ZEB JANES INTERVIEW by Elizabeth Ellwood, 1977
Anyway it is a beautiful spot around Port Franks. I was out there once a month when I was chairman. They made me Chairman of the Parks Committee and we established two parks - one at Exeter and one east of Exeter, put a dam across the river there and put a nice park in there and then two or three other ones, I forget their names, I opened in my time. All the time I was there I stayed with them pretty well, working on them. Ever since I got off, it's been fifteen years since I got off. Anyway, in the meantime, we were working trying to get [the] Pinery, knowing something should be done there.
What was happening to it at the time?
Nothing. It was just laying there. Some of the farmers there were stealing the timber off it. Most of the timber was stolen off it. Anyway, every meeting we had they were wondering what we were going to do about it. We knew we couldn't get money to buy it. I called Mr. Frost up one day. I said, "Les, the Ausable River Authority are taking over The Pinery."
"What are you talking about? You can't buy The Pinery. What are you going to do for money?" "Well," I said, "you are the fellows who have the money.
He said, "What the hell are you talking about? You'll have to pay for it."
I said, "We don't expect to pay for it but you'll be in the park business where you should be."
He was a good, old friend of mine. He was my favourite man down there. Anyway he said, "To hell with you." But he sent one of the ministers up in an airplane the next day to fly over and he started action right away to get The Pinery. That's how we got The Pinery.
And you were responsible for that.
Well, I deserve some credit anyway.
Oh, I would think you must count that as one of your greatest achievements because that's a beautiful park.
I definitely do think it's my greatest achievement. Yes, we wouldn't have got it. We were going to lose it. It cost the government a lot of money. We were too slow starting to get at it, you know. A bunch of fellows in Detroit, more or less, got control of it. They had to practically take it away from them to get it. It was very costly. It's wonderful. It's beautiful. I've been all over the province and other provinces too, but I've never seen anything beautifuller.
The beaches at The Pinery are particularly fine.
You can't beat Lake Huron for good bathing beaches. All this on the east side and south of us good bathing beaches, nice sand and everything else, you know and, of course, when they got it there was a huge area there in the centre that had been stripped of timber that they immediately started in to reforest it, you know, and one day I got a call at home. Say, there's a fellow in there, in The Pinery cutting timber just about this time, you know, so I just called the provincial police and told them about it and they went up and they found the timber, the logs stacked up back of the barn so they made him pay for them all. There was no more timber stolen.
You made them plant the trees again too?
Well, no. The government planted trees.
Can you tell me what year The Pinery was established?
I can't. I don't know. I used to... All the time I was in politics, you see, we're going back twenty years or more than that. I used to drop in there every time I was up there. We used to be in Grand Bend a lot. I'd always drop into The Pinery, their office and talk things over. Before that the Ausable Authority had bought an area right opposite where we figured the gateway would be into it, you see? We were making all kinds of plans. We bought the five acres there so we basically turned it over to the government and now their offices are there. A couple of policemen live there, the superintendent there. I think there's three or four homes in there.
And you can see them from the road.
Ya, nice homes there. And I used to be in there all the time and talk with the superintendent and everybody else.