Trips to Grand Bend Zoo kept them entertained and we were there on the opening day of the Lambton Heritage Museum. [Ted Relouw's love of animals and hobby of raising homing pigeons as a boy in Holland grew into the Pineridge Zoo south of Grand Bend after he moved to Canada in the early 1950s. He started to gather animals and at one point had 28 varieties of ducks and 17 varieties of pheasants. When his hobby became too expensive he decided to open his zoo to the public in 1970. The large birds -- peacocks, turkeys, geese -- had the run of the 22 acres property. The more dangerous animals -- sheep, goats, bear, lion, llamas and ostriches had sturdy cages and large fenced pens in which to roam. The zoo has since closed.] The playground established by great grandfather Bert got lots of use and impromptu ball games were often played on the ball diamond. As they grew older we took them to the Shipka Drive-in where the older two would watch a double feature while the 4 little ones slept in the back. On rainy days we had indoor picnics, played board games and made crafts; there wasn't a video console in sight. We did have a tired old TV and Pat and I would rent the odd video from the gas station on Highway 21. Those summers cemented the relationships between second cousins which still endure today.
Trips into the village have always been a highlight of a weekend at the cottage. Cam was always willing to load kids into our large station wagon for a visit to the Cheryl Ann for ice cream. There was often a stop at the mini golf as well. As they grew older we felt comfortable dropping them off at Main St. with a pocket full of change. One of the great joys of the Bend is the relative freedom children can enjoy that isn't available in their home towns.
Of course the beach and water are what Grand Bend is all about. Swimming lessons were available at a house in Southcott Pines and later on a farm near Parkhill. All the grandchildren were taken to these, used life jackets on the beach and grew up with a healthy respect for water. Pat's husband Dave taught the kids to waterski and boogie board behind his boat. Jumping from the dunes and playing in the gully provided hours of entertainment. Even finding a quiet spot to read a book was a joy to our two avid readers.