Sept 24, 2009
Another topic that I need clarification on is Deadman's Pond, Lush's Cabin, and Twin Ponds. The stories/places are all jumbled up in my mind. What went on there? Was Lush's cabin a camp or a hall or what? Which one was the popular swimming hole where all the kids went with the raft and the boys had to compete with the airforce guys for the gals attention while diving? Is one renamed Cobb's Pond, or is that someplace else--that's where there is a park and walking paths today isn't it?
Thanks everyone for your clarification…Oh, and which pond was it where there were dances held and receptions at the cabin, is that Deadmans?
Faye Lewis Raynard,
GA Class of 1959
Re Twin Ponds, they were two ponds on both sides of the highway between Gander and Glenwood, although one pond was larger than the other, as I remember them. We bicycled there to swim and/or to picnic.
I'll leave it to others to comment on Deadman's Pond and Lush's cabin.
Going down memory lane to Deadman’s Pond (early 1950s)…
It was a trek from where we lived (Eastbound Inn) to go to the pond, but still we went quite often. My brothers, friends, and I, would walk, or sometimes bicycle, down the road looping around the runway and past the terminal building. I don’t know how far it was but my brother, Myles, says the trip there and back would be about 4-5 miles. Of course, we’d take shortcuts and walk through the field close to the runway. Once at the terminal, we felt we were about half-way and we’d turn onto the dirt road (more of a trail as cars could not go down this way). Along the trail, there was a little creek over which we had to cross, and most of the time, there would be water in the creek so we would jump on logs so as not to get wet. That was all part of the fun – we would be disappointed, on occasion, to find the creek had dried up. There were plenty of blueberries to pick and eat along the way.
Once we arrived at the pond, ‘the point’ was on the left – a small piece of land jutting out into the pond probably about 300 feet out and about 20 feet wide (?). Cars could drive out on this strip. The boys liked to swim off ‘the point’ as the water was a little deeper than over at the wharf where the girls went, and also there was a diving board rigged up on the left near the tip of ‘the point’ which was a fun place for diving. Just off the tip you could look down some 20 feet or more and see pipes around which lots of fish would congregate. Myles says these pipes were used to bring drinking water into the Town of Gander during the summer but in the winter the water was brought in from Gander Lake as that lake did not freeze.
The girls would walk from 'the point' along the ‘path’ to the log cabin and swim off the wharf. The ‘path’ was quite pretty, probably less than 100 yards long, but about 6 feet wide and it ran along the pond; it was quite enclosed with trees and bushes and had several little bridges over creeks with X-shaped log railings on each side. The wharf was built of wooded planks and was shaped like an “H”. On each side and straight out there were sort of wooden platforms (we called them landings) that sloped down to the water. I thought at the time that they were there so we could gradually ease ourselves into the water but, of course, they were for the boats.
I liked to swim off the front landing because it was mossy and we could slide down towards the water. We would spread out our towels and lie on the landings to sunbathe. Usually there were a few boats around the landing on the left causing the water there to be a bit oily so that area was not as popular for swimming as the front and the right side landings. After diving over at ‘the point’, the guys would come over to the wharf where they enjoyed swimming out to the ‘big rock’. It was about 50-75 feet straight out from the wharf but was not visible – it was a few feet under water and you had to feel for it with your hands or feet. Anyone swimming at Deadman’s Pond at the time would remember the ‘big rock’.
Inside the log cabin, we could buy ice cream, or drinks, but the log counter was so high, we would sometimes just wave our hands above it to let the server know we were there. The cabin had two large fireplaces, one on either side. These fireplaces jutted out beyond the cabin walls and by climbing up the logs on the outside walls unto the ledge formed by the fireplaces, you could easily reach the roof. This was THE spot to spread out towels and sunbathe. Everyone loved to lie on the roof – Myles says all the gang climbed up there to sunbathe - the Dempseys, the Peckfords, Ches Carter, Doris Moss, and others. Bring back memories? To get out of our wet bathing suits, there were change rooms around to the left of the cabin which could be accessed by walking up a wooden “V” shaped walkway – to the men’s or to the lady’s.
McNiven Wedding Reception – Compliments of Max Lush
Left to Right: Gwen Reid, Unknown, Peter Lush, George Woodford,
Unknown, Al Brown, Bill McNiven, Mrs. McNiven, Norm Green
On the way home we would all be red-faced from the sun (whoever heard of sunscreen then!). At the top of the trail, where we could see the terminal building, our ritual was to take a rest on the swing before continuing the second half of our trek. In a grassy area, off to the right, there was a big green wooden swing with seats on both sides where 4-6 could swing at once. It seemed anyone could use this swing – we used to call it Dawe’s swing – vaguely remember, but Marina Dawe may have lived there (?)
Also remember skating across Deadman’s Pond to Union East, and back, with 2 of my brothers. I was only about 9-10 years old at the time. It was about 2 ½ kilometres across to the other side of the pond, Union East, which in the summertime, was a nice sandy beach. My mother only knew we were going skating and she used to tell my brothers to look out for me and hold my hand but my brothers would have none of it - the closest they let me get was to pull me at the end of their hockey sticks when I got too tired to keep up. Some 50+ years later, I shudder to think of skating that distance over a deep frozen pond – and we were so young!
My brothers, Myles and Lorne, used to go fishing at Deadman’s Pond; they would fish either off ‘the point’, or go on down ‘the path’, past the log cabin, to a wooden walkway which continued along the pond to some good fishing spots. On their way down to the pond, close to the old heating plant, they would stop at the site of Joey Smallwood’s pig farm, then abandoned. Myles says it was the greatest place to dig for worms for their fishing but because of the remnants of the piggery, you had to be careful as you could sink up to your ankles in maggots. UGH.
‘The point’ above (2008) used to be all gravel but now it has grown over with bushes and would be unrecognizable as we knew it in the early fifties. Also the wharf above (2008) is pretty dilapidated and has sunken into the water without any trace of the 3 landings but there is still the outline, more of a “T” now than an “H”.
Most of my memories of Deadman's Pond are from the winter. We used to play hockey when it froze. I don't ever remember having to plough any snow off. It was such a wide, open pond I think it just blew to the sides.
I remember that if someone shot the puck through the "rough" goal posts, or outside those posts, it was a heck of a long skate to fetch the puck. I'm sorry but I don't remember the names of those who played.
My late Uncle Don (Hounsell) used to live in a house that held two families (don't remember the other family) close to the road that went off the roundabout toward D.P. You would pass their place (on the left side of the road) going toward the old terminal. It isn't much, but it may inspire the memories of some of the alumni.
Thanks, Gerri, for the pictures and write-up !
We used to go fishing there. I lost a lot of hooks, lures, lines, etc. when fishing off the wharf because they would get caught on the wooden planks under water. Some guys used to dive off the wharf to retrieve lures. We also fished off the gravel point. It was great for flyfishing because you could cast your line a long ways without getting it snagged on the trees behind you. There was a small bridge along the trail about halfway between the point and the wharf where a small brook flowed into the pond. Just before dark one night as I was walking across that bridge I cast my line into the water and immediately hooked a very large mud trout. It was probably around three pounds which was quite large for a trout. It was pitch dark before I landed that trout and headed home.
Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of 1961
I remember Deadmans pond very well and always visit when I'm in Gander. And also the old town site. We lived in Building 50—almost 60 years ago now.
I spent many summers at the age of 10 to 15 down at Deadman's Pond and the Log Cabin. I have many fond memories of those days, the sunburns, the beaver building their dams in the little creek along the path that we used to take which followed adjacent to the main dirt road that went to the pond. My Dad and I would sometimes walk down there on Sunday mornings just to watch the beaver. Those were wonderful days.
As for the skating on Deadman's, I never did that but I sure did on the rink. My Dad and I went fishing a few times with my Cousin, Jim Candow on the Union East side of the pond - I shall never forget that for the mosquitoes had a feast, even with all the netting, repellent and extra precautions we took to ward them off, they were awful. We did get lots of trout though and had fun. I remember I was always so scared to come upon a bear or a moose. We never saw any but I think we heard the odd one.
I recall my Mom would pack a lunch for me and I would head off to the Pond with Norma and Jean Sheppard and whoever else felt like going on any given day in the summer. We would spend the whole day in the water (I also remember the darn leaches) and sunning 'til I looked like a tomato. The swing, yes, that was right, that was ours and the old piggery that Joey Smallwood once owned was also ours. My Dad had bought it (for a song) from Joey. I have no idea what his intentions were with it but we used to go over there just playing and looking around. I never discovered any of the sinkholes or any dirty areas as I believe that there were probably some guidelines that forced the clean up of the area after the pig business ended.
We will touch base again soon and thank you so very much for keeping in touch.
The following article was published in the supplement Gander's Military Heritage "Keep 'em Flying" to the Gander Beacon on Wednesday, July 31, 1991, page 33.
Military personnel living on the Gander Station in the early '40's were isolated from civilization. They were confined to he base surrounded by wilderness, with the only means of escape by train or plane.
The occasional five-day pass would include a trip to Grand Falls or Corner Brook, otherwise they had to provide their own recreation and leisure.
Deadman's Pond was located a couple of miles from the station. It was no more than 10 fathoms deep and was well stocked with mud trout. Sgt. Larry O’Toole said (in an article written for the Propaganda Magazine) "Seldom did a fisherman return from the pond without some sort of catch to show his time and effort."
Recognizing the site's recreational potential, administration gave the go-ahead for the building of a log cabin. It would be 60 x 65 feet and have a 60-foot veranda facing the pond. When completed, it would serve as a sort of club house for station personnel and squadron parties.
The new cabin boasted two fireplaces and a snack bar. It was officially opened by Leading Airwoman Eileen Butt in September 1944. It remained open until the end of the war. The outdoorsmen on the station found enough to keep them occupied with the many hiking trails, boating and fishing facilities. On any given day a number of canoes, sailing skiffs and out-board motor boats could be seen skimming the surface of the pond.
In the beginning, getting to the pond usually meant a hike, but later transportation by bus was provided.
The cabin at Deadman's Pond and its environs became a big contributing factor towards the solution of the problems of diversion for many soldiers serving at the Gander Station.
Note: There was no indication as to who wrote the article. However, on page 48 there is a Note of Thanks. That note says . . .The Beacon staff wishes to express their sincere thanks to the military at Canadian Forces Station Gander, and especially to the Commanding Officer Lt. Col. N. R. Rhode; Commanding Officer Lieut. (Navy) Wayne Bennett and Cpl. Barry Harris who provided the source from which mosst of the information in this supplement was taken.