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History of Camp Keewaydin

by on May 17, 2010

GIRL GUIDE CAMP KEEWAYDIN

In 1948, the then Huronia Area purchased property on Lake Huron in Ashfield Township, 12 miles from Kincardine and approx, 20 miles from Goderich. Mrs. K.B. Clysdale of St. Marys was the Area Commissioner, Mrs. Bruce Connell of Galt was the Area Camp Adviser and Mrs. Elizabeth McKim of Lucknow was the Provincial Camp Commissioner. These ladies were responsible for choosing the site. It was named Keewaydin, which is the Indian name for four winds and it certainly was appropriate as the camp was up on a bluff with 100 steps down to the beach and there were no trees.

There were no buildings on the property so one of the first jobs of the Committee was to do this. At first, there were only a couple of small brown bunkies, then Algoma and Chippewa were built. (These were built by Glen Millson of St.Marys.) There were no roads inside the camp and the water was all at what is now known as Algoma site so had to be carried by hand up the hills to the upper sites. No grass was cut so the weeds were knee high. Heavy army bell tents were purchased and these were put up by a few volunteers before the girls arrived. (summer 1949)

Paid cooks were hired to do the cooking for the whole camp at times 200-300 and everyone ate in one building. Mrs. Clysdale ordered all the food for the summer and it was delivered and stacked in Algoma. Meat was stored in lockers in Kincardine as there was no refrigeration.. The staff had to go in every day for it. Later, the ice box was built on the back of Algoma.

At this time, Mrs. Clysdale spent her summers at the family cottage and could not be reached so when any problems came up, they called the Camp Adviser, Mrs. Connell of Galt. She spent so much time running back and forth that finally she and her daughter stayed at the camp and Mr Connell came up on weekends to help out. There was only one family car and Mrs. Connell had it at the camp so Mr. Connell had to come up by bus.

From this beginning, under Mrs. Connell’s direction and with much volunteer help from around the Area, the camp was developed into the beautiful comfortable camp we have today. The whole Connell family gave freely of their time talents and money more than anyone else and enjoyed doing it and watching the happy girls who enjoyed their camping there.

In 1961, Huronia Area was divided into Huronia and Conestoga. It was agreed by the Executive that Conestoga would keep the camp and pay Huronia $9 000 for their share. In 1963 the man in the adjoining farm died and in order to keep the camp from having cottages built all around it, it was decided to purchase the farm.

The Area did not have the money as they had just paid Huronia so Mr. & Mrs. Connell bought the farm. Part of the acreage was sold to the next farmer. Mr Robb and the remainder was turned over to the camp under Girl Guides of Canada.

The Connells gave the camp a no-interest loan which was paid back in two year by Conestoga Area mostly through the sale of Girl Guide cookies.

Mrs. Connell became Area Commissioner in 1956 and thus had the authority to do many things at the camp. It is due to her wise spending of all monies and volunteer help of her friends and family as well as the Guide people that have made the camp operate with a surplus every year. Mr. Connell’s business friends did a great deal to supply material and equipment free of charge and over the years the neighbours and  business people knew the Connell family so well that they went out of their way to help went out of their way to help.

Mrs Connell (Taffy) volunteered at the camp up to and including the summer of 1972.

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From → Camp Histories

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