By Sue Tiffin
Published Sept. 1 2016
A group of cottages that haven’t changed much since they were built in the late ’60s sits off a trail just a few kilometres down Twelve Mile Lake Road.
Five of the cottages nestled in the bay behind Rock Island on Twelve Mile Lake are still owned by the original owners or the next generation – their kids.
Though some have been raised or had indoor plumbing added or renovations done the lakeside retreats retain the charm and solid structures they were built on after the lots were bought – some for less than $3000 in 1967.
After noticing the lots while cottaging with his parents that year then-31-year-old Howard Allder purchased the land and built the cottage in large part by himself on weekends.
“That’s the way we used to do things” said Allder. “It was more sort of handymen that bought these places and did things themselves. Now it seems you look around and see a lot of contractors doing work.”
Allder now 80 still visits the cottage from his permanent home in Aurora. The fresh air and sunshine and the view are draws for him as they were when he started building almost 50 years ago.
“I’m almost finished” he joked. “I used to come just to work on the cottage or the grounds – there’s always something to do. Now I come just to sit.”
Allder said that through the years the kids and grandkids visiting each cottage in the bay would play together but for the most part the families have kept to themselves.
“That’s probably why we’ve stayed friends” he laughed.
Allder’s son Jim had been visiting during the summer every year since he was born in the mid-’70s. Five years ago he transferred permanently to the area from Cornwall with his wife Carolyn.
“It’s a totally different perspective” he said. “The time when my work is most busy the summer that’s the time I used to be here enjoying the cottage. Now I really love the fall when my work slows down.”
Jim remembers a different time in Minden when it was less busy and when entertainment was less driven by technology.
“I don’t think we had a television” he said. “Then we had a television with whatever you got on an antenna then eventually a VCR now a DVD player.”
The Allders would visit the Beaver Theatre in Minden like many of their neighbours.
Bob Hoover whose dad built their cottage with some carpenters in four days in 1968 remembers seeing his first James Bond movie at the Beaver Theatre. He’s a seasonal resident at the Twelve Mile Lake cottage travelling four hours from Atwood Ont. to get to it.
“I guess Dad must have done a good job because when the tornado came through in 2006 two trees came down and slapped it like a fly swatter” he said. “She’s sound. That’s pretty good.”
Larry Rainey who became a permanent resident in 2005 in the cottage his dad built in the late ’60s said he remembers a lot of card playing – especially cribbage – around the table in the early years. His family has tried to keep up that tradition with what he called some “wild” games of Mexican train dominoes. He also remembers small lakeside shops and trips as a teenager to Medley’s the dance hall in Carnarvon. He remembers walks along the road with his family and also a time when the roads took completely different routes.
“Whenever I think I have to take care of this or do that every once in awhile I just remind myself of how fortunate we all are to have found this little stretch here and to all still be here enjoying our families” he said. “It’s a pretty nice spot. It’s one way you feel really fortunate that your parents made the decisions they did.”
“It’s really mind-blowing with the amount of cottages sold and torn down and rebuilt” said Jim. “We want to keep it like it is. I think it’s just a sense of pride the history of it. There’s a lot of tradition to it. It’s probably the only thing since I was a kid that was consistent. You change jobs girlfriends we’ve moved grown up we’re in different houses – but the cottage has always been the consistent thing. Dad built it it’ll stay the same.”
“I’ve read of people that have let a family cottage go” said Rainey. “And have always regretted it for the rest of their lives that they didn’t find a way to hang on to it. That’s in the back of my head all the time. As long as we can enjoy this place and things work for everyone concerned then you have to keep it going.”
“We’re just used to all being here.”