top of page
  • Writer's pictureErin Dentzien

820-1 AVE - Built for the Beach

Updated: Dec 10, 2022

Nestled in the second row is the cabin at 820-1 Avenue. Originally owned by Bob and Norah Campbell in 1972, inherited by their daughter Sheila Blair in 1988, and purchased by the Miller family in 2019. The first cabins on the property were built in the three-season style in the 1930’s as rental cabins. Mr. Hillas, who was the owner at the time, had a team of staff that would have been laid off during the Great Depression. However, he also owned a great deal of property at Ma-Me-O, and had his staff build the rental cabins which were all to the same design and specifications. This prevented laying any staff off and started the Hillas cabin rental business.

820-1 AVE First Cabin which was removed by Sheila Blair

Bob and Norah Campbell began renting a beachfront Hillas cabin in 1943, while making the long bus journey out from Edmonton to stay for a full month in July. The whole family would load up their suitcases, board the Greyhound bus and then walk down the road at Ma-Me-O to their rental cabin, which was quite the trek! The women of the family would stay out the whole time which included Sheila, her mother Norah and grandmother Mary Richardson. Bob would take two weeks off and come out then go back to the city to trade with Sheila’s grandfather, Archie Richardson who would come out for the other two weeks in July. Both men made their visit special in unique ways. Bob was always so much fun and up for any game with the local kids. He would organize the nightly kick-the-can game with all the cabin kids. and never missed an evening. Archie took the old row boat that came with their cabin out with the family and rowed along the shoreline to look at all the cabins which became a favourite part of time at the lake for Sheila growing up. Sheila recalled saving up her allowance for horse rides at Jackson’s stable and the free labour trade to water the horses in Pigeon Lake in exchange for a half hour free of horse riding. Quite the deal for kids back then as an hour ride was 25 cents.

820-1 AVE Second Cabin

Bob decided in 1972, to buy the Hillas property at 820-1st Avenue. During the time her parents owned, Sheila and her husband Morris brought their kids out as often as possible to enjoy time at the lake. The Campbell’s used the original cabins for 20 years until Sheila inherited in 1988, and built a new cabin. One of the original cabins was removed for this build while the other one was saved as extra sleeping accommodation for family at the front of the property.

820-1 AVE New Cabin Completed_1992

Sheila was very hands-on and had an architect design the cabin to her exact specifications. In 1991, construction was tendered with Jetter Homes out of Wetaskiwin to build the cabin. By 1992, the build was complete. The new year-round home was built as a one-and-a-half story structure with plenty of yard space. Sheila and her kids, Suzanne, Maureen and Robert, and their children, came out quite often for swimming, walks on the beach and campfires at the cabin. The most special time was Christmas at the lake which became a tradition that continued with all of the kids who then brought their own families out. It was a very important time where everyone could revel in the quiet and walk on the frozen lake to watch the stars above. Sometimes, the most magnificent Northern Lights would dance across the night sky as well. In 1997, Sheila moved out to Ma-Me-O Beach full time and lived there for 20 years before moving away and then selling to the Miller family in 2019.

Red enjoying the winter at 820-1 Avenue

The large yard for their dog Red, and well-designed home convinced Darren and Veronique Miller to take the leap into lake life. The wrap around deck and attached garage were unique features that made the decision to buy even more appealing. Soon after moving to Ma-Me-O Beach, the Miller’s had their son Reggie who brought more excitement to Ma-Me-O.

Darren got out onto the water right away with his motorboat for some good ol’ fishing and Veronique began making friends with the neighbours. The community was excited to see a young family move to the area full time. Many of the retirees would come by to offer advice on caring for their new home, the best spots to fish and to have a coffee or two with the new residents. Neighbour Bonnie Mieske and Veronique became fast friends.

Bonnie was a wonderful neighbour and welcomed the Miller’s to life at Ma-Me-O Beach.

Image 1: Removal of Smaller Cabin at 820-1 AVE being take away_2020-06-19

Image 2: Bonfire Spot after removal of Smaller Cabin at 820-1 AVE_2020-06-19

Image 3: New Lawn at 820-1 AVE after smaller cabin removal_2021-09-25

The Ma-Me-O Days Parade, playground just down from where the old main pier used to be and time at the local library were highlights for the Miller’s. Summer saw an influx of families to the area which created more opportunity to meet more people and for their son Reggie to make some new friends. The Miller’s ended up removing the remaining original cabin which found a new home over at Battle Lake. Darren, Veronique, Reggie and Red made the most of their time at Ma-Me-O Beach before selling in 2022, to the next family ready to enjoy the sound of waves lapping at the beach, stars twinkling bright above and being welcomed into the community at Ma-Me-O Beach.

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

~History Book Team~

52 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page