SILVER Lake has been a hot topic in the papers lately, and so it should be. It’s an iconic piece of Port Dover. I knew it as my playground.
When I was young, it was where I would hang out. We would create hockey rinks on it, and spend endless days swimming in it. Heck, to celebrate our grade 8 graduation we even skinny dipped off the dam.
We used to hang out at “Fletcher’s,” not sure why it was called that, but it was right near the CNR train station. There was a tree there, a big rope, and we would swim there all day. A lot of us guys had our first kiss there. Our biggest concern was not the girls, but the alleged snapping turtles that lurked below the depths.
Silver Lake was not initially a lake, but a dam. It is actually a river held up by the dam to power industries down river.
We used it as a short cut in winter to go to my buddy’s house, Dave Buck who lived on Prospect Hill. I still remember the fright of listening to the ice crack as we crossed the lake. Some years the ice didn’t freeze over, and the actual river was exposed. One year Dave’s dog ran down to the ice and fell into the river. He couldn’t get back up on the slippery ice. We all ran down to help.
We were probably 12 or 13 years old. My friend Billy “Bung” Laing jumped on the ice to help the dog, but the ice dipped and he fell in. Fortunately the dog was able to climb up on the dipped ice floe and Bung as well.
Silver Lake was also used as a place for swimming lessons. I enrolled in the course. It was just off the Ivey plant. One day I invited my friend to watch me. I was quite proud of myself, though I couldn’t yet swim. Many of my co-swimmers were doing all kinds of “mermaid” like exercises into the depths of Silver Lake and I felt challenged so I thought I had to do something different, though “Dog Paddling” was my level of swimming skills.
I wanted to show off for my buddy. There was a rope, to make sure no one went too deep into the lake. That was my goal. I dove in and swam under water and popped up with my arms in the air, and my head under water. I proceeded to walk towards the rope, with my head still under water; not realizing I had swam past the rope. I was heading into the depths of Silver Lake!
Suddenly, just as I was out of breath, this “man” (Steve Anstee), who was probably 18, and fully clothed, grabbed me and pulled me to the surface. I will never forget it.
Silver Lake has had a huge impact on Port Dover. We should never let that go.
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