I was born in 1953 in London Ontario but my father had been up to these parts since 1929 and remembers the Big Fire. We always resided in the Stokes Bay area and knew everyone there. I came up here 6 months old the May 24th weekend of ’54 and stayed in Stokes Bay. After that a few years, my whole family rented cottages in Old Woman’s River, Sandy Beach area. Finally, my dad bought some property from Bill Stoddart who was a road grader operator. Dad got older and back in the mid 70s he actually sold it. I was working down in London area but was always attracted to coming here, to Sandy Beach is where I like to come.
In the ‘80s I did a whole bunch of exploratory zodiac tours around the whole peninsula. From staying out with Jack Vaughan at the lighthouse at Cove Island and all of the park area before it was the National Park. And staying out in all the little bays and inlets all around the peninsula from Sauble Beach to basically Meaford area. We would do it every weekend, all in the ‘80s when I was working for Grey Hound and could only get so much time off.
In the late 80s I decided I had to have a little place up here and I couldn’t afford the high prices of lots that they are now and of course you could buy a lot of land for $500 and a $1000 would buy a lot, back in the 60s, waterfront. A thousand bucks would buy a lot. I leased at Cape Croker a lot off the Waulkey family behind the store at Cape Croker Park in 1990 and built a little cabin on there. That went until 2008 and then there was some trouble over there with Hope Bay and didn’t know what was going on with the leasing and I picked it up and moved it up to Ralph McLean’s little piece of property up in Purple Valley just north of where the Maple Syrup Festival. I picked the whole house up and moved it, the little blue barn, moved up the road seven kilometres and plopped it down on three acres of land. I’ve been there ever since, retired from Greyhound Lines of Canada after 32 years—no accidents—lucky. I am happily retired and still enjoying the Bruce, kayaking all over the place and hanging out with some of the good old boys like Normie Gilbert from Purple Valley who is just full of stories. I’ve enjoyed Bruce County for years! What’s the best thing about Bruce County? The people are really cool. I really like the people up here. I like the lighthouses. I am a lighthouse historian. I’ve been out with the zodiacs trying to photograph all the Imperial 6 towers around the area and took quite an interest in that. I like the slowness although they’ve found us up here and now they’re coming in droves. I stay home in the summer anymore. I only come out in the winter!