MOTHER'S RECOLLECTIONS OF GRAND BEND
My mother, Pearl Cann, was born and raised on a farm northeast of Exeter, Ontario and when I was a young lad she would often tell me stories of her memories as a girl growing up on the farm. By referring to excerpts from diaries of both my grandfather and my mother it was apparent that in August of most years in the early 1900's, a little time would be taken to come to Grand Bend for short stays to take a break from their busy farm chores.
A trip to Grand Bend was always referred to as "going to the lake." In those early days the horse and buggy were the principal means of transportation. My grandfather's diary does mention going down their road (the "Roman Line") to the corner at the "Thames Road" and getting a bus to the lake (Grand Bend) in 1914 but cars did not become common until after 1917.
My mother told me this story many times in her life so it must have been one of her favourite memories. Her diary indicates that on Sunday, August 19th, 1917 when she would have been 14 years old, her two older sisters and she went to Grand Bend by horse and buggy with two boys who were cousins. This had to be the trip that she recalled most often.
She would talk of having a day of fun on the beach and then staying overnight. However, for whatever reason they did not stay at the hotel or at a friend's cottage or home but decided to spend the night with the horses in the livery stable on Main Street. The thing that stayed in her mind throughout her life of 95 years was the memory of the smells and sounds of sleeping in the loft of the livery stable with hay as her bed, looking down at the horses below.
I now make Grand Bend my home and often think of what it was like here almost a century ago. I doubt very much if any of today's young people who come and enjoy "the Bend" for a holiday will retain any better memories of their stay here than that of my mother's almost a hundred years ago.