The following is a précis of “Thank God for Rondeau”: A Look at the Cottage Community and the Leaseholders’ Association, as found in the Associations Centennial book “Rondeau Provincial Park 1894-1994”.
For nearly the past century, cottaging has been a part of the Rondeau Park community. The cottagers take great pride in the park which they consider their “second home”, actively promoting the betterment of the park for cottagers and other users through the Rondeau Cottagers Association.
Isaac Gardiner, (Rondeau’s first Superintendent), was looking to promote the still mostly empty park as a people place, and in 1894, a cottage survey took place, when twenty lots were surveyed on each the lakeside and the bayside. Park management became involved in a strongly-promoted leasing policy to encourage the establishment of a summer cottage community. The cottage community grew slowly and gradually at first, with the cottages being built on lots leased from the Crown. Additional lot surveys took place in 1906, 1922 and 1924.
The first major building boom came in 1922-23, when 140 cottages were constructed. In 1923 an electrical line was installed, with the cottagers paying for most of the expense.
In 1928 the Rondeau Park Leaseholders’ Association was formed for the “purpose of promoting the best interests of its members and to assist in the improvement and development of Rondeau Provincial Park as a place of highly wholesome and recreational opportunities.”
Eventually, the number of cottages in the park hit a maximum number of 461, but in 1954 a new Ministry policy ended automatic lease renewals in Rondeau & Algonquin Provincial Parks.
This policy change also marked the start of a long, intensive lobbying effort by the Rondeau Cottagers Association to try to reshape government policy to recognize & preserve the cottage community. In fact, this lobbying effort is still ongoing today, sixty years later.
In 2014, the Rondeau Cottagers Association mission statement places an added stress on “protecting, preserving, and promoting Rondeau’s natural & historical environment.”