A Dirty Thirties Vacation
December 2, 2022
The interior of the shack at Elephant Lake
The 1930s were not as ruinous in the Kawarthas as they were in some other regions—it was not necessary to bring wheelbarrow-loads of money to make purchases, and local farm families at least had the fruits of their own labour, though often precious few luxuries. It was a tumultuous time for local businesses, as many disappeared, but many new businesses were founded that would be long-lived and successful. It was a very difficult time for the forest industries.
For many locals, the Great Depression, was manifested more than anything else as a reduction in exchange. Many families had practically no money to spare—‘waste not, want not’ was very much their reality. They did not stop making time for leisure, families would still go on outings, just they might choose a location where they could walk or take their horses. Automobiles were still an emergent technology, and not everyone had one. They were also quite unreliable, and motorists would expect to have to make repairs along the way.
This anonymous set of photographs chronicles an automobile trip from Fenelon Falls, via Kinmount and Bancroft to Elephant Lake, where the vacationers stayed at a shack in the woods, enjoyed spending time by the lake and fishing. At that time, there were few cottages surrounding many of the northern lakes, and people just went hunting and fishing. It was also socially acceptable to camp in public parks in town. The photographer had an eye for capturing what things were really like along the way, capturing many moments that were quite reflective of a 1930s vacation.