|Grimsby Beach, Painted Ladies, Ontario, Canada|
I have in the past tracked down the rustic, wooden tent camp meeting locations in rural South Carolina so a newspaper clipping on my father's refrigerator advertising a garden tour of Grimsby Beach "painted lady" homes caught my eye. These are camp meeting homes of a different level! Wowza! Check them out!
My sister Shirley was in from Edmonton and in the mood to hit the road so we tracked them down. The only similarity to the wooden tents in South Carolina is that they are Methodist and built in a circle. It ends there. These are so decorative they are almost Disneyworld style.
The early Methodists missed the fellowship of church attendance, so each summer for a week or ten days, a mammoth camp meeting would be held so that everyone could absorb enough religious fervour to last through the long winter. The camp meeting was an important social as well as religious event. These meetings were held in various locations, but in 1859 John Bowslaugh donated the land on the shores of Lake Ontario for a permanent Ontario Methodist Camp Meeting Ground.
Because of its continued success, sixteen years later a company was incorporated to manage the site. Cottages were built and a community grew that included a grocery store, barber shop, telegraph office, hotels and even its own railway stopping. By 1888 a new temple was built and dedicated which could seat up to 7000 people. Steamers travelled daily from Toronto to land at Grimsby Park's Pier.
Gradually the camp meetings became a thing of the past. The year 1910 saw a new owner bring a mid-way, shooting gallery, merry-go-round and more. The park was now a summer resort. As time passed, the cottages became homes and the summer fun of Grimsby park turned into the more regular life of a little community.