Friday 24 July 2015

Happy Campers at Marygrove

For many Ontarians, summer is synonymous with camping.  Maybe it’s a long weekend at a campground roasting marshmallows or a family road trip in the camper van. For many children and teenagers, it’s an annual tradition to go away to camp with their peers.

In the early 1950s, Mgsr. Jean Marie Castex, pastor of St. Ann’s in Penetanguishene, began an all-girls Catholic summer camp. Marygrove Camp was situated within parish territory on the shores of Georgian Bay. Over the years it developed into one of the best-equipped, best-run camps in the province. However, by 1961 its success made the camp too much for the parish to handle. Msgr. Castex asked that Catholic Charities take over and run the program specifically for underprivileged girls:
“Monsignor knows there are hundreds of needy girls in the in the Archdiocese who would benefit from a two-week period at the Camp.  He wants to see the Camp used exclusively for needy girls rather than girls who possess and can afford forms of summer recreation, including camping, in other surroundings. In addition, the Camp is quite an enterprise for one parish and might not be continued by a succeeding pastor.” (OC12.MC01, 21 Mar 1961)
Catholic Charities welcomed the transfer of Marygrove Camp to their care and gave the Toronto Central Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society responsibility for its supervision and financing.

Generations later, the Council continues to offer fully subsidized 8-day camping holidays for 1,100 girls aged 5 to 13. The Marygrove Camp for Girls is supported by special collections taken at Archdiocese of Toronto parishes, as well as outside charities, like The Toronto Star’s Fresh Air Fund. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Toronto Central Council also runs a similar Camp Ozanam for Boys in Stouffville.

The following photos were taken in the 1950s, when Marygrove was still run as a Catholic girls' camp by one of the parish priests at St. Ann's.  The collection comes from Rev. John Joseph Kelly, who was the associate pastor under Msgr. Castex from 1949 to 1962.

Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-126P

Rev. John Jospeh Kelly, associate pastor at St. Ann's Parish in Penetanguishene,
oversees the construction of camp cabins [ca. 1950]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-80P

Aerial photograph of the Marygrove Camp shoreline on Georgian Bay near Penetang [1956]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-117P
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-11P

Group photo of the 1954 Marygrove Camp staff, including counsellors, nurses, kitchen staff, custodians and Rev. Kelly
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-10P

Making a splash [1954]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-23P

It's all fun and games [1954]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-29P

Each cabin was named after a patron saint [1955]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-126P

Sitting on the dock of the (Georgian) Bay [1956]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-50P

Campers in front of Mary shrine [1955]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-53P and 55P

Always a bit of drama! [1956]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-94P

The camp accepts girls as young as five [1959]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-95P

Target practice [1959]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-102P

Arts and crafts [1959]
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-107P

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, Merrily is Marygrove verily
Life is but a dream!
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-107P
Rev. John Joseph Kelly fonds, PH73-15P

Raising the Union Jack [1954]

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