A. Douglas Alkenbrack - Memories of a Daughter
Oct 12, 2013
By Eleanor Grennell
June 2nd, 2012 will mark 100 years since Douglas Alkenbrack’s birth. He was born in Rydalbank in northern Ontario near Saulte St. Marie. His father Claude left Southern Ontario to work with his brother Roy in a lumber camp near Rydalbank Ontario. His mother was Flora McKinnon who Claude met while living and working in Rydalbank. The two brothers Roy and Claude married McKinnon sisters. Claude returned to Flinton with Flora and baby Douglas where they lived for several years before moving to the Napanee area. They had five sons, Douglas, Bruce, Wes, Morrri-son and Wallace. All the brothers lived most of their lives in Napanee. Douglas and Bruce joined their Uncle R. W. Kimmerly in the lumber business in Napanee. Wes joined the business after he served in WW II in 1947.
Douglas became very active in municipal politics first serving as a Napanee councillor in 1952 then deputy reeve and elected Mayor of Napanee in 1955. He then ran as a conservative candidate in the 1962 federal election and was elected as the Federal Member of Parliament for the riding of Prince Edward Lennox on June 18, 1962. The riding included the area south from Napanee up as north as Eganville and included the area sur-rounding Skootamatta Lake and his brief childhood home of Flinton. He was re-elected in 1963 and 1965. He was re-elected in 1968, 1972 and 1974 to represent the riding of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. He retired from Politics in 1979 after many long and successful years serving the people in his riding. He was well admired by many people in his community.
In early September of 1969 my father, my husband Herbert, my grandfather Claude decided to take a drive north from Napanee. When they arrived at Cloyne, Claude suggested a left turn to drive in the old logging road that goes through to Skootamatta and Sheldrake lakes. At this point in time the road twisted and turned around the rocks and hills and was very narrow. Claude’s idea was that he would show his Uncle’s property his Uncle had used, through a quick claim deed. There had been an old homestead where he raised beef cattle back in the late 1800’s. Claude had spent time there when he was a boy. The homestead was situated near the landing between Sheldrake and Skootamatta lakes. They identified the spot where the old house had stood after finding the remnants of the root cellar. It sat on a rise looking down at the stream that flows out of Sheldrake Lake into Skootamatta. The old ranch was run by Robert W. Kimmerly, Claude’s Uncle who subsequently opened a General Store in Flinton. Doug-las’s poem “Village on the Skoot” is written about his boyhood days spent at his Great Uncle and Aunt’s store in Flinton.
They drove on east for a short distance up the road and down a steep hill following Skootamatta Lake. They discovered a “for Sale” sign at the roadside and decided to have a look at the property for sale. They found the owner of the cottage in residence. He introduced himself as Gordon Lac from Toronto. He told the asking price for the cottage and property including a 12-foot aluminum boat and motor was $11,000. The lake view from the cottage was spectacular looking out towards the island in the centre of the Sheldrake Bay and to the point on the east towards the wide expanse of the lake. Doug and Herb talked it over and felt they could buy the property jointly. They put together an offer and within a few days were the proud owners.
To the east was a cottage then owned by an Oshawa man named Valdemars Vientnieks. He died in a car accident in 1975 and as a result we were offered first option to buy the property from his mother. We bought this second cottage and it is now owned by my brother and sister-in-law Doug and Shelley Alkenbrack who build a second building on the property years later. We now call the properties our family compound and the land and the cottages have been the glue that has brought such closeness in our family.
Our family was large and one of those characters much larger than life was also my cousin Paul, “Big Paul” as we affectionately called him, not to be confused with my son known in his childhood as “Little Paul.” Paul had a loud laugh, rolling belly and was adored by all the kids. He would take them for rides in this old wreck of a vehicle he called the “Dune Buggy.” Paul is also no longer with us but his memories are shared alongside my father’s.
We think of our father and grandfather Doug often and fondly, as he was such an integral part of our family cottage experience. Our mother Nan shared his love for the cottage and the two of them would pack the car full of food and treats before leaving for the cottage for a weekend or a sum-mer retreat. Mother, who is still with us at 92, was a wonderful cook and we all enjoyed the great meals and delicious “best ever” pies she made. There would often be eighteen of us for a sit down dinner. Dad usually washed the dishes. He will continue to live on in spirit and we all remember all the great lessons he has passed on to us. This year will be 43 years for our family to have been cottaging on the lake. Our families share so many happy memories and have made so many close friends who I am sure share very similar experience.
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