Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Walking through the Past

This is all that's left of Hyram Wilder's old barn.  It was old when our grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth, came here in 1905.

Located well away from the small house, and all the other little outbuildings that made up Hyram's holding, it now shelters under the trees beside one of our ski trails leading to the Hidden Lake.  A beautiful example of dove-tail construction is still evident.  The space between buildings was designed as fire-safety measure. There's not a lot of water up there. Fire could spread fast, and with the source of night lighting being gas-lanterns and candles, fire was a constant threat.

Achmed, who never misses a nature hike if he possibly can join in, Taffy the puppy, and I were up in our back fields this morning. The crust on the snow is incredible -- you can walk anywhere.  This time last year, these fields were clear of snow. Not now. It's a blanket of white, so bright it demands sunglasses.

Hyram was quite the character. He, his father, and four brothers were the first pioneers onto these lands.  In fact, Hyram cleared the land at Bondi itself. Seeing the light regarding the future of agriculture on the Canadian Shield, he sold his acreage to Mr. McIelwain, and moved onto this piece of land located behind the resort.  Mr. McIelwain sold to Joseph Tapley -- and then hired back on to help run the farm for the first several years, since what Joseph knew about farming could be contained in a very slim volume.  Hyram preferred to work with the horses... He'd love that now we gallop and train over cross country fences up there, with several of the jumps incorporating his labouriously stacked stone walls.  There was money in horses, before the automobile came along, so he did well enough. He did even better with a sideline in moonshine whiskey.  Local legend holds that when he was told the "government men" were in Dwight, and heading his way, he tied his still to a rope and tossed it into the Hidden Lake.  This little lake is actually a black spruce bog. Bottomless...  The rope was, shall we say, past it's best before date.  As far as anyone knows, the still is down there yet.

There was a running feud between Joseph and Hyram -- evidently the Tapley encyclopedia of farming lore didn't have a chapter on fencing in livestock. Our cattle were repeatedly to be found in Hyram's fields.  He threatened to sue. To show there was no animosity, he named his black heifer for Joseph's daughter, Violet.  And asked Joe to help him write up his will.  He could blend a mean whiskey, but he wasn't very literate.

Brian and Nancy, at Hyram's old barn -- it was already
close to 100 years old by this time.

Hyram was a great help to our grandparents, teaching Elizabeth how to drive a team of horses, and helping with the stock and horses.  He suffered a stroke, and was brought to Elizabeth's door. With a longstanding tradition of wearing the same clothes summer and winter, citing that "what keeps out the cold will keep out the heat," he wasn't someone you wanted to stand downwind of.  Elizabeth refused to have him in the house until she had stripped and scrubbed him, dressed him in clean clothes and tossed his into the laundry before she  tucked him into a warm bed.  It didn't help. He passed on, and one of the neighbours commented that it was inevitable, given that Elizabeth had "washed off all that protective dirt."

Dr. Stewart, who built the Stewart Memorial Church in Dwight, had known the Wilder's before they relocated to the wilds of Lake of Bays. The minister would come up in the summer's and travel about, preaching from the doorsteps of their various households.  I like to think of that, of the good preacher thundering out a sermon on hell and damnation, while down below, in the hidden depths of the spruce bog, moonshine whiskey percolated silently through it's still, and in the fields our cattle roamed a little too freely.  Ah, those were the days...


  1. I love your family history, Nancy! It helps us understand how we made it to where we are now.

  2. Thank you, Nancy. Enjoyed that little bit of folklore.