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The Ardnamurchan Club

Jackson Ricker, in his "Historical Sketches of Glenwood and the Argyles", published in 1941, devoted a chapter to the contributions of Summer Visitors to this area.  Foremost among these ‘tourists' were the members of a family which included Clarks, Coxes, Bryants, Tabers, Pages and Woods.  Their story, as told by Ricker, is directly quoted from information sent to him by the then president of the Club, John L. Cox, and is as follows:

"In the summer of 1907 Dr. and Mrs. William S. Clark of New York went to Chester, Nova Scotia, with the idea of purchasing a small property for a summer residence which should meet certain requirements.  At Chester they saw nothing that met their needs.  A chance acquaintance in the shape of a physician from Halifax suggested that they should go to Argyle where a much wider latitude of choices was possible.   Adopting this suggestion they left the train at Pubnico, took a team and drove through to Argyle.   On their way they noticed a rustic lane that led towards the harbor, but had not time to explore it.

"The following year Dr. and Mrs. Clark returned to Nova Scotia and took quarters at the Frost Inn at Argyle, whence they explored the country on every side, including, of course, that previously noticed rustic lane.  The view that there unfolded was so lovely to their delighted eyes that they felt they had their desideratum, and secured an option on some land.

"The idea then occurred to Mrs. Clark that some of her seven brothers and sisters might like to secure part of the adjoining lands.   When this was suggested, the family, singly and in groups, came up, looked over the country and decided favorably.  All wanted an opportunity of being near each other when summer made it possible, for their homes were widely scattered in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Chicago.  Then lest differences in financial means, artistic taste, and social qualities should cause dissension in a singularly harmonious family, it was concluded that the best use of any purchased property would be for Mrs. James S. Cox, Mrs. Clark's mother, to build a sort of club house where all would have equal rights and privileges.  The purchase of sufficient land was then made, title being vested in The Ardnamurchan Club chartered under the laws of Nova Scotia.  The incorporators of the club were Mary F. Cox, Martha L. Bryant, Fanny H. Clark, Julia B. Taber, John L. Cox, Edith C. Page, Erskine H. Cox, Alice C. Wood, and Edward V. Cox.

"Plans for the house were roughed out by one member of the family, criticized by others and revised, and finally completed by an architect of Boston, George F. Newton.  The house was built in 1909 by Messrs. Rhodes Curry and Co. of Amherst, Nova Scotia.  The ground floor comprises three bedrooms, four bath or toilet rooms, smoking room, billiard room, living room, library, dining room, pantry, kitchen, laundry and children's kitchen.  Three stairways lead to the first floor, where there are fourteen bedrooms, six bathrooms, linen, medicine and service closets.  A single broad flight leads to the second floor, which consists of a large dormitory for men, a smaller one for women, and one for children, with bathrooms and shower baths.  Lighting is by acetylene gas.  To provide for cars it was necessary to build a garage, and for making quick repairs to plant and equipment there is a small carpenter shop and blacksmith shop.

After being struck once by lightning, the house and principal buildings were thoroughly equipped with lightning rods. "The property comprises about 215 acres on the mainland and 500 acres of islands, including . . . Birch, Bond, Dyes and its thrum, Eagle, Hart, Hamilton, Hay Islands, Hines, Hog, Knoll, Ram or McLarren Islands, Rankin, Ryder and Tater.  As for so large a household an abundant supply of water was necessary, and as the numerous wells already on the old farms comprising the property, including a new, very large well dug, proved very insufficient, a well was driven to the depth of about 280 feet, which furnishes an ample supply.   The requirement in the way of vegetables and milk called for the development of a considerable farm, and a large garden.   At present [ca. 1940] there are on the place one horse, two oxen, nine milking cows, pigs, chickens.  The customary farm machinery is in use, including tractors.

"The extent of the garden may be estimated from the fact that about three quarters of a mile of peas are grown beside a wide selection of some twenty kinds of plants and vegetables together with roots for stock, grain and hay.  For an amusement and exercise the lawn has two tennis courts and one paddle tennis court and a play house where the young people can resort to enjoy their own sports and play.  For water sports there are several power boats, sailing boats, row boats, and a fleet of canoes."

 Ricker goes on to point out that such an establishment gave employment to a large number of men, and we should conclude that local women were hired as well. [My own brother-in-law, Capt. Clifford Melville Seeley, who grew up in Central Argyle, was among those who, as a teenager, worked at "the Club" during the summer months.]

 In addition, Ricker says, the development of such a property has "resulted in a higher assessment for Municipal and School purposes.  The Central Argyle School is very materially aided through the taxes paid by the Club."    Furthermore, he writes, "to convert very rocky rough land, long neglected, into a productive farm with attractive and pleasure-giving surroundings and conveniences is an achievement that merits commendation.

 "The Argyles", he concludes, "are to be congratulated on having in the personnel of the Ardnamurchan Club a people of high moral tone and exemplary character, showing interest in the local churches, and all worthy community affairs.   The contacts . . . as the years have passed, resulted in strengthened friendship and good will."

 [It is our understanding that the spirit of friendship and good will continues to this day  in the presence in Argyle of members of the family comprising the Ardnamurchan Club.]

We acknowledge with thanks the book by the late Jackson Ricker of Glenwood, ‘Historical Sketches of Glenwood and the Argyles', published 1941, and made available for use on the  website by the Argyle Historic Church Restoration Committee.   Copies, at $14.00 (which includes postage) are available by writing to the  following address: Argyle Historic Church, Box 25, RR#1 Glenwood, N.S.  B0W 1W0. 

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