts of the park were opened to campers and hikers.

Gradually, over the years, the little settlement at Kettle’s Beach grew and people built more and more cottages. In 1966, Harold gave a small portion of the road, then known as Grandview Drive, to Tiny Township so that the road from Georgian Bay Estates could continue through to Kettle’s Beach. However, most of the Kettle’s Beach residents preferred to use the shorter route through the Park to get to their cottages. In 1975, after Awenda opened to the public, the MNR tried to prevent access through the Park by erecting a gate. This greatly upset the residents so they came together to form the legally incorporated Kettle’s Beach Association. With the help of a lawyer and the backing of Tiny Township, they gained the right of passage through the Park on the “old road” only. All Kettle’s Beach residents were issued keys to the gate. This turned out to be quite unsatisfactory and cards were issued next. Eventually, the Park gatehouse was moved and the road became the responsibility of Tiny Township so the residents and the general public can drive through freely.

Bruce Kettle and his wife Mildred built a small home at the very end of Champlain Road. Tom Kettle and his wife Colleen dismantled the old family cottage and built a new home using some of the original cedar logs. Harold Kettle passed away in 1978 and his wife, Jessie, built a cottage on the second last lot.

At this time, all three residences have passed along to the next generation. Richard and Sheila Kettle, along with sister Mary Lyn Beauvais, live in the home that Tom and Colleen built. Joanne and Jack Scott extended Jessie’s cottage into a year-round home. Gail and Vance Ivany renovated Bruce and Mildred’s home and have lived there for the past seven years. Jim Kettle and wife Karen are in the process of building their home, next to Joanne and Jack. All continue to be involved in the Kettle’s Beach Association. Cousins, Joanne and Gail are on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Awenda Park.