407 1 AVE - Still Going Strong
Updated: Mar 16, 2022
History always has a beginning which for this particular book detailing Ma-Me-O Beach is 1923. With properties that have a long history, tracking down the owners back throughout the years can be a challenge. Luckily, when walking past the Walker cabin the story of this property has stayed in the family since the beginning.
Barb Funk (formerly Walker) is the current owner of the family cabin with many fond memories that span generations.
Cabin Fit for a Walker
John Henry and Mae Walker purchased their lot in 1923, and with it began their family story at Ma-Me-O Beach. Their children Dorothy, Florence, Jean and John (Jack) Fredrick grew up with their whole summer spent at the lake.
The cabin had a sign for years that read "Johnny Walker Still Going Strong" as an ode to the family and popular quote of the era....
The original Summer cabin BUILT IN had two bedroom's and a larger room that was all heated by a coal powered pot-belly stove. The cabin also had a trap door in the kitchen floor to a cellar where they kept the food cold. As a grandchild, Barb remembered her brother joking on more than one occasion that he would lock her down there!
Barb's grandmother told many a story with one that stuck out in Barb's memory. During the dances that went on parents would put their children in cribs lining the inside of the hall. The funny thing was, sometimes an especially sneaky older child would go around switching the younger children around. The parents would go to retrieve their brood at the end of the night only to realize a 'switcheroo' had been made! Imagine the confusion and laughter ensuing as each child was traded back to their parents.
Inheriting & Expanding
John Frederick and his wife Evelyn Walker inherited the cabin in 1960, with the passing of John Henry in 1941, and Mae in 1960. Just before Mae passed a new cabin was built by local builder Mr. Dowler. The newly built four-bedroom had only the basics and the outhouse was still the main relief station which could be an adventure in itself. Between the bats and skunks you never knew what awaited on the path to the outhouse.
Running to the outhouse in a hail storm required a pot over the head just to make it back unscathed!
A big wood stove was used to heat the cabin and cook meals such as fried chicken which was Barb's favourite! As lake life continued on with the next generation, Barb and her siblings spent the whole summer at Ma-Me-O Beach with their mother. Their father was a pharmacist in Wetaskiwin and would commute everyday to join them. Barb, Johnny, Donna and Brenda enjoyed every minute whether it be riding on a pony or tipping the canoe into the lake to cool off in the heat!
As the years progressed Johnny inherited in 1993 and made some minor improvements to the cabin. Barb inherited in 2019, and began renovations in that same year by putting a new floor in and plans for more changes down the line.
Always on the Move
As Barb and her siblings became teenagers the dances were the place to meet up with friends. Many school friends also joined them during the Summer which was great fun as they would form a large group and dance late into the night. When the dance halls were closed you could find Barb, her siblings and friends jumping on the in-ground trampolines, playing the ever-popular family bingo at the hall or going for a swim before dinner time.
On lazy summer days the Walker's would sometimes take a drive around the lake to check out the other cabin's. Spotting the unique names was always a fun game among the siblings. If they were lucky there would also be a pitstop for ice cream along the way! Barb's favourite was a tie between maple walnut or rainbow sherbert. One of Barb's fondest memories were picnics with Grandma Mae at the park and any day that was spent at the beach! All of the kids greatly enjoyed floating on an old tractor tire tube, building sand castles and swimming with their Dad then being tossed up into the air for a splash landing!
Barb truly enjoys Ma-Me-O and commented, "I love being out at the lake. The sunsets are much more beautiful than anywhere I've ever been." Barb now shares her love of the lake with her own family. Barb's daughter also named Barb, her husband Richard Dmytryshyn and their two boys Zachary and Joshua grew up at the lake just as Barb did. The whole family has traditions that run strong from each generation to the next.
That's all for now folks! Stay tuned for our next post as more stories are collected and submitted.
~History Book Team~