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  • Writer's pictureErin Dentzien

403-1 AVE - The Toole Shed

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Wander along the beach road of Ma-Me-O and you will find the long standing Toole Shed family cabin located at 403-1st Avenue.

The Toole Shed

Toole Kids_Maureen, Kerry, Tom, Shelagh, Joe, Jay, Kelly, Mary Beth, Eileen

The cabin was owned by the MacDonalds since 1923, and then bought by Patrick and Patricia Toole, in 1965. Coincidentally, the MacDonalds lived up the street from the Toole’s in the Britannia neighbourhood of Calgary. Their friends, the Defraines’, introduced the Toole’s to the area in 1955. The Toole’s then spent a number of years renting cabins from George Masinkoff leading up to buying their own slice of Alberta paradise. All nine kids - Maureen, Shelagh, Tom, Kerry, Joseph, Kelly, Mary Beth, Eileen and James (Jay) were ecstatic to have a family cabin to come out more often to the lake.

Joe at Papey’s Stables_1960

The kids spent a lot of time at Pappy’s Stables and the in-ground trampolines. Bingoes were a favourite; where the winner ALWAYS had to exhaust their winnings on ice cream for all at the Tasty Delight.

Jay, the youngest, was good friends with the Yellowbird family. The Yellowbird family built the Toole retaining wall that withstood years of storms and they were always on hand to help out with the Toole’s various cabin projects. The original cabin still stands, with two major renovations and additions since 1965.

Toole Grotto

There was a boathouse at the Toole Shed property that had a phonograph player with a bunch of records, magazines that detailed momentous dates such as the Queen coming to Canada and an old wooden motor boat. The Macleod’s eventually came back for the boat after the cabin sale. The boathouse was soon thereafter torn down and the Toole’s built a bunkhouse for Tom Toole who was a quadriplegic. The bunkhouse was built with all the amenities and was a great place for friends to gather for games, dancing and Mom’s infamous puff wheat squares. Ma-Me-O was always full of family, friends and the most crazy of stories for the Toole’s.

The Summer Ma-Me-O Olympics_1989-1990

There were a few years when a group of cabin families held ‘The Summer Ma-Me-O Olympics’ with the Twomey, Duggan, Smith, Reid and Watson clans to name a few. All the families rose to the challenge for a prized brick which would go to the winning family to keep until the following year. Patricia Toole crafted a treasure box for the brick which would go to the Twomey’s to be kept in until the next round of cabin olympics.

The kids became good friends with the Makofka’s as the boys, Terry and Nevar, were their swimming instructors and partners in many beach games over the summer. Kerry recalled the funeral for Barb Makofka’s mother, Stafka, was quite an event out at Ma-Me-O as Stafka was quite an icon and a devoted teacher to her students.

Kerry Toole's Art Camp_1991-1993

Kerry ran an Art Camp for all the kids of Ma-Me-O, out of the Legion Hall, to attend in the late 1980’s into the early 1990’s. Many of these creations can still be found around the cabins! Fond memories of swimming lessons at the pier and learning to waterski from older family members as guides to the young ones, became the centre of some of their happiest memories growing up at the lake.

Kerry organized a reunion in the early 2000’s with all the kids who grew up together back in the day. They came from Wetaskiwin, Camrose, Edmonton and Calgary. In their adulthood, some made the trek out from as far away as Ontario, Tumbler Ridge and Sooke, B.C.! The reunion relived the glory days by starting off at the Village Hotel for a catered meal by the Eco Cafe’, then ventured to Melnak’s Cafe and finally over to Miles Jackson’s place for a bonfire to round off the whole reunion with two more reunions since then. What started it, is that instead of only gathering together at funerals they wanted to have a fun event that celebrated the friendships formed at Ma-Me-O Beach. The people who attended always varied a bit year by year but there were always at least 20-30 adults gathered together.

Sunset at the Toole Cabin

The Toole’s continue to gather, celebrate and enjoy time with family and friends out at their little slice of Alberta paradise. There’s nothing quite like listening to the sound of the waves rolling into the sandy shores of Ma-Me-O Beach and watching the stunning sunsets over the horizon.

That's all for now folks! Stay tuned for our next post as more stories are collected and submitted.

~History Book Team~

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