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Summer fun

My summers were spent in the water, which makes sense since the town I grew up in was surrounded by lakes and rivers. On hot, humid summer days, we would head to the Point on Rainy Lake. We swam and splashed in the water, pretending to be frogs and fish, doing handstands for admiring moms, playing games, and having fun. Rainy Lake is huge – that means it was cold, but we didn’t mind. There was a sand beach for us to throw down a towel and soak up the heat of the sun before venturing into the lake again to cool down.

The Point on a busy summer day. It looks smaller than I remember. Photo courtesy of the Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre.

Pithers Point Park or, as everyone called it, the Point, was the place to be in the summer. It had a beach, picnic tables, slides and swings, a concession stand, and the Government Dock. The Government Dock was a long, wide boardwalk that jutted out into the lake. At the end of the boardwalk a pool was created by having the boardwalk make a square in the water. This was the Deep End – you had to prove you were a strong swimmer to swim there. It was more fun in the shallow water, so we didn’t go there much.

Family and friends at the point. Notice the Deep End dock in the upper left.

It was a quick drive from our house to The Point. Mom would pile all eight of us kids and any friends who wanted to join us into our old van and drive us out there, sometimes making two trips. She would sit in the shade above the beach and read while keeping an eye on us. When we got older, we were allowed bike to out and spend the day, and we did spend the entire day there.

On July 1st, everyone was at the Point. My mom always took a picnic lunch – enough for an army. Everyone who walked by was invited to eat. Had my health inspector brother-in-law seen it, he would have shuddered. Festivities included a log rolling competition organized by the Cousineaus. All the kids were encouraged to compete. It was fun trying to stay on that log. Later, in the evening, the mosquitos joined the people who sat on the beach to watch the fireworks. It was an exciting way to end the day.

Log rolling in the 1970’s or 80’s.
Photo courtesy of Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre

Memories of the Point always make me smile and sigh wistfully. Where I live now, there are no lakes so I have to do laps in the pool. The last lap is always something fun – to celebrate my childhood. I haven’t been brave enough to try a handstand yet. Maybe someday.

What do you remember about your summers? Let me know in the comments box how you spent your summers.

3 thoughts on “Summer fun”

  1. Very good memories! Like you I grew up in Fort and spent my youth at the point, I actually worked at the museum sites there during the summer for 3 years so I know the area well.

    One of the things that really makes me sad these days is the loss of Fun in the Sun, our summer festival which sadly has gone. It was always a great time watching the bathtub boat races, all of the food vendors, a huge pow wow and of course the fireworks on July 1.

    But like your mother I can remember mine sitting in a lawn chair on the beach reading a book while my brother and I swam off the beach. Like you when I got older I graduated to the end of the dock without parental supervision and then over to the less crowded pump house “beach” that was mostly clay. But quiet so us teenagers could flirt and begin the awkward stages of learning the ways of dating.

    I live in Winnipeg now so like you I am not the fish I once was but I still feel that my summer is incomplete without baptizing myself in the cold clear waters of Rainy Lake. Thank you for reminding me of the fun we all had splashing around in the cold clear waters of Lac la Pluie.

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  2. I remember my childhood summers as long days going barefoot, playing outdoors all day, riding bikes all over and, then a game of ‘kick the can’ after dinner until the street light came on. Nearly every house on our street had multiple children, there was no shortage of playmates and it seems the adults were willing to pitch in to help one and other whenever asked or needed. Thanks for sharing!

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