1960s Memories of our Wood Lake Cabin1
For many years, in the 1950s through to the early 1970s, my family had a small cabin on Clement Road, at the south end of Wood Lake. Actually, we shared this cabin with my mum’s two brothers, Les and Cliff Clement, and their families.
To say that our cabin was rustic would be an understatement. It consisted of a large living room (facing the lake), with a kitchen and sleeping area behind it. While our cabin did have electricity, there was no indoor plumbing; there was a small outhouse at the corner of the lot. Drinking water was obtained from an outdoor tap. I can still taste that beautiful water … so clear and cold, very refreshing on a hot summer day.
Generally, my family had two weeks at our cabin, in later years the last two weeks of July. Of course, we were not in school at that time of the year, and so our days at the cabin made little in the way of demands of us. We rowed along the south shore of Wood Lake in our little boat, often accompanied by our beloved cocker spaniel Tinker. Sometimes, Tinker would tire of being in the boat and she would jump into the water and swim back to our cabin.
The lake defined our days, whether we were out in our boat or enjoying a refreshing swim. The bottom of the lake, in front of our cabin, was very sandy, with very little seaweed or other plants. We could walk out in the water a great distance and there was no real drop-off point. As was the belief in those days, after we had a meal, we had to wait an hour before plunging into the water, lest we develop the dreaded cramps! Once that requisite one hour had elapsed, we could then change into our bathing suits and plunge into Wood Lake.
But there were so many other things to do. We had made friends with three children who lived across Clement Road from our cabin, and we spent many hours playing cards or Monopoly with them. Other times we went for long walks, perhaps to take in a game of mini-golf at Danny’s, which was located on Highway 97, just before you got to the south end of Wood Lake. It was a long, dusty walk, but the thought of having a game of mini-golf was more than enough reward for our efforts.
A real treat would be an ice-cream cone from Sam’s Resort, a three-minute walk from our cabin. Another treat would be a bottle of pop. We would walk up the graveled road to the general store on Bottom Wood Lake. My favourite pop was cream soda; I loved the colour, flavour, and sweetness of this beverage. We could make a bottle of pop last the better part of an afternoon; it was such a treat and was not to be squandered.
The highlight of the day was the evening. By then, Dad had come up to the cabin from his work at Kelowna’s City Hall. Mum would always prepare a delicious supper, and then we would have an evening swim – having naturally waited an hour after we had eaten – and then we would have a campfire. During the day, we would gather bits of wood for the much-anticipated campfire. It seemed magical, staring into the burning embers and watching the sparks dance as they rose into the dark summer sky. Sometimes we would roast marshmallows as a treat. The usual campfire songs would be sung and then the fire would be doused with buckets of lake water. We would “pay our respects” in the outhouse, brush our teeth using water from the lake, then head into the cabin for the night, knowing that another busy day awaited us. Ah, life was sweet!