Guest Post: Alcatraz

I’ve had a complicated relationship with
my family cottage most of my life — mostly due to the enormity of the dock spiders. But it’s a stunning location, and I couldn’t imagine not having it to go to – even if it means bailing  the 40-year-old motor boat, a crooked bridge, and an uneven kitchen floor.
Margaret at cottageMy aunt, Margaret, wrote this for the newsletter for the lake our cottage is on. It’s nice to hear these stories — occasionally they include pirates! Some I’ve heard. Usually I’ve forgotten the details.  But I like to feel like I’ve got history, even if I’ve never met some of these people, and others I didn’t know for very long.  It occurs to me, that if I don’t talk someone into writing more of these stories down, eventually, no one will get to hear them anymore.
Margaret’s words below:
My grandmother Mary Ann Page was a widow with four children. She bought this point for $100 in 1923 from Edwin Grainger, a fellow member of Yonge Street Methodist Church and the owner of Otiosus, now the Slaters’ cottage. She named it Point Avoca after their house, Mount Avoca, in Toronto. When they came to have a look at the point for the first time, my mother, Mary, then a child of seven, almost stepped on a rattlesnake. Mr Grainger chopped off its head with an axe. Two years later, Mary Ann bought it.
Mother and daughter and youngest son Bob, together with an elderly aunt, lived here all summer. They had an eight-foot-square kitchen with a cook stove and a tent with a wooden floor. Eaton’s packed the food and delivered it by train. A buried trunk kept the farm milk and eggs cool.
They travelled from Toronto by train, from Southwood by farmer’s wagon, and to the island by canoe. The big sons came on the weekends if they could.
They built a one-room cottage to replace the tent in 1936 and Alcatraz in 1939. A dining room linked the summer kitchen and the living room. 
Mary Bryce by steps of Glenrose house
Mary Bryce by steps of Glenrose house
Uncle Alan Page took over the cottage from his mother in the 1940s while eldest brother Gordon, now married to Edna Grainger, built a cottage on the other side of the island.  It now belongs to Bob’s daughter, Jennifer Code.
When hydro was available in 1954, Alan started building, He added another cabin and the boat house and a few years later a  bedrooom and an indoor bathroom. My brother Gregory added a third cabin for skiing in 1969.
Today Mary would have been 98 years old. The swing overlooking the water was a gift for her15th birthday. She came back to her cottage in 1965 and spent most of her summers here until her death in 1991. Many of you will remember her paddling alone in her red canoe just before sunset.

Margaret at Alcatraz
Margaret at Alcatraz

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