Lambton Heritage Museum
Grand Bend, Ontario

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Grand Bend - Our Stories, Our Voice




Few places in the world are so nearly deserted as a summer resort in the winter time. During warm weather the famed Lake Huron resort of Grand Bend booms with more than 20,000 inhabitants-some transient, and some permanent, at least for the summer. On weekends and holidays, thousands more swell this number. But, comes the first threat of cooler days and longer nights, the population begins to dwindle-slowly at first, and then rapidly.

Snow fills the Dodgem pavilion. The hot dog and ice cream signs squeak in the snowy wind, forlornly calling vanished patrons. Wooden cottages that not long before sheltered perspiring vacationers now stand bare and forgotten as snow slowly imbeds them.

But some people stay at Grand Bend. A faithful few maintain that necessary link between summer and summer. The winter population stays quite close to the 650 figure. Many are carpenters, plumbers, and electricians who thrive during the winter. They make needed repairs to the seven hundred cottages in Grand Bend village, and do whatever new building is required for another vacation season.

Vital activities continue, too. Churches, stores, a few garages, and doctors, all keep going. And, of course the children go to the public school where more than 150 are enrolled. One hotel stays open all winter, although the staff diminishes from twenty to three, and it's here that the Lions Club meets twice each month.

But the Lakeview dance casino, open every night during the warm weather, is closed. Forty attendants are on duty here on summer nights, but now it coldly echoes to the footfalls of a lone watchman.

The bathing beach is a glacial graveyard. On balmy Sunday evenings, hundreds sit on this same beach and listen to the hand concerts.

But, perhaps the most startling and awesome thing of all about a summer resort in the winter is the quiet. Now and then, crunching ice sounds from the beach. At intervals, a carpenter's hammer rattles the crisp air. Occasionally, even the voices of children at play break the stillness.

But altogether these sounds are only a few muffled decibels of the happy clamor of Grand Bend when summer is at its height.


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