Holiday Haven

History of Holiday Haven, as told by Terry Jones

Aerial antique car
Aerial View of Holiday Haven Antique Car Show At Holiday Haven

The land on which Holiday Haven stood belonged to the Drake family.  The property was handed down from generation to generation until Heber Jones purchased it after Roy Drake’s death in the late 1950s.  Roy Drake was a bachelor and the last Drake to own the house and property.  Heber was a relation of the Drakes and felt that the residence would make a nice summer home for his family.  The house was once a beautiful home with lovely gardens but fell into disrepair as Roy began to age.  The Jones family made a lot of repairs did a lot of cleaning after they purchased the home and property.  The property included nine outbuildings and old farm machinery that also needed to be cleaned up and cleared away.

During the first few years that the Jones owned the property, family friends visited and camped out on their beautiful property which overlooked the West River.  At that time (1960/61) Cavendish Campground was doing very well, so the family decided that their property would also make a lovely campground, and so their business began.  They started advertising by sticking brochures in car windshields.  The first couple of years proved to be rough for the new business.  There was a lot of rain and mud.  The Ferry Road was also unpaved, which made accessing the campground rather messy and difficult.  The family petitioned the government for five years before they saw a paved road.  Holiday Haven started out with less than twenty campsites, all tent sites at that time.  Each year the campground continued to grow.

When the Jones family realized that their initiative was proving to be successful, they began to build up the campground.  Their first building was the registration office.  A lunch counter was also added in that building.  Washrooms were added around the campground, as was a recreation room. Additional structures were added as needed.  The campground eventually housed a store, a restaurant and a night club.  An outdoor pool was also installed during the summer of 1972.  Many of the residents of Cornwall made their way to the campground to use the pool.  The Jones even built a mini golf course on the grounds. 

Holiday Haven was truly a family-run business.  Mr. & Mrs. Jones had three sons who all helped out and each had a certain job to perform at the campground.  Their youngest child, a daughter was still too young to help out around the campground during the time they operated it.  Mr. Jones and his son Terry took care of any maintenance needs.  Terry was also responsible for recreational activities.  His mother looked after the registration office and the store while his brother Rodney helped with the books and the staff.  Harry and Louise Lowther who were cousins of the Jones’s also helped out with the campground.  An apartment was added onto one of the buildings to accommodate them.

Terry described the late 1970’s as being the “hay day” at the campground.  It was a busy and fun place to be.  There was an endless amount of activities taking place at Holiday Haven.  Things like campfires, singsongs, ghost stories, games, square dances, bingo, hay-rides, and ball games were held on an almost daily basis.  Campers also took the opportunity to swim in Bass Cove and along the shores of the West River.  There had been a raft in the cove and on rare occasions when the camp ground was not too busy, the Jones children would take in some water skiing along the river.  The shore was also a good place for clam digging and for campfires; clam bakes and fish fries also took place down at the shore.  At one time when deep-sea fishing was popular, the campers would bring their catch back to the campground and the staff would cook it for them over a campfire at the shore.  The Jones family had even created a sort of “Kiss-the-cod” type ceremony for those campers who had never eaten clams.  The campers could go to the shore, dig the clams, help bake them, and eat them.  They would then be presented with a certificate which certified them as official Holiday Haven camper.

Other special events took place at Holiday Haven.  The Girl Guides troops would make camping trips to Holiday Haven.  The campground also hosted dog shows and antique car shows.  It was the ideal place for families to take vacations, back during a time when parents and children alike enjoyed family vacations.  With plenty of daily activities, lots of space, and all the amenities that were needed, parents felt totally comfortable allowing their children to run around and play in the campground all day in safety.  There would be as many as 1200 people in the campground during the height of the season.

The Jones family operated Holiday Haven until 1984 when they sold the campground to a couple from British Columbia.  The couple continued to operate the campground under the same name but eventually sold it a few years later.  That couple in turn sold it to Dick & Annett Tole, who later sold it to Barry & Donna King in 2009.  At that time the Kings had changed Holiday Haven into KOA campground.  The Kings are the current proprietors of the campground.  During the time when the Jones family operated the campground, they had seen a great many changes.  Families had progressively transitioned from camping in tents to large, fully loaded trailers with air-conditioning and televisions.  Campers had also strayed from family activities around the campground to individual day trips.  Family vacations have very much changed over the years.  As for the campground itself, the original 18 sites turned in to over 350 by the time the Jones’s had sold it.  They had also planted over 3000 trees during the time they operated the campground.  Interestingly, the original house built by the original Drake’s in the late 1800’s still stands in the middle of the campground and serves as a summer home to the current owners.

bar caf
Bar at Holiday Haven Cafeteria at Holiday Haven

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