We found tranquility, along the shores of this clear, blue, beauty. It was also a buzzing social hub – a gathering place for familiar faces, and new friends as well.
Who could forget the laughter of the youthful parties at nearby cottages, or on Big Island? Memories of the blazing campfires, sputtering, crackling, shooting flames into the starry night skies. The rock and roll of our time echoed across the lake, with its steady beat, and powerful lyrics. Our music celebrated sweet, young, love, with a dash of social commentary, unique to those unforgettable times – the 1960s and 70s.
Where is Christie Lake? Ottawa, the closest large city, is about an hour east of the lake, and the pretty town of Perth is a quick, 15 minute drive. The Stafford house, where we spent the idyllic days of our youth, was just a mile away, a quick bike ride up the Third Line, although it felt a lot farther on those hot humid days of summer. By the time my friends and I rounded the corner near Jordan’s, the lake was in sight, and moments later the bikes had been abandoned, and we’d jumped off the bridge, into the cool, clear, water.
Christie Lake is one of the three largest lakes on the Tay Watershed, along with Bob’s Lake and Otty Lake. They say that the original name for the lake was Myers Lake, which was way before my time, but I do remember the old timers referring to it as ‘Christy’s Lake’, or ‘Christie’s Lake’, and that it was named for John Christy, native of Scotland, an early pioneer in Bathurst Township. John Christy, from Edinburgh, was the first settler on the lake, arriving in 1815.
After John Christy’s arrival, the second family living on the lake were the Allan’s. The original spelling of the lake was “Christy’s Lake”, but it was changed by the Geographic Board of Canada to “Christie” on April 10th, 1908.
John Christy, his wife Isabella (Wright), and daughter, sailed on the ship ‘Eliza’ from Scotland, on August 3, 1815 and arrived first, in Quebec City. Like many families arriving late in the year, they spent the first winter near their port of arrival. By 1816, the Christy’s settled at concession 2, lot 2 in Bathurst District.
John Christy – 1824-1909 son of pioneer John M. Christy
Alexandrine Victoria (Christy) Whillans 1839-1924
youngest daughter of pioneer John Christy, first settlers at Christy’s Lake
Feb. 19, 1924 p. 7, ‘Ottawa Citizen’
Walter Christy 1870-1942
Grandson of pioneer, John Christy
Jan. 22, 1942, p.12 ‘The Ottawa Citizen
George Christy – 1868-1949
Grandson of pioneer John Christy
George Christy gravestone, Johnston’s Corners cemetery, south Ottawa, Ontario
The Jordans were one of the early settlers to the area, having lived in the region continuously since the 1800s, when pioneer settler, George Jordan, arrived from Scotland.
George Jordan (1830-1908) and his wife, Isabella Stewart, were parents to John Jordan (1865-1950), and it was John, who first established the business of vacation cottage rentals.
John’s son, John Robert Jordan and his wife Martina Miller, continued the legacy, expanding the business and keeping with tradition.
John Robert and Martina Jordan had a large family of six children: George Edwin Jordan (1896-1977), Arthur Miller Jordan (1897-1968), Calvin Jordan (1899-1981), Helen ‘Pink’ Muriel Jordan (1901-1987) and Sarah ‘Sadie’ Isabella Jordan (1910-1999).
Bridge at Jordan’s Cottages – 1973
John Robert Jordan passed down the business to his son, Alan Jordan, and he and his wife Audrey (Conroy) Jordan have continued the tradition for over two decades. Their son, Paul Jordan, is now co-owner.
John Jordan established Jordan’s Cottages.
Ad for Jordan’s Cottages – ‘The Perth Courier’ – July 8, 1943 p.4
Ad for Jordan’s Cottages – “The Ottawa Journal” – July 28, 1948 p. 24
Fire at Christie Lake bridge – 1940
July 19, 1940 ‘The Perth Courier’
“The Jordan home was ever a hospitable one, where the head of the household always found time to engage in friendly conversation and to perform some kindly act or unselfish deed.”
John Jordan – 1865 – 1950
September 28, 1950 – ‘The Perth Courier’
John Jordan & Martina Miller’s son – John Robert Jordan operated Jordan’s Cottages after his father passed away.
John Robert Jordan’s marriage to Mary Scharf in 1933:
1908 death certificate of Scottish pioneer, George Jordan – early settler to Christie Lake
postcard – 1956
Jean (White) Jordan and Donald ‘Don’ Jordan boating on Christie Lake
(Donald – a grandson of John Robert Jordan)
John Jordan, President of the Christie Lake Fish and Game Club
seeks to restore Pickerel to the area
Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 24, 1962, p. 12
Bridge at Jordan’s
Sarah ‘Sadie’ Jordan (1910-1999) at Christie Lake – photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon
(Sadie – youngest daughter of John Robert Jordan)
Christie Lake – Famous for Fishing!
Oct. 23, 1941 p.2 – ‘The Perth Courier’
Patti Jordan and Arlene Stafford-Wilson boating at Christie Lake – 1976, photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon
(Patti – Great-great-grandaughter of Scottish pioneer settler George Jordan (1830-1908)
Christy – Allen Reunion – 1954
First Christy-Allan Reunion
was held in 1954
“Out of neighbourly fairness, the two original families drew lots to decide after whom the lake would be named. It was Mr. Christy, of course, who drew the longest straw.”
‘Ottawa Citizen’, July 4, 1955, p.21
Jordan Family Reunion
photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon
Jordan Family Reunion
photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon
…and where did the visitors and residents shop?
Visitors to Jordan’s Cottages often picked up their food and supplies at Cavanagh’s store in DeWitt’s Corners.
The store opened on June 3, 1947 – carrying a full line of groceries, confectioneries, and tobacco products. Along with groceries and everyday sundries, Cavanagh’s store also sold gas supplied by Esso, a branch of Imperial Oil.
Locals and cottagers, along with campers at nearby Christie Lake, were all pleased to hear that there would be a general store in the area, and they would no longer have to drive to Perth, to pick up daily necessities.
Cavanagh’s store, DeWitt’s Corners photo: Joanne Cavanagh Butler
Helen (DeWitt) Cavanagh, James ‘Jim Cavanagh, and their dog, Shep – photo courtesy of JoAnne Cavanagh Butler
Jim and Helen Cavanagh operated the popular neighbourhood store for nearly four decades, until they retired in 1985.
Christie Lake: The Floods of 2017
Heavy spring rains in the region, as well as a lack of good water management practices, are said by locals to have caused the flooding in 2017. It was widely discussed at the time, that Parks Canada, governing body of local lakes, was partly to blame in allowing its reservoir at Bobs Lake to become too high. It was said that logs were removed from a control dam at Bobs Lake, upstream, causing water levels to rise in Christie Lake. The flood was the worst that could be recalled in the past century.
Alan Jordan wades through the waters that flooded Christie Lake in 2017
Alan Jordan (left) and his son Paul Jordan, May 11, 2017 – owners of Jordan’s Cottages
High waters cause flooding in 2017 – Jordan’s Cottages
The Marks family of Christie Lake were known for their vaudeville shows, and traveling theatrical entertainment. Thomas Marks, one of the brothers, turned the family home into a hotel, and named it after his daughter ‘Arlie’.
There were seven Marks brothers: Robert, Tom, Alex, Jack, Joe, McIntyre and Ernie. Two of their sisters-in-law performed with them: Kitty, wife of Ernie, and May Bell, wife of Robert. There were also two sisters Nell and Libby who did not perform on stage.
Seated: L. to rt, May A. Bell Marks, George Marks, R.W. Marks, Gracie Marks.
Standing; Joe Marks, Alex Marks
The Marks family presented melodramas for the most part, but also performed some comedy as well.
When their time for performing had come to an end, most of the family returned to the Christie Lake farm of their childhood. Robert continued to perform on stage until his late 70’s and then retired to the lake. He converted the barn where they had rehearsed into a summer hotel and was owner and operator until his death in 1936 at the age of 86.
Joe also retired to the farm where he died in 1944 at the age of 82.
Tom returned to Christie Lake when he retired, and converted the old house into a hotel and called it Arliedale, after his daughter Arlie. He passed away in 1935, at the age of 81 years old.
Ella Marks, her husband Tom, and daughter, Arlie Marks and dog, Buster.
‘The Perth Courier’, Jan 18, 1935, p.4
Death of Mrs. Marguerite (Farrell) Marks – mother of the Marks Brothers
April 15, 1921, “The Perth Courier” p. 8
Arliedale Inn, Christie Lake
Dance at Arliedale Inn – July 1931
“…a lingering twilight, as though the sun had stood still just below the horizon. It was just the sort of night that beckons youth and beauty.”
‘The Perth Courier’ – July 10, 1931, p.1
‘The Perth Courier’ – August 7, 1931, p.1
Ottawa Citizen, July 20th, 1949 p. 31
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, May 26, 1968, p.137
Victor Lemieux and his wife Noreen (McGlade) Lemieux were owners and operators of Norivc Lodge. Like the other properties set along the shores of Christie Lake, they had a beautiful shoreline, framing their homey, rustic lodge.
Victor, son of Jeremie Lemieux, and Margaret Hannah James, was born and raised in the tiny village of Fournier, in the township of Prescott-Russell. The village is situated near the communities of Vankleek Hill, St. Isidore, and Plantagenet, a largely French-Canadian settlement. Victor’s father was a Lumberman, and his mother cared for the large family.
Victor’s wife, Noreen, a girl who grew up in the town of Perth, Ontario, was the daughter of Arthur McGlade, a labourer. The McGlade family were early settlers from Perth, originally from County Armagh, Ireland. Catherine McCarthy, Noreen’s mother was also from an Irish pioneer family, from County Cork. Noreen’s parents were married in Toledo, Ontario, October 16, 1899.
Noreen ‘Nina’ (McGlade) Lemieux
Memories of working at Norvic Lodge in 1960, as told by Judy (Stafford) Ryan:
“The Lodge was ‘Norvic” named after the owners – Noreen and Vic. She was called Nina, and they had a daughter Judy, – about my age at the time. The Lodge was on Christie Lake.
I was the only one who had the job there, but because I also had a two week job at the Optometrist in Perth, while his secretary was on vacation, at the beginning of the Summer (Dad got it for me), my sister Jackie (Stafford) Wharton, went up to the Lodge, and held my job for me for that two week period. I think Dad was also the one who got me the job at the Lodge. Mother did not want me to go as she figured I would get ‘into trouble’.
We were paid $10.00 a week which was given to us at the end of the Summer. We made great tips from the Americans, who stayed in the cabins – I could make up to $100.00 a week, depending on whether or not the cabins were full that week.
Our cabin was at the top of a hill away from the vacationers. Our day started at 7:00 a.m. We had to be down the hill to the Lodge in uniform, to set up the dining room for breakfast, take breakfast orders, serve it, clear tables and help wash dishes, etc. We then went back up the hill, changed into shorts and t-shirts and cleaned all the cabins – made beds, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, changed towels, etc. Then, back up the hill, back into uniform, to do the lunch thing.
We were suppose to have a couple of hours off each afternoon, to do what we wanted. However, part way through the summer, the lady who did the laundry left, and that was added to our jobs, without extra pay. So after lunch, we would have to do the laundry – sheets, towels, etc. and hang them out on a line to dry. Once a week, we would have to strip the beds, but changed the towels often.
On days when we didn’t have to do the laundry, I would take the canoe, and a good book, and head for a small uninhabited island, and read for a couple of hours. I knew that no-one could get to me there.
Between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. we were back down the hill, in our uniforms, to set up for dinner, etc., etc.
After everything was done, and cleaned up for the evening, we had time to ourselves, if we had any energy left. I worked with a girl by the name of Claudette, and she was a real party girl, and as there was a party at some cottage every night, we went out most nights, along with the guy who worked at the Lodge store and gas bar, and he was allowed to use one of the motor boats, and that is how we got to the other cottages.
Just before I arrived to work at the Lodge that Summer there had been a bad boating accident, and I think one or two people had died. The only way I found out about it was I saw a mangled boat with blood on it, stored in behind the lodge, when I was out walking one day, and asked the guy at the gas bar what happened.
That Summer was the first time I saw death! There was a delightful family from Pennsylvania. there – three generations – Grandfather, parents, and two younger children. I was serving breakfast this one morning, and the Grandfather, who was always so friendly and animated, told me about the different birds he had heard singing that morning, and during the conversation, he keeled over at the table. I ran into the kitchen and got Vic (Lemieux) – told him the old man ‘fainted’. Vic got the son to help him carry the Grandfather into the Lounge, behind the dining room, and they put him on the couch. I remember going ahead and serving the other guests, and noticed people coming and going to the Lounge. Nina told me later that the old guy had died, probably instantly, and I was really shocked and upset. That is one of those memories that is permanently etched in your memory, especially when you are only 15.”
– an excerpt from the book, “Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen”, ISBN 978-0-9877026-0-9
May 10, 1962 – ‘The Perth Courier’
Norvic Lodge – Christie Lake Surfers – summer of 1963
obituary of Victor Lemieux, ‘The Ottawa Citizen’, Mar. 17, p.24
Grave of Victor and Nina Lemieux – St. John’s cemetery, Perth, Ontario
Red Cedar Inn
Red Cedar Inn was the official summer residence of the Marks family of entertainers.
“Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Marks are enjoying their beautiful cottage, Red Cedar Villa and will give an “at home” in the near future.”
‘The Perth Courier”, June 23, 1899
“The pickerel are biting fine
and large catches daily is the rule.”
Red Cedar Villa (also known as Red Cedar Inn)
“James is a great admirer of the lake and its beautiful scenery, and always calls on his friend Joe to have a chat and a drink of Mrs. Marks’ noted buttermilk.”
Christie Lake news – July 14, 1899
“The season at Christie’s Lake House opened much earlier this year than usual.”
Christie Lake news – June 1, 1900, page 1
‘The Ottawa Citizen’, July 3, 1924 p.6
‘The Ottawa Citizen’, June 26, 1941, p.24
Robert W. Marks 1855-1937
‘The Ottawa Citizen’ Sept. 23, 1970 p. 33
Christie Lake Camp
Christie Lake Camp was established in 1922 by Judge John F. McKinley, of Ottawa. The Judge believed that instead of punishing delinquent boys, he could offer them a chance to leave the temptations of the city, discover the great outdoors, and learn some new coping skills.
“………giving the boy responsibility, handling him with friendship, teaching him the general principles of good citizenship and doing so with the help of the open air.”
Judge John F. McKinley
Boys Enjoy Camp at Christy’s Lake
July 20, 1923 – ‘The Perth Courier’
Splendid Results Attained
From Boys’ Camp at Christy’s
November 16, 1923 – ‘The Perth Courier’
The boys arriving from Ottawa, on Colonial Coach bus lines
The boys at their dock, below the main building
In 1958 Dr. Dan Offord became Camp Director. Christie Lake Kids programs were
under the guidance and direction of the late Dr. Offord, who was a well-known child psychiatrist. Dr. ‘Dan’, as he was known, was a volunteer summer Camp Director for 47 years.
Dr. Dan Offord, volunteered at Christie Lake for 47 years
Tremendous efforts went into fund-raising, over the past several decades, in order to maintain and repair the buildings and grounds at Christie Lake Camp.
In 2001, Dr. Dan’s work in research, at Christie Lake Camp, earned him the Order of Canada.
Dr. Dan Offord died at the age of 70, in 2004.
Heading up to the main building for lunch at the Christie Lake Boys’ Camp
Learning to paddle a canoe at Christie Lake Camp
Singing around the campfire, at Christie Lake Camp – 2013
By the year 2000, approximately 400 boys and girls aged from 9 to 14 arrive every summer to learn outdoor skills and, build their self-esteem
Camp Opemikon – Scout Camp
The land was purchased in 1937, and the camp opened in 1938. Camp Opemikon has served the camping needs of the Scouting family for many years.
Cabins at Camp Opemikon – photo: Jason Chute
Canoes at Camp Opemikon – photo: Jason Chute
Discover more about Christie Lake, and learn about the parties and pastimes of the 1960s and 1970s, at this popular vacation spot, in the story, “Stranded on Christie Lake”, one of the stories in ‘Lanark County Chronicle: Double Back to the Third Line”
“Lanark County Chronicle” – ISBN-978-0-9877026-23