In remembrance of The Great War during this centenary year, this blog will explore the intriguing social history of that tumultuous time. The first two of my Muskoka Novels – "The Summer Before the Storm" and "Elusive Dawn" – take place from 1914-1918. During my four years of research I accumulated a trunkful of notes, and will illuminate some of the more interesting and unusual tidbits, beginning with the Age of Elegance.
Monday, February 24, 2014
From Regattas to Combat
One of the highlights of summers on the lake is the annual
regatta. These friendly but often fierce competitions encompass sports such as
canoeing, swimming, and sailing, and also quirkier events such as canoe tilting,
as shown in the photo below.
Canoe tilting or jousting
The Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) Regatta was already so
popular prior to The Great War that people travelled up to Lake Rosseau from
Toronto just for the day, with special steamships and overnight trains to ferry
them home again. Hundreds of private boats sat at anchor or were moored many
deep at the docks and islands within view of the activities. At the end of the
day, various resorts held dances because even the largest of them, The Royal
Muskoka Hotel (mentioned in a previous post), couldn’t accommodate all the
MLA Regatta at the Royal Muskoka Hotel
Canada’s Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden, was vacationing
at the luxurious Royal Muskoka Hotel in July of 1914, and was supposed to award
the prizes at the MLA Regatta. But he had to rush back to Ottawa just days
before Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th, when Canada
was also plunged into war.
The young men who had fought to be the toughest or fastest on
the lakes would now battle on a far different and distant playing field.