Founder of Maple Lodge a woman ahead of her time

The wonderful summer memories at Maple Lodge that began in the 1930s, were created by a remarkable young woman, Beatrice Louise Berry (nee Baker). At first Beatrice wanted to help her parents after her father lost his job during the depression. Beatrice’s idea was to take in summer boarders at the Baker home, a 14-acre property north of Bondville Road.

In 1931, at the age of 28, Beatrice made ambitious plans to expand, all while working full-time as a comptometer – a complex adding machine operator in Montreal. First, she purchased the property from her parents. Then she hired a carpenter to build an eight-bedroom addition and Maple Lodge was born.

The next step was to acquire an adjoining property that led to the lake. The landowner, Ralph Noyes, was not interested in selling. As Beatrice’s younger son, Bruce, tells the story, when Beatrice and her soon to be husband Jim Berry, arrived at the Noyes’ residence one July evening in 1935, Beatrice asked Jim to stay in the car while she went in to negotiate. An hour later, she emerged as the new owner of 45 acres of land with extensive footage along Brome Lake.

More expansions followed over the years until the lodge had 35 bedrooms. When demand was greater than capacity Beatrice’s bold solution was to ask compatible strangers of the same gender if they would mind sharing a room. They didn’t, evidence of just how much they enjoyed the hospitality.

Beatrice wrote a letter to her ‘Dear Valued Guests’ in April of 1939: “A modern Frigidaire has been installed ensuring fresh foods at all times. An automatic phonograph has been installed in the Recreation Hall where we will have dancing every evening.” All for the price of $12/week, including three meals a day. That’s $221 in today’s money. “She knew her numbers,” recalls her son Bruce.

When a guest commented to Beatrice that they weren’t comfortable staying at the lodge because a black couple had just checked in, Beatrice’s apt reply was “Well then let me call you a taxi”.

After her first son, Robert, was born in 1943, Beatrice built a log cabin for her family by the lake along with seven cottages that would be rented out for the season. Many families rented them year after year.

Maple Lodge stopped renting rooms in the 70s but rented out the cottages into the 90s. Beatrice passed away in 1979. Jim Berry and his family continued to summer at the property until he died in 1996, after which the property was sold.