Blue Water

The Early Days

The Gravelle/Glanton Islands in MacDonald Bay

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The deeds to the two inhabited islands in MacDonald Bay were filed in 1950. How two island cottages came to be built by an American takes some explanation that begins with the coal ferry that ran between Cobourg, ON and Rochester, NY. Many Canadians from the area used the ferry to find work in Rochester. Our father, Norb Gravelle met several people including Gordy Toms from Havelock and Herm White from Trent River. They convinced dad to join them deer hunting where he met Garn Emery.

It's important to note that Dad, freshly home from WWII had a restless spirit. He worked with our grandfather but liked to roam. Our grandfather called his son “A ten-dollar millionaire” because as soon as he earned some cash, he was off on an adventure. When Garn Emery told him about the policy that allowed people to claim land for cottages our father jumped at the chance. In the 1940s and 1950s, to encourage development of cottage country, individuals could claim land with the condition that they build a structure worth $2,000 within 2 years. (This is how many of the original cottages came to Kosh.) Our father claimed the smaller of the two inhabitable islands and he convinced a friend, Charlie Bashaw, to build on the larger one. Charlie backed out so dad finished both and received deeds in 1950. When our mom and dad got married in 1957, dad sold the larger island to our grandfather for cash needed for a down payment on our family home. When grandpa Gravelle died in 1959, dad’s brother Orville and sister Wilma Glanton became proud owners. 


As “Baby Boomer” children, we had the joy of coming to our cottage as soon as school ended to stay with our mother until Labour Day weekend. This was true for a large group of summer friends who met up at JoAnn’s Store, spent all day in our bathing suits, never wore shoes, had sun burns on our sunburns and bug bites on our bug bites. It was a different time back then. We all learned to water ski behind a 25hp Johnson on a 14’ aluminum boat. We had no internet, no streaming, no satellite TV, just one station and our radios and records to entertain us. 

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What we did have is life-long friendships and, as Neil Young sings “memories to spare” 
(Helpless). By Ralph Gravelle