Monthly Archives: February 2013

Automobile Touring – Knight’s Kamp Dining Hall, Ontario

PhotoSince the late 19th century, what we now call cottages or cabins were known in Eastern Ontario as “camps”. As the affordability of automobiles made family touring possible thousands of commercial, privately operated holiday “camps” sprung up to serve tourists who could not afford (or did not wish) to own a cottage of their own. These rustic resorts usually consisted of a cluster of brightly painted wooden cabins located convenient to a sparkling lake. Some were able to offer a sand or pebble beach. In the centre of the camp was the dining hall which might also serve as a restaurant for day-trippers.

Knight’s Kosy Kabins and Kamp was located on the north shore of Lake Ontario east of Toronto, possibly in the Oshawa/Whitby area. This snapshot appears to have been taken in the early 1950’s. The flag (a Union Jack) tells us that we are not on “the American side”, as does the Bell sign which informed travellers of those days that there was a pay telephone available. The Telegram sign would be promoting the Toronto Telegram, one of the two newspapers. The old “Telly” is now nearly forgotten. Tin signs advertising 7-Up and Orange Crush encouraged thirsty travellers to come in. As well as cold soft drinks, such dining halls offered postcards as well as penny candies, gum and peanuts to tempt the children. Many sold cigarettes as well.

Most holiday camps derived most of their business from the excellent sport fishing in eastern Ontario. However, with the danger of the vast open water of Lake Ontario, it is likely that Knight’s Kabins catered more to travellers who stopped overnight on the way to another destination. There was probably also local business from beach-seekers on hot weekends. If a camp was lucky enough to have a good cook, it sometimes evolved into a destination for the delicious Sunday lunches which tempted restless families in the 1950’s.

If anyone knows more about Knight’s Kosy Kabins I would be interested to know.

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