Clarendon & Miller Community Archives (CMCA) will be sharing their latest year-long research covering the topic of Lodges: Past and Present. This project aims to recognize the huge economic contribution that local lodges/housekeeping cottages made in the past and continue to make to the township. In addition to Lodge information, the Committee collected information about Housekeeping Cottages to assist with the Accommodations listing website that the Frontenac News initiated last year. On May 6th at Clar-Mill Hall in Plevna starting at 1 p.m. CMCA will transform the Hall into a Lodge-like setting, allowing for an interactive format. Guest speaker and well-known country entertainer, Neville Wells, will provide his personal experiences of growing up at his family-owned Mosque Lake Lodge. Visitors can browse the many photo boards and researched documents of North Frontenac Lodges and Housekeeping Cottages. A panel of lodge owners/workers will share their expertise and engage in a lively discussion with the audience.
CMCA thanks The Frontenac News for publishing a three-part series about Lodges: Past and Present as an introduction to the May 6th event. The first Lodge to be highlighted: Coxvale/ Cedar Crest Lodge.
This postcard depicts the first known “lodge” at Coxvale. The building was part of the farm built by Donald and Maggie Cox. Their children were: Richard, Charlie, Guy, Nellie, Hilda, Bobby, Irene and Orpha. They rented cottages that were across the bay and on both sides of the old main road. Cox’s sold to Fred and Jean Lemke in 1945.
In 1937 Fred and Jean Lemke bought property at Coxvale on Big Gull Lake which included some sleeping cabins and a dining room. This was the beginning of Cedar Crest Lodge. The next few years Fred built several cottages and he and Jean made plans for a dining room. Fishing was excellent and Fred was always in demand for guiding.
Cedar Crest in 1945
In 1945, they bought the Cox home (first used as dining-room and later became a store). Jean served home-cooked meals with homemade bread, rolls and pies.
A store was built in 1947 and during the 50’s Fred added more cottages. During this time a building that had been used as a dance hall was converted to a cottage. At this point they had 13 cottages. In 1960, the old house was torn down and a new home built; the Lemkes purchased the house and three cottages on the other side of the bridge. They lived in that house while Fred did most of the carpenter work on the new home.
Upon completion of the new house, the store was moved. A lunch counter was opened and light lunches served. The lounge had a juke box and a pinball machine; it was a meeting place for young people on the lake in the 60’s. Cottages, now numbering 17, were rented into the late fall when Fred guided the hunters and Jean prepared the meals.
People kept returning to Cedar Crest, not just for fishing and hunting, but because of the hospitality of the Lemkes. Fred’s stories of the early years at Cedar Crest Lodge were a hit with renters. According to Fred, the last lake trout he saw in Big Gull Lake was in 1940. The biggest walleye he saw from the lake weighed 11 pounds and 3 ounces and was caught by Earl Franz of Ohio.
On Dec.25, 1988 Jean passed away. Fred suffered a stroke in January 1992 and passed away July 6, 1992. Daughter, Barb and son-in-law, Harold Way continued the business for some years.