Going to Grandpa's Lake.

My grandfather passed away in October of 2017. I was, and still often am, beside myself in disbelief — even though he was 89 years old and in perpetually failing health. I think that when loved ones are in positions like that, we tend to convince ourselves that things are going to magically improve and they’re going to get better and go home and live happily for many more years, but it’s a naive perspective. When it’s our time, it’s our time and we have to allow it.


Young attractive man, 1940's.


He owned a small parcel of land at a lake here in central Alberta, on Lac la Nonne. Around 15 years ago he parked a trailer there and built a solid shelter over top of it to keep the weather off. He built a fair-sized deck in the front, and painted it god-awful baby blue. The land is also home to an outhouse and a few other outbuildings, including one that we’ve always just known as “Number 5”.


Small old bunkhouse with "No. 5" on front


This highly photogenic little building is currently used as a catch-all for lake-stuff and tools, but actually has more history attached to it. When my mother was a child, long before my grandpa owned the lot, she attended summer camp at this lake, where there were little bunkhouses with “No. 4”, “No. 9”, and of course — “No. 5” on them. She can’t say for sure which house she stayed in,  but it is interesting to know that a structure with such a seemingly insignificant past has come full circle in our family. I know that one of the neighbours also has one of these former bunkhouses on their land, and on the other side (where my great aunt and uncle reside), there is possibly another which they’ve converted into a sort of den. Any suggestions on what we should do with No. 5?

It sounds contradictory, but now that my grandfather is gone, I’m trying to get out to the lake more often. We didn’t have that much opportunity to go when he was alive — maybe because we respected it as his place of escape and serenity, or maybe just because it was less interesting then. I feel an immense guilt when I’m working there, which motivates me to continue. The guilt lies in the fact that I regret not being there as much as I probably should have been for him, fixing things and running errands and simply helping out. Maybe I was afraid to admit that he was getting as old as he was; maybe he was afraid, too. 

Black dog in the summer sun.

I am taking the reigns as much as the family will let me, and investing my time, effort and dollars into improving the land. I want everyone to enjoy it together and to eventually pass it on to those after us. What would you do to make it great? 


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