Algonquin Park ( Highland Inn)
highland inn
Highland Inn Hotel ( now demolished )

This is Highland Inn on Cache Lake in Ontario's Algonquin Park. Sadly, it  was torn down in 1956 and there are few  traces left.

This is Peter Kapelle and myself at 139 Sterling Street in Hamilton, Ontario (the home of my mother and her husband Art Bedwell) leaving for summer vacation jobs at Highland Inn. Peter was to be a waiter in the hotel dining room, I was destined to do more humble tasks, as a kitchen assistant and later as a boat boy.

muskoka stop
Made it to Muskoka!. Note cigarette hanging from my mouth.

I seem  to remember paying about $45.00 for the car and Peter's contribution ( he was more mechanically able then I) would be to make necessary repairs.   The immediate problem was the erratic steering.  When got to Highland Inn we discovered the metal bar tying the two front wheels was bent out of shape - badly. We were lucky not to have had an accident on the trip north.

Arrival at the Park's west gate , congratulating ourselves

While at work I teased Peter for breaking his promise to fix up the car.  One night at supper he secretly painted the entire a baby blue and said something like ."So there is your car fixed up and stop complaining!"

boat house

Boat house and dock. Hotel tower just visible.

This where most of the action at Highland Inn occurred - the boathouse and lovers nest, the dance floor above, dock and canoes. You can just see a corner of the inn at the top of the picture. A train from Huntsville has stopped at the Highland Inn station.  It was used to bring vacationers to the Inn and nearby Barlett Lodge which is still there.  My sister Sharon used this train to get to the Tanamakoon summer girls camp on the adjoining Lake Tanamakoon.  Her daughter, Kathryn Ritchie, also went there but I understand she didn't enjoy it nearly as much as her mother.


This is the back of the out-building that housed the sleeping quarters of the staff.  Jim Head, with the McMaster jacket is visiting and so I think was the scowling guy on the upper left. I believe he was a visiting friend of Peter Kapelle, on the upper right. Note I am the only person in the picture smiling. 

Peter, I hate to say, could be a slob.We shared a room in the building behind us, but not for long.  Peter liked to eat peanut butter and crackers in bed and had the habit of cleaning his knife on the edge of our bedside table. I put up with this until I awoke one morning and saw a  mouse sitting on his chest.  That was it! I changed rooms.


girls on dock
Staff of Highland Inn sunning themselves on dock.  Note railway station to right.

Highland Inn had a definite air of  "Dirty Dancing".  Like the 1987 movie of that name, it reeked of sex and would-be sex.  The two brothers in charge of the boat house (I think one was called Willy) had a room there just for that purpose - or so it was rumoured.  The girl shown in the foreground in the picture above was very much my type (brown hair, sultry-look) but I was much too shy to approach.

girls in canoe

The girl sitting in the back of the canoe shown above is Wendy Lowe.  Wendy and I went to Earl Kitchener public school in Hamilton and probably nearby Ryerson Senior Public School.  I know I had a unfrequented crush on her and that she became Peter Kapelle's serious girl friend.  Her family was to related to Art Bedwell, my mother Lorine's second husband (his mother was a Muir).

I started out at the hotel as a kitchen assistant which I hated - the smell of rotten food, a  temperamental chef.  I was given a job at the boat house, taking guests on rides around Cache lake in a boat powered by an outboard motor.

What the guests didn't know is that I couldn't swim.  My cover was blown when I was pushed off the dock and nearly drowned.  My cries for help were at first ignored by people crowding the dock. They thought I was pretending to be drowning. A guest finally realized what was happening, jumped in, grabbed my thrashing body,  pulled me out and gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation.  I still can't swim.

peter hunting

This isbpicture of Peter and me on a hunting trip in Algonquin Park warrants a label like:
 "Stupidest Hunter In The World Show Off Trophy"

Not only did I lean the barrel of the gun against my stomach, I killed the bird by firing down the country road it was crossing.  The bullet went through the bird and passed a stranger coming up the hill beyond.  He was not happy and said so.

When we were packing-up to leave Highland Inn Peter accidentally slammed the car door on my thumb which swelled up instantly and very painfully.  It was'nt until Huntsville that I was able to reach a doctor.  Blood had built up between the nail and the thumb.  He pierced the nail with a tiny drill, the blood spurted out and I felt instant relief.