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Waterborne Squash
… Campement d’Ours Island, Ontario

By Ron Beck, contributed by Jake and William Dann. Photos
by Jake Dann  
Squashtalk Independent News; ©
October, 2006 SquashTalk LLC

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Island
dwellers on the large lakes of the north woods have always
displayed their individuality and creativity through
the wide variety of structures, dwellings, boathouses,
outhouses and docks that they have conceived and constructed.

The Scudder court, on
Campement d’Ours Island (photo © 2006 Jake Dann)

On
an isolated wind-swept Island on the northern reaches
of Lake Huron is one of the most improbable of these
creations – a beautifully built and well preserved squash
court perched on the rocks and overlooking the waves
and the water.

This
squash court dates back to the very earliest years of the
Twentieth century, just after 1900, when the prominent Scudder
family of Lake Forest, Illinois purchased an island on Lake
Huron, now known as Scudder’s Island and began spending summers
there.

In
1922, the Scudders decided that summer life on Lake Huron
just wouldn’t be complete without a squash court. The court
and the building which housed it have survived the last 84
years of sun, wind, rain, ice, wind and more ice.

court view outside
The natural lighting and
ample gallery of the Scudder court (photo © 2006
Jake Dann)

At
the time that the court was built, there was no refrigeration,
source of electricity or any similar amenity on the islands
(today generators can supply electricity), so the court was
constructed with windows and skylights in the structure to
provide playing light. Constructed by a well-known builder
at the time, a Mr. Dick Shaugnessey, the entire cost of the
project in 1922 was $800. Close to the court is also an island-based
sauna, fuelled by wood.

The
exact ties of the Scudders to squash are not known but the
Scudders had embarked on a somewhat unsuccessful quest to
convince many of their Chicago friends that the remote spot
that they had selected for summer fun was actually easy to
reach (by boat) from Chicago.

The
property later passed into the hands of the Ellis family,
and a group of summer dwellers has gotten together into an
informal "club" to provide the funds that keep the court
in shape, and of course to enjoy the squash.

This stark structure, perched
on Canadian rock, has withstood 84 winters in style. (photo © 2006
Jake Dann)

This
remote court is in frequent demand during the summer months.
One of the more illustrious players to make regular use of
the court over many decades is William Dann, of Buffalo New
York, who has been
many-time US age-group Doubles Champion, including most recently,
the two-time over 70 U.S. doubles champion with partner Nelson
Graves.

This
classic court, which is only reachable by boat, is in excellent
playing condition and the building housing the court has
been renewed with new windows. Another unique feature of
the court is a period northwoods mural (see photo) which
is also well preserved. The court has a roomy gallery for
those spectators who might also accompany the players by
boat.

Bill Dann flanked by the
court’s northwoods murals
(photo © 2006
Jake Dann

grips

 

 







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