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A Crystal Lake Story

Part Two

Last week I shared some early experiences at one of my favourite places: Crystal Lake, Saskatchewan. At the end of the last post, my husband and I had just bought our first home in a small town called Hyas, so officially moved away from Crystal Lake. This week, the story continues!

The winter of ’85-’86 in Hyas was so special. We loved this little hamlet and our church family there. We attended the Hyas Baptist church, full of mostly white-headed folks who welcomed us with open arms. (And lots of perogies! Yum!)

I can also pinpoint this as the time I started writing. Previously, as shared in the last post, my main creative outlet had been visual art. However, I had no place to set up or leave my artwork in progress and the only time I had when I could work on anything was during my daughter’s nap. I found the hassle of setting up and cleaning up for such a short period of time rather frustrating and not worth the effort. However, I did have some stories swirling around in my head, so I borrowed my mother’s old typewriter and started clacking away in the afternoons while my baby napped. This started a writing habit that has lasted a lifetime!

The next summer in 1986 we still spent lots of time at Crystal Lake at both the golf course and Judy’s beach. (Gerald’s sister had a cabin there.) Our daughter Lydia was the star of the golf course and we had a big joint birthday party for her and my father in the clubhouse.  Unfortunately, there were a few other less happy events. I had a miscarriage that summer, possibly from water skiing… Lesson learned.

We also loved our Hyas home, so much so that in the winter of 1987 Gerald decided we should renovate. He gutted the house – right up to the second story! Obviously, we couldn’t live in it, so back to Crystal Lake we went for the next 14 months. We once again lived with my brother in the rustic cabin on the golf course. Our second daughter was born in the summer of ’87 and we continued to live at the lake through most of the next winter. “Uncle Grant’ got to know first hand all about looking after babies. Especially since at one point we had to leave him with the baby who had pneumonia, to visit our two-year-old who was in the hospital an hour away with an intestinal problem.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

On July 1st, 1987 I fell and sprained both ankles about three weeks before our second daughter was supposed to be born. It was Canada Day and Gerald and our two-year-old were off at a parade. (They’d decked out a golf cart for the event and were in the parade.) I was working at the clubhouse. As I stepped down from the kitchen area, I twisted my ankle on this little ledge. I heard a snap but fell awkwardly on the other ankle so both were black and blue.

Thankfully, Gerald arrived home right after and managed to carry me to the car and take me to the hospital. I’m not sure how he did it since he’s not a large man and I was pretty hefty! Both ankles were badly sprained but not broken. I couldn’t use crutches so I had to crawl to the bathroom for about two weeks until I could put weight on the lesser of the two sprains… I also spent too much time at the beach one day, just lounging since I couldn’t do much else, and got a very bad burn on my legs. (When I went into labour, the nurses seemed more concerned about the state of my legs than the fact that I was having a baby.)

Our “new” house with an addition.

Somehow we managed through crowded conditions and living with family during the busy summer months. Finally, we moved back into our little house in Hyas in the spring of ’88. It was so cute! It looked just like a dollhouse inside. (In my mind.) Unfortunately, we didn’t live there long since we decided to move back to Churchill. Although we loved both Crystal Lake and Hyas, we just couldn’t sustain a family on our meager income.

During the three years that we lived in Churchill, we still came back to the lake every summer for a visit. In the summer of ‘90 we even decided it was time to buy our own cottage on the lake so we could spend our summers there. By that time we had the means to do such a thing. (Plus we had daughter number three, born in March of 1990 while living in Churchill.)

My family sold the golf course that year, but Dad still owned the drive-in and some other cottages. (He’d also sold the Beach Store). Ger’s family were also well entrenched at the lake, so we had lots of reasons to keep coming back, even if it was just for the summers.

Joint birthday parties!

Or so we thought…

When we moved back to Hyas from Churchill in the winter of ’91 we got it into our heads to move to Crystal Lake permanently. That is where Part Three of the story continues: with the biggest, craziest building adventure of our lives! (Seriously. people thought we were crazy, and maybe we were.)

Stay tuned…



  1. Priscilla says:

    I even learned a few new tidbits!

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