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Kenwick-on-the-Lake Gets new look

Posted in: Concerts & Events, Friends & Neighbours, News | No Comments | Posted on by Mary Anne

Friday May 22, 2022 - UPDATE… Almost a year later we did a visit to Kenwick-on-the-Lake Park with 3 of our grandkids during Victoria Day weekend.  It is a lovely park that the kids loved playing at.  Facing the lake is a large display with pictures of the old dancing pavillioin and it’s interesting history.  Also has a list of all those who contributed to the new music theme play area - including Cheeky Monkey.  All we did was recommend Mike Blackmore when the producers contacting us asking for a musicain.  We knew he was an excellent builder too, so he was REALLY put to work.  Ironically, Mike posted the episode on Facebook today so I watched it for the first time.  Here it is for you to enjoy too.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH TVO KIDS program GIVER

Friday May 2, 2022 UPDATE...  as reported in the -… TVO’s “Giver” program is featuring work being done by area residents to breathe life back into an iconic and historic park on the shore of Lake Huron in Bright’s Grove. The television program featuring Kenwick on the Lake Park will be aired on Wednesday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. One of the organizers of the work done last summer is Ken Stothers, a member of the Seaway Kiwanis Club. “The producers of the TV show were here last summer during the makeover of the park and are airing the episode that was created during the work we all did,” said Stothers. More than 100 volunteers, including members of the Labourers Union 1089, local fire fighters, and students from the Lambton College Building and Trades program, as well as families from the Bright’s Grove area were involved. The facility, originally created in the 1950s by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Kennedy, has a history of hosting “big bands” and special entertainment, among them Guy Lombardo Les Brown, Louis Armstrong, Alice Cooper and Bobby Vinton.

Friday, June 27 2013 UPDATE - photos courtesy of Mike Blackmore, who was the guest musician as well as a volunteer carpenter (he’s great at both jobs if you are looking to hire either).

From what I understand, there is more work to be done over the next year on the historic area.  New washrooms are one of the future projects slated to be done.  My suggestion is to stop at the park some time and see it for yourself.


The GIVER crew and trucks ready to work






Crowd waiting patiently for the Opening Ceremonies to begin.

Opening Ceremonies of the new Kenwick-On-The-Lake Park.  Can you spot Mayor Mike?

Mike Blackmore and the Kenwick Rap Band

Thursday, June 20 UPDATE - This just in from Rennata, the producer of TVOKids show GIVER…  Grand opening of the Kenwick-on-the-lake Park is all set for Thursday June 27th.

Itinerary as follows…
2:00 pm- Ceremony begins with speech by Mayor Bradley followed by speech by the Kenwick on the Lake committee chairs (Ken Stothers and Ken Machan)
2:30 pm- Special performance from Giver kids featuring Mike Blackmore local artist
2:45 pm- kids cut ribbon and say speech
2:50 pm- park is open and public is invited to play!

Friday June 14 UPDATE -THIS JUST IN FROM Ken Strothers – one of the local organizers of the GIVER project to re-do the Kenwick Park.  ”We have 22 Lambton
College Building Trades students, plus some Labor Union members to do our
cement work, and a half dozen Fire Fighters each day…along with another
small group of volunteers…  At this point we think we will have 50
volunteers each day.  They will be either building the gazebo, or installing
the playground equipment, or building the boardwalk between the playground
structures, or painting, or spreading wood chips, etc. etc.”

“We still need donations to purchase some of the supplies for the park
makeover.  Donations are tax deductible. ”

Anyone wanting to make a donation should make their cheque payable to:
‘City of Sarnia/Kenwick On The Lake Park Project’ and mail their cheque to:

Ken Stothers, Co-chair,
Kenwick On The Lake Park Committee,
2976 Lakeview Trail,
Brights Grove, Ont. N0N1C0. or call: 519-869-6800

Monday June 2 UPDATE - One of the musicians we recommended to Rennata for the show GIVER was musician, carpenter and all round good guy, MIKE BLACKMORE.  I just spoke to him and he informed me he was just talking with Rennata and it is a go for him to be both a musical guest for the music theme playground project AND a builder.  The project will be worked on and filmed June 26 and the GRAND OPENING is on June 27.  Not sure of the TV airing date yet but I will do my best to keep you posted!

Thursday May 30 - Our day started out very interesting - more so than usual.  We got a phone call from Rennata of Sinking Ship Productions in Toronto.  They produce the show GIVER for TVOKids channel and were looking for recommendations of local musicians to be on an upcoming program which airs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday or can be viewed by clicking here.

First question I asked is, “What is GIVER?”  She explained it is a reality show similar to Extreme Home Makeover, but instead of houses being fixed up,  it is  playground makeovers that are done by primarily kids with help of volunteers.

Turns out for the upcoming season 2 of the show, the Brights Grove park known as Kenwick has been chosen.  Even further, as a homage to it’s former fame of being Kenwick-On-The-Lake Dance Pavilion, a theme of music will be used for the NEW playground design.

That is where we come in.  Rennata did a web search for SARNIA MUSIC and our website popped up.  After taking a look at our site and thinking we looked like a ‘fun’ place that knows about local music, Rennata called us asking for a recommendation of a local musician that would be willing to be part of the project and the Opening Ceremony due to happen on June 27!

 As she’s explaining this to me, I’m thinking of several names to suggest as well as giving thanks to Dan & Ray of Kone Marketing for designing our wonderful site.

Rennata now has 2 very good options of more than suitable talent to choose from.  Watch for more info on this project as I become aware of it.

In the meantime, here is a little background on the former Kenwick-On-The Lake from an article I found on  It is only a portion of an article told in the voice of a Grandfather talking to his granddaughter.  The author of the article is Bob McCarthy.

… Do you know that the town of Bright’s Grove was once called Crinnian’s Grove. But I am getting distracted. Jack Kennedy, a talented musician and band leader, had operated the Starlite Gardens in Pt Edward prior to 1943 when he opened Kenwick Terrace in downtown Sarnia. The opening night at Kenwick Terrace in January 1943  featured Louis Armstrong.   A few years later, in 1946, he purchased a dance hall in Crinnian’s Grove. The dance hall was extensively rebuilt over the next few months and opened as Kenwick-on-the-Lake in June 1946.

“Kenwick -on-the-Lake drew dancers and music lovers from all over to hear big name bands along the shore of Lake Huron. The name Kenwick comes from the first part of Jack Kennedy’s last name and the last part of his wife Genevieve’s maiden name Warwick.

“Kenwick-on-the-Lake attracted big name bands such as Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo, Louis Armstrong, and Glen Miller to play to crowds of up to 3,000 on weekends. Many of the shows were also broadcast by radio across Canada. The Governor-General of Canada visited Kenwick-on-the-Lake on the opening night in June 1946. We were there that night.

“The business was expanded to include rock gardens, dining rooms, a bathhouse and stand to rent out bathing suits, a concession booth, an outdoor bowling alley, kid’s rides and a popcorn machine. But the music was always the main draw.

“With many cottages nearby and new renters every week or two, there were always new people wanting to dance at the Kenwick. Locals and visitors alike would enjoy dancing to songs such as ‘Moonglow’ and ‘That Old Black Magic’.

“Now, my dear, do you know what big show took place there on the evening of July 29, 1946?”

As she moved her head from side to side, her grandfather continued.

“July 29, 1946 was a Monday. It was the height of the summer along the shores of Lake Huron. Kenwick-on-the-Lake had opened just one month earlier and was already popular with the dance crowds. This evening would feature music as always, but with a difference. Backed by the Jack Kennedy Orchestra, the show would celebrate the first radio broadcast by Sarnia’s own radio station with the call sign of CHOK.

“Promptly at 7:00 P.M., a fanfare resounded throughout the county as the prelude to a program that lasted for 6 hours. Canada’s newest radio station was on the air.

“The show headliners that night were Dorothy Deane and Russ Titus, stars of the Cashmere Bouquet House Party of the 1940’s, who appeared in person during the inaugural show for CHOK. There were also special greetings for Canada’s newest radio station from entertainment greats Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Vaughan Monroe and Guy Lombardo.

“CHOK, then owned by H.M. Hueston, A.D. Mackenzie and Claude R. Irvine, was officially welcomed by W.C. Nelson, Mayor of the City of Sarnia and Bryan Cathcart, M.P.P.”

As he heard a ringing sound, the man stopped speaking. His granddaughter jumped up and exclaimed “That’s the doorbell, Grandpa. Johnny is here. I have to go.”

She walked over to his chair, gave him a hug and, with a smile in her voice, told him “Grandpa, I always enjoy your stories. Good night. I will see you later.”

As she walked away from him in her pretty formal dress, he spoke in a whisper. “How beautiful she is. She looks so much like her grandmother did as we left home so many Saturdays to go dancing at one of the emporiums. I miss you so much. God rest your soul. We will be together again some day, dancing on the clouds to the music we loved so much.” Then, as he closed his eyes, his mind went back to the days when the two of them would jump into the old model T and head up to the Bend or the Grove.

It was only a few minutes before he had fallen asleep in his chair.

HISTORICAL NOTES from the author Bob McCarthy: 

When the popularity of the big bands declined in the late 1950’s, the owners of Kenwick-on-the-Lake tried Sunday night concerts (such as Alice Cooper), wrestling, square dancing and summer theatre. But the combination of damage caused by the 1954 tornado, a later fire and declining attendance led to its closing in 1962.

All that remains today is the terrazo pavilion floor which now serves as a basketball court in Kenwick Park in Bright’s Grove.



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