Map/Reference Number #26 (LINK)
History of the McCron Family in the Moon River, Woods Bay, Georgian Bay area. By Rene McCron (by memory only)
Albert McCron, spouse of Jeannette McCron, first came to know of the Moon River Georgian Bay area by canoeing down the river from the highway 169 steel bridge. Their canoe went over the falls at the basin in Arnolds Bay (paddlers aborted). When seeking help they found Judson Arnold who helped them recover from their ordeal and they became friends.
From that point on Albert and friends Eddy Greffle and Olif Hofsten came back to the area by driving down Healy Lake Road (dirt and gravel), to its end (at the time) at Earl’s Marina on Healy Lake. They boated to the end of Healy Lake, at which point a man called Howard Connelly, who lived there in a tent, portaged them with a tractor to, which became in later years, Sunset Point. They camped on the point and fished the Moon River area, which at the time was pristine, and full of Walleye.
In their travels around the bay, Albert found a property for sale just outside of Woods Bay beyond Francis Island before coon gap in the North Channel, and purchased it. In those days, there was not an extension of Healy Lake Road to Woods Bay, but rather a crude trail built by Marshal Grisdale and friends. The McCron family, with some of their ten siblings and Albert’s friends joined forces to navigate this rudimentary road to Woods Bay by car and truck. The trip took about eight hours as mud holes and such had to be filled in.
Prior to this time, Eddy Greffle had settled down on a property in Arnolds Bay, and the family traversed a bush road, in a Volkswagen, from Twelve Mile Bay Road, and camped out on Eddy’s property. Once a year in the fall, Judson Arnold would take all the men from Twelve Mile Bay Marina, to his bay, in his twenty five foot mahogany wooden boat for duck hunting and fishing. We would stay at Eddy’s place.
Albert began to construct a cottage on his property. I, and my family, and the McCron family siblings camped out on Al’s property. There was no electricity or phone or official marina, so we purchased gas at Pierce’s lodge on Francis Island or Ray Brown’s Woods Bay Lodge (now Owens).
Pierce’s lodge was a marvel of construction. As a retired machinist he had a fully equipped machine shop on the waters edge. He built a grand lodge to entertain his guests. In it he had a beautiful fireplace, still standing to this day (the building was demolished by Russell Grew, as it was bat infested). He had the whole of Francis Island divided into lots, with cabins for his guests to stay, with electricity he supplied by diesel generator. He also had roads to the cabins and various cars and trucks to deliver the guests. Alas he passed away before we came to the area, but we did know Mrs. Pierce. They had a housekeeper who lived in his own place on the island, also whom we did not know.
At first Albert boated out of Moose Deer Point Marina until Marshal Grisdale offered us a place to launch at his place, which he gradually turned into a small marina. Communication between places on the bay, which now had electricity, since the extended Healy Lake Road to Woods Bay, was taken over by the Georgian Bay Township and paved, was by Citizens Band Radio. However hydro did not yet extend to the cottages, so for refrigeration, Jim Grisdale supplied blocks of ice, which his family cut from the bay in winter and stored all summer under sawdust and an insulated box construction. Thank goodness to us beer drinkers.
For visiting in the winter, we just went up when we thought it was ok. Many times we were caught out. For instance I came up late fall only to find the bay completely frozen over with six inches of snow on top. Marshal Grisdale said to me “you ain’t going anywhere”. Fortunately, Bob Dance (long time friend of Albert) invited me to stay with him beside Marshal’s place, in his rented cabin (which was originally a homestead of the original settlers even before the Grisdales). You always manage to have a good time on the Moon.
In time, my sister Pamela and her husband Vic Yountz and I, Rene McCron and wife Carol, bought a property from Everingham (part of broken lot 43, Concession 6), just opposite Francis Island, just before what we called the Needles Eye (too shallow for most boats to navigate and incidentally was the water supply for Albert and Jeannette in the winter time, procured by snowmobile and sleigh in plastic buckets, as it mostly never froze due to Moon River current). We built a tent platform on one part of the property, and tented for a few years before building a reconstructed cabin reclaimed from Marshal Grisdale’s property at Blackstone Harbour, where it empties into Woods Bay. This is the time when the government purchased all the cottage property in Blackstone Harbour to create the Massasauga Provincial Park and removed all traces of the original cottages.
Shortly after we built our cabin, we had an offer from hydro that, if we got 23 cottagers on our parcel of land to sign-up, we would get our hydro. So we did. Phones came shortly after with a radio receiver tower built on Grisdale’s road. Service was party line at first with sometimes confusing results (others could listen in). Radio service is still the norm today but modernized and digital. There aren’t many of us still using these landlines on our isolated property (water access only and surrounded by Massasauga Park), as people use their cell phones instead.
Albert and Jeannette got hydro but could not afford a septic system, so the outhouse remained even up to their deaths in 1989 for Albert and 1996 for Jeannette. Before hydro they had oil and aladdin lamps for sight, and a wood stove for cooking and heating.
In December 1978 my sister and I split our joint property into two and I owned the second property. This was done a year before the Archipelago was created. We would not have been able to split in the Archipelago, as the shoreline requirement was 200 feet. We had only 162 feet. We did not use our part of the land till I decided it was time to build in 1985. And that’s where we stand today.