301-1 AVE & 303-1 AVE - Cabins of Family, Frolic & Food
Updated: Mar 6
Prior to 1946, the Lyons’ and Rudolph families shared the Lyons’ cottage at 305-1 AVE.
Soon the two families outgrew this cottage so the Rudolphs bought the cottage next door. The families ate and shared precious times together while sleeping in their own separate cottages. The opening of the cottages every year was an event in itself for each family.
On April 28, 1946, Louis and Tryna Rudolph then purchased the cottage and property immediately next door to the one they currently owned. The property also included a storage garage and a small guest house from the Klapstein family. This cottage was 301-1 AVE and became known as Maven’s Haven for Tryna, Louis and their children; Ross, Beth and Naomi. In the early days, Muriel and Jake Wener and their daughter Shirley occupied the guest house every summer for several years until it was too difficult for them to manage. At that point, the guest house became the summer home for Dr. Barney and Florence Mass along with their two children, Philip and Sherry.
The middle cottage at 303-1 AVE, vacated by the Rudolphs was purchased and occupied by Leo and Evelyn Nozick with their family in approximately May 1946. This included Mandle, Norma and their two daughters Merrilee and Hanita who later inherited the property, which they called Chalet Shalom.
Shortly after Lottie Lyons’ passing in the early 1990’s, the Lyons’ cottage at 305-1 AVE was sold to John and Mary Tilson. Merrilee Newstone, Hanita and Aaron Dagan still own the Nozick property at 303-1 AVE. Beth and Lorne Price own the Rudolph property. The Prices, Dagans and their children have spent summers at the lake for the last 40 years.
The cabins themselves were built with gorgeous knotty pine fixtures that have never been refinished, which means they are now over 70 years old! The Rudolph cabin also had rare Diamond Willow carved furniture, the majority of which was unfortunately stolen.
The Lyons, Nozick and Rudolph cottages became a strong, vibrant family compound. There was a wonderful camaraderie among the Jewish summer dwellers at Ma-Me-O Beach. Wolfe and Seda Margolis, the Slutcker family, Anne Perler and her daughter Molly were all part of the group. After Molly’s marriage to Morris Shugarman, they and their children spent all summer at the lake.
Virtually all of these families moved to the lake for the entire Summer season. Hanita and Beth remember that back to school shopping took place at Brody’s Department Store in Wetaskiwin. This went on just before the Labour Day weekend and the return home to Edmonton. The wives and children never left the lake, while all the husbands and fathers commuted to Edmonton daily. They would return on weekends as early as possible. In those days, commuting was no easy task because the only highway to the lake was through Wetaskiwin. The road between Wetaskiwin and Pigeon Lake was not paved. In heavy rainfall, cars could get mired in the mud and local farmers had to rescue many vehicles with their tractors.
The complete lake experience was an opportunity for the ‘city kids’ to participate in country life and living off the grid was the norm for cabin life at Ma-Me-O; long before it was trendy. In the early days there was no electricity, no running water and no telephones. Light was provided at night by kerosene and Coleman lanterns. Water was hauled by the pail from the corner water pump. Blocks of ice for the refrigerators were delivered by horse and wagon.
Long distance calls to Edmonton were placed ‘collect’ from a public phone at Jackson’s General Store. The outhouse experience also left much to be desired! Despite the lack of utilities, being at the lake provided simple, rustic pleasures and family closeness.
The children amused themselves with swimming, horseback riding and singing songs around the lakefront bonfire. Roasting marshmallows on branches prepared by the kids themselves was a favourite part of the evening. There were constant card games, and who can forget Norma Nozick’s family putting on theatrical productions complete with costumes and make-up! Rainy days only added to the enjoyment, as the families had roaring fires in their beautiful stone fireplaces. Many arts and craft projects were created while they listened to the comfort of CBC radio on Louis’ transistor radio.
Hanita and Beth’s families spent the summers together with their children; Joel, Elissa and Jonathan Price along with Omer and Maya Dagan. Their husbands, Lorne Price and Aaron Dagan took up serious biking around the entire lake. Their only stop, which was compulsory, was at Nana’s for cinnamon buns. Their daily, grueling, 65 KM marathon, culminated in what came to be known as the annual Tour de Ma-Me-O, complete with commemorative t-shirts!
All took in stride the ‘lake plagues’ that went on throughout the season. Leeches, squirrels, skunks, foxes, mosquitos, bats and fleas all had their moment in creating excitement. These encounters with wildlife and the pathetically futile attempts to deter them, became stories to tell again and again, always ending in hysterical laughter for all.
There are those who eat to live and those who live to eat. Cooking and eating have always been central activities at the lake. A vivid memory recalled, was the mornings on which members of the local First Nations would deliver freshly caught and filleted whitefish. Tryna’s preparation of lightly fried fish with caramelized onions, was a never to be forgotten favourite by all. Fresh honey from a small honey farm near Falun was particularly meaningful, when it provided the traditional symbol of sweetness at their Rosh Hashana dinner.
Picking saskatoons and raspberries from the trees and bushes in the cottage yard was an especially fun activity. Even more fun for the children was eating the delicious pies Tryna baked from the bumper crop that barely made it into the bucket!
Especially important were the extended family and the summer traditions. Socializing, playing, eating and storytelling provided the foundation for strong, close family relationships. Time at Ma-Me-O became the cornerstone of life at the lake for the descendants that followed. These precious Ma-Me-O memories were formative experiences for the four generations of their families.
Most of all, Ma-Me-O Beach represented a uniquely special place where family time was at the center of all the food, fun, happiness, joy and laughter experienced. The lake is part of the DNA of the Lyons, Rudolph, Nozick, Price and Dagan families and will forever remain a meaningful part of who they are.
That's all for now folks! Stay tuned for our next post as more stories are collected and submitted.
~History Book Team~