Lambton Heritage Museum
Grand Bend, Ontario

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Grand Bend - Our Stories, Our Voice
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BEACH O' PINES

The land along the shores of Lake Huron south of Grand Bend was owned by the Canada Company, who acquired it through a Royal Grant from the British Crown. Through the years it became known by natives and travellers as "The Pinery."

In 1929, summer resort developer Frank Salter and friends found themselves in Grand Bend taking shelter from a storm. Salter was well-known in Detroit, Michigan as a lake resort and country club developer. He and his friends explored the countryside around Grand Bend and he recognized this spot as one where he could set up an all-inclusive luxury resort.

Salter named the 5 000 acre parcel of land that he purchased from the Canada Company "Beach o' Pines." He envisioned a resort that would include 6 miles of beach, 10 miles of stream and river, 40 miles of natural walks and bridle paths, long avenues, flat and rolling land, high knolls and quiet dells. The resort would be suitable for golf, riding, hunting, fishing, swimming, motor boating and surf riding. Frank Salter's grand vision never materialized as the plans were stopped by the Great Depression. Today Beach O' Pines is a private gated community located on the shores of Lake Huron in Lambton County, Ontario, Canada.

In the 1940s Beach O' Pines was the site of what is considered one of the most important real estate and civil rights cases in Ontario and Canadian history, in which the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a restrictive covenant that prohibited the ownership of lots or cottages by specified ethnic and religious minorities. The landmark court case involved Bernard Wolfe and Annie Maude Noble versus the homeowners of Beach O' Pines. Wolfe, a Jewish merchant from London, Ontario faced court challenges when he purchased a cottage property at Beach O' Pines in contravention of this covenant. The covenant restricting the ownership of the property was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal but was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada in a vote of 6 to 1 because the language used in the text was ambiguous and any such restrictive covenant was unconstitutional.

 

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