This is my 36th summer of ‘going to the lake’. I’ve been going to Sylvan Lake since the year I was born. On almost every weekend between May long weekend and Labour Day…and usually beyond.
Having two sets of clothes and driving up and down the good ol’ number 2 (hwy) multiple times a year, is my normal. The cabin, is actually my parent’s cabin. We had a small cabin in town until I was 14, then they built the one we have now. Back when my social life was waaaay more important than spending every weekend with my parents. Fights ensued.
A couple years later, it was THE place to be on weekends for me and my friends. As soon as a few of us had our driver’s licenses, we would all go up and down the good ol’ number 2 for a good party place. Dirt bikes, campfires and maybe a few underage beers, made it the place to be for me and many of my friends. Some of who still some out at least once a summer.
When Mike and I started dating, he came too. When we got married, my room became OUR room. When we had Abby, she moved into our room. When we had Bella we realized after one weekend that all four of us in one bedroom wasn’t going to work, so we bought a trailer. We parked the trailer at the cabin, and it’s only left its spot about 4 times.
Now the cabin holds a special place in 4 other lives. Mike loves it and has a definite ‘role’. He’s spent so much time tinkering with my dad over the years, that he just comes out & gets to work now. It’s his 15th summer this year. Which is crazy. I just did the math….long hand….with a pen. And the kids adore it. It’s also their ‘normal’. Charlie was there when he was 5 days old. The first words out of his mouth when he woke up Saturday morning was “I sleep in trailer tonight! Yay!”
Sylvan Lake holds a special place in my heart for more reasons than just the cabin. My Dad grew up there. Back when it was a very small town. He says they were one of the last families to get running water. At one time, some of his family lived in the stone house in town that is now a spa. My uncle told me he used to keep chickens in his room. The room where I got a massage last summer.
This summer marks Sylvan Lake’s Centennial – it was incorporated in 1913. Over 100 years ago, in 1898, my Great, Great Grandfather, Alex Loiselle, came to Sylvan Lake, and was the first permanent settler. My family has a rich history there, and while I’m excited that it now has a lot of the comforts of a big city (Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire & a Tim Hortons), I still get nostalgic for the ‘small town’ it once was when I was a kid. A cabin town that got crazy busy in the summer, and absolutely spooky quiet in the winter. Where new shops and businesses would pop up every spring, and wouldn’t survive the winter months. Where we’d line up for 15 minutes outside the ‘yellow castle’ to get ice cream cones, and spend rainy days going up and down the aisles of the video store. Where we’d spend almost all of July and August as kids – Dad would come up Friday after work and leave early Monday morning. We’d spend the hot days on the public beach with Mom & her friends she’s known since school, and run across the street for A&W fries & gravy for lunch. The cooler days were spent in the laudromat & public library. Weekends were spent on a more private beach by my uncle’s house listening to Footloose (on cassette) and eating taco chips. And hours and HOURS on and behind the boat. The smell of the jerrycans of gas for the boat would linger all week in our vehicle.
Now, I’m so glad to have our own private lakefront property. The public beach is crazy crowded, and boating on the weekend terrifies me – the lake is filled with boats. I’m so grateful we’re making special memories for our kids. The old-school trampoline with no pads or nets, the swingsets, the trailer, quads, frogs, swimming, hot tubs with Grumpa (and sometimes Gramma too) in the mornings, followed by his greasy breakfasts. Most weekends have a trip to the dollar store or Wal-Mart for some toys, and an ice cream cone on the way home to Calgary. And there’s always ‘Beer o’clock’ – 4pm on Saturdays, when my Uncle and Auntie come for a visit, and bring the kids a pop. The only pop they ever get – and then we all laugh as we watch them get crazy sugar highs. Beer o’clock is always followed by a huge BBQ dinner with all the fixin’s. After the kids go to bed, the adults stay up and play games – Cards, Dominoes or Dice Games. All of which we’d forget all the rules to, if it wasn’t for Grumpa.
Welcome back, summer. Here’s to another summer of memories.