IN THE LATE NINETEEN NINETYS THE CLAYTON FAMILY RECEIVED A LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE
‘CLAYTONS OF DORSET’. THE LETTER WAS FROM AN EIGHTY YEAR OLD GENTLEMAN WHO WAS
FROM NEW YORK STATE. THIS MAN HAD ATTENDED CAMP OTTER ON OTTER LAKE NEAR
DORSET IN THE MID NINETEEN THIRTYS. THE LETTER STATED THAT HE HAD STOLEN SOME
CHOCOLATE BARS FROM THE CLAYTON FAMILY GENERAL STORE WHILE HIS TEENAGE FRIENDS
HAD KEPT D.W. CLAYTON BUSY IN THE BACK OF THE STORE. FOR SIXTY OR MORE YEARS HE
HAD FELT BADLY ABOUT THIS. THUS THE LETTER OF APOLOGY AND HE ENCLOSED A CHEQUE
FOR TWENTY DOLLARS TO COVER HIS THEFT. HE WANTED TO FINISH HIS LIFE WITH A CLEAR
YOU CAN STOP IN AT THE DORSET HERITAGE MUSEUM TO VISIT OUR ‘GENERAL STORE’ EXHIBIT
AND VIEW PICTURES AND ARTIFACTS OF CLAYTON’S STORE IN THE EARLY DAYS. THE MUSEUM
ALSO HAS AN EXHIBIT FEATURING AREA CAMPS, ONE OF WHICH IS CAMP OTTER.
Remembered by Lorna Cassie – Bywater
During my childhood around the age of eight, I recall summers spent in Dorset. Our family, the Cassie Family, numbered nice in all. My parents, George and Millie along with seven children ranging in age from three to nine (three girls and four boys) arrived the day after school finished in June and Dorset became our summer home for two glorious months of summer. Summer ended for us on Labour Day Weekend.
Before our own cottage was built on Otter Lake, we rented a small cottage on Lake of Bays from Mrs. McKey. The McKey cottages were next door to Len Barry’s garage and many a penny was spent buying those coveted black licorice from the counter top jar at Len’s garage. We swam, played, had picnics and frolicked away our days while Dad worked at Clayton’s General Store. This was a summer job for Dad and an essential one that put food on the table for his family. During the year, he was school principal in Massey.
It was a regular occurrence for my siblings and me to run down the hill past the little yellow tea room and the Anglican Church to visit Dad at the store. It was really Wes Clayton we hoped to see. Wes doled out candies and ice cream cones unbeknownst to my dad. We picked up our mail from the post office housed in the back corner of Clayton’s store. A most treasured tie was accompanying Dad in the old Clayton truck that delivered groceries to cottagers around the area. On day when it was my turn to ride in the truck, we hit a bump on an old gravel side road causing the door on my side to fly open. Dad’s quick arm grabbed hold of me, saving me from certain road rash that day. We loved watching cars gas up from the old tanks that stood for years in front of Clayton’s store.
In my mind today, I still hear the creak of those old wood floor boards; I smell the chocolate from the ice cram counter and I hear Wes saying, ‘”Hi there, look how you’ve grown!” Clayton’s General Store is part of my lazy days of summer in the early 1950’s in the hamlet of Dorset.