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60 Years on Deer Lake

My family has enjoyed the past 60 years on Deete Lake (Deer Lake). My father and mother, Gord and Edith Durward and my uncle and aunt, Henry and Minnie Bayman, bought 200 acres on the bay in 1958. Their dream was to develop a campsite that families would enjoy. My cousins (Lois and Noreen) my brother (Greg) and I spent the first two summers making campsites (with the help of our parents!) It was a lot of work but we also were able to enjoy the serenity of the lake. In 1960 the campsite was open to the public and for the next 25 years the families ran the camp. The camp was called Dur-Bay Campsite (DURward and BAYman).


The campsite at its peak had 100 sites - all very large with no running water! It was true wilderness camping. The camp business was run out of tents that my mother and aunt sewed. We children helped by renting boats, selling worms, lifeguarding and delivering bread goods made by Mrs. Norm Minor. My grandmother, Elizabeth Bayman, ran the store that was at the campsite. Mr. Schnieder who owned the farm across the road took ice from the lake, stored it in a barn located on the property and sold it to the campers in the summer.


In 1975 five acres was severed from the camp and Gord and Edith Durward and Henry and Minnie Bayman built cottages on the land. Since there was no hydro we used propane lights. Hydro was installed in 1980. My uncle had a stroke in 1985 and the camp continued on. In 1989 my parents, aunt and uncle decided to sell the camp to their cherished campers. That is when South Deete Bay Holding Company came into existence.


My father and mother sold their cottage to my husband and I in 1991. We enjoyed the cottage until it was destroyed by fire in 2009. We built our current cottage that year and continue to enjoy it. My cousin Bill Short inherited my aunt and uncles cottage. Bill's cottage which is adjacent to ours was saved from the fire - thanks to Ralph Michels and his grandson. Since Bill Shorts passing in 2011 his daughter, Laura Short, enjoys the cottage. My Aunt Florence and Uncle Ray built a cottage on the main lake and it was sold when they died.


It pleases me that there is an association who cares about this piece of god's land. I am grateful for sixty years on Deer Lake (and hopefully many more).


Audrey Benninger

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