Lambton Heritage Museum
Grand Bend, Ontario

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Grand Bend - Our Stories, Our Voice




In 1906 Letters Patent were granted, forming Wah - dah - keh, The Maple Grove Syndicate Ltd. The community of Maple Grove was founded a few years earlier, when close friends Frank Lawson and Charles Somerville purchased land from both the Canada Company and from Joseph Ravelle. The property had a spendid beach, beautiful maple trees and a picturesque ravine, just large enough for ten cottages. Lawson and Somerville agreed that each would occupy one cottage and rent four to friends. The name Wah-dah-keh was chosen because of the Indian burial ground north of the property. In 1901 ten cottages were built, five being one-storey and five being two- storey. It did not take much time before the renters wanted to make permanent arrangements and the decision was made to form a syndicate.

Since the development was a family project, it was understood that no member of the Syndicate would rent his cottage without the approval of the other members.

In addition to the cottages, a general Wigwam was built as a community meeting place. Stables were also erected to house the horses and conveyances of the cottagers from London and Parkhill. Trees were planted, and a bathing area was marked off.

It wasn't long before the Syndicate realized that vandalism and theft were a problem in the winter and they decided to hire a year round caretaker, providing him with a cottage in which to live.

The ten cottages were built in two rows, forming the arc of a circle. Each was given an Indian name chosen from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Hiawatha: O-at-ka (House Among the Trees), Mu-Je-Kee-Wis (West Wind), Minni-Ha-Ha (Laughing Water), Ne-Ne-Moo-Sha (Sweetheart), Kary-Ann-Koo (Resting Place), Sha-Wan-Da-See (South Wind), Wa-Bu-No (East Wind), Wa-Wa-naissa (Whippoorwill), Il-Go-Wa (Welcome and O-Pe-Che (Robin).

By 1914 the Maple Grove Syndicate drew up a set of rules for the cottagers. They included:

Sunday Observance -- The Company especially desires that due reverence be given this day and request that no undue frivolity or unsecular conduct be indulged in. No pleasure swimming is allowed, but bathing may be indulged in quietly before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

Children and young people must not use boats. To prevent the loss of boats, all persons using same must see that they are drawn up on the beach to a safe distance to avoid storms, and that the oars are left in the boat.

No washing of feet at the pump will be allowed.

No garbage, banana or orange skins, bottles, glass or greasy water is to be thrown on the grounds or around trees or shrubs.

Dish and wash water is to be carried a reasonable distance from the cottage and every care is to be taken to keep the grounds in a clean and sanitary condition.

In 2009 Maple Grove continues to thrive as a community of descendants of the first members of Wah - dah - keh, The Maple Grove Syndicate Ltd. Each cottager has a share of stock in the Syndicate. At the annual meeting the shareholders decide on the improvements to be made. Each member is assessed the same amount towards the upkeep and improvement of the grounds.


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