I grew up in a very loving, lower middle class family where my father worked in the local factory as a machinist until I was eight years old when he was able to get a job as a teacher. My mother worked part time when I was in school so I was never placed with a baby sitter.My Grandfather (on my father's side) started a summer resort in the 40’s on a small lake called Clayton Lake which was only 20 minutes from Carleton Place where I grew up. My father built a cottage at the lake where I spent every summer of my life while my father helped my Grand father.
This was a great place to grow up however it did create two seperate lives for me. I had my winter life in Carleton Place where I went to school and played hockey and then I had my summer life where I roamed the outdoors and lake totally carefree meeting new friends every week. The biggest challenge was I wasn’t able to see my winter friends all summer and I wasn’t able to participate in summer sports like baseball and soccer.
In 1967 my father bought the campground business from his father and he grew it from 8 cottages, 15 campsites, 20 wooden row boats and a small canteen to 11 cottages, 60 campsites, motorized rental boats, fueling station and a small convenience store serving hamburgers and hotdogs. My father continued teaching until 1977 and ran the campground during his summer months off from school. In 1977 my parents sold the family home in Carleton Place and moved to the lake full time. The family often teased my father about some of his crazy ideas and looking back now I can see some of his ideas were not so crazy. I am very thankful to my dad for his creative thinking because I think I might be a lot like him:)
As a kid I was always looking for a way to earn money. I never had an allowance but I would be paid for work around the campground like grass cutting, boat bailing and my favourite job of picking up the garbage. Not that I liked garbage but I got to drive the pickup truck and I wasn’t 16 yet. I also started a paper route delivering the newspaper to the local cottagers during July and August. I learned how to make candles (beeswax and paraffin) to sell in the store, I caught minnows and worms to sell to the fishermen and of course like many other kids I had my own lemonade stand which I built from slab wood.
The other really fun thing I did with a couple of my summer friends was to build a Sea Flea which is like glueing to sheets of plywood together and throwing a motor on the back of it. The three of us ripped around the lake every day for several years and as a grown adult today I can only imagine what the local cottagers thought about those three kids terrorizing the lake for several years:). It was a lot of fun and in hindsight I don’t know what my parents were thinking because we should have died several times.
So this was where and how I grew up until age 18 and up to this point in my life I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was what I think most would say “an average” kid, very shy, enjoyed sports (especially hockey) but not very motivated academically. I considered joining the armed forces, the RCMP, becoming a paramedic or even attending university for archeology however all these thought were laid to rest because my marks were barely good enough to get me out of high school. Check out my grade 13 final report card, a whopping 56.8% average. No wonder I was rejected everywhere I applied:). I had no idea what I was no going to do so I simply worked at the campground that summer and I then ended up getting a job in the city at a sports store as a ski technician and I repeated this cycle for two years until I realized I needed to do something better.
Now the reason I came to this conclusion was that I now had a reason to be and do better because I had a person in my life who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and have a family with and two part time jobs simply wasn’t going to cut it. Now the person I am speaking of is my beautiful wife Joanne who I met at the campground during the spring of 1978 when she was still just 16 and I was still 18. Joanne provided the spark in me to make me want to do and be better so as a mature student I went back to school and attended Algonquin College where I graduated from the Civil Engineering Technology program with honours. So in high school I had the potential but I didn’t have the drive and desire and the results were confirmed by my grades.