GUEST COLUMN: For everything there is a season, including the beach

This postcard offers an aerial view of Canatara Park beach before the arrival of paved parking lots, lifeguard building and other amenities. Dave Burwell Collection, Sarnia Historical Society

Marg Johnson

Growing up in the ‘60s in Point Edward had to be the best place ever. Growing up in the winter there took delight to new heights.

Dad knew people round Wyoming who had toboggan hills, and every year he made a massive skating rink on our double lot on Arthur Street, from the house almost to the hedge and swings in the back.

Being an electrician, he put up a massive spotlight so the neighbourhood boys could play hockey late into the night. And play they did: Joey Martin, Billy Murray, Gary Ferris, Michael & Stephen Jay, and too many to remember right now.

I loved to watch dad water the rink after the boys left, so it’d be ready for the next night.

But even snowy days become tiresome for children locked inside during blizzard condition. My poor mother.

As the eldest, about age 8, it fell upon me to help keep the other three children occupied, and I decided we should go swimming in Canatara Park – because it never snowed there.

There we were, four eager children, desperate for entertainment. My youngest sister began the chant: “We goin’ fwimmin’, goin’ fwimmin’, fwimmin,” and we all chimed in, “Yay. Swimming. Swimming. Swimming!”

Dad held two jobs at the time, and I recall him coming in the back door shaking snow off his shoulders and stomping his feet from the cold. After getting nowhere with mother, we took our appeal to a higher power and met him at the top of the stairs. Again we took up the chant: “Yay. Swimming. Swimming. Swimming!”

His calmly delivered weather report didn’t deter us. Finally he said, “Well, go get ready.” We were off like a herd of elephants, running upstairs to dig out our swimsuits and towels.

I remember the look mother gave him, and his shrug as we galloped past.

Within minutes, I had everyone in swimsuits with towels gathered at the back door, and dad opening it, saying, “I’m just gonna warm up the car.” The gust of cold made it clear we needed further protection.

When dad came back inside again we had added winter hats and mitts and scarves to our swimsuits and towels. A second blast of bitter cold from the door made it clear we needed more winter gear, at least until we got to Canatara Park. We added snowsuits and boots.

Dad picked up each of us and literally threw us in the back seat of the car. We were warm and we were going swimming.

But when we got to our special spot at Canatara and saw the piles of snow and ice, everything went quiet in the car for several stunned moments.

And my baby sister wailed: “You took us to the wrong beach!”

 Sarnia’s Marg Johnson is a retired Certified Child & Youth Worker who formerly worked with behaviour children as an educational assistant at the York Catholic District School Board.