Sifferd family estate donated to continue work on Friends of Misery Bay cottage

Cottage to become research station for scientists

MISERY BAY PROVINCIAL PARK—With funding being provided through a Sifferd family estate trust over the next few years, the Sifferd Cottage in Misery Bay Provincial Park will become a research station, as had been the dream of Cal and Eunice Sifferd. 

They hoped the cottage they had built and owned would be protected and available for use by researchers carrying out work on the unique features of the park.

“Our hope is that this cottage be used as a research station for scientists and researchers carrying out studies and to be able to stay overnight to use when they visit,” said Mindy Kerr, daughter of Tom Moore and his late wife Ellie, and granddaughter of Mr and Ms. Sifferd. “Ontario Parks began this project, after receiving funding a couple of years ago, but they have a long way to go: The building has to be brought up to code. Money provided from a Sifferd family member trust should take this project over the top.”

“I first spoke with the family about the donation in the winter and we were finally able to meet in late June. I met with members of the Sifferd family as well as representatives from the Friends of Misery Bay,” said Ryan Gardner, superintendent of Sudbury/Manitoulin Island area parks with Ontario Parks. “A local carpenter, Roland Aeschlimann, was also present to help look into the building and items that could and would be needed.” 

Mr. Gardner said, “Ontario Parks is fully committed to working with both the Sifferd family and the Friends of Misery Bay on this project.” He continued, “over the years, Ontario Parks and the Friends of Misery Bay have worked collaboratively to help maintain the cottage and, in 2016, a number of repairs and upgrades were completed.”

“Although there is still much work to be done, I am confident this donation will help bring the Sifferd Cottage to its intended purpose,” said Mr. Gardner. “Research has always been a part of Misery Bay Provincial Park and was an important aspect of protection to the original family, and having this facility available will help researchers study and document the rare ecosystems and flora and fauna within the park.”

A meeting was held earlier this summer at the Sifferd Cottage at Misery Bay Provincial Park. In photo, left to right, is Ontario Parks
Superintendent Ryan Gardner, Tom Moore, Mindy and Brian Kerr and Roland Aeschlimann.

Mr. and Ms. Sifferd were the former landowners of the Misery Bay property and the cottage (on the property they used as a summer cottage). Originally, it was the Sifferds who started work to have the property listed and regulated to become a provincial park and for their cottage to be protected and used for research in the park. 

In 2016, Ontario Parks began renovating the facility with more work to be phased in over a number of years. The renovation will ensure the cottage meets the applicable building codes and will focus on making the cottage environmentally-friendly.

The Sifferd family acquired lands around Misery Bay in the late 1950s and the Sifferd Cottage was their summer home. Knowing the landscape was special, they began working with local and provincial government agencies and other non-profit groups to protect it for future generations. Their vision was complete in 1989 when the land was regulated as a provincial park. It was the Sifferd’s vision and ability to foster partnerships that transformed Misery Bay from private property to provincially-protected parkland. As part of this, the Sifferds also donated their summer cottage in hopes of fostering protection and research. The Sifferds have had a great passion for Misery Bay for over three generations. 

Existing upgrades include items such as bigger windows and doors, solar power infrastructure and exterior weather sealing. A deck at the cottage has been replaced and furniture has been put in the cottage. 

“Most of the work in the cottage will be related to required safety upgrades and sealing the facility to the elements,” said Mr. Gardner. “Once that is complete, we will be working towards upgrading the interior and completing the solar-generated power system.”

“It was back in 1959 that my grandparents bought the property and started to build the cottage,” said Ms. Kerr.  “They lived in their camper while they built what was the first part of the cottage, which was to be turned into a garage (but never was). Cal built the whole thing himself including the three stone fireplaces in the cottage.”

“When they bought the property, it was back in the day there was no power out here, and I can remember when we first started coming to visit in the summers, breakfast always included Tang (the orange drink that the astronauts would drink) and powdered milk, and canned ham for dinner,” said Ms. Kerr. 

Over the years there were additions made to the cottage, including the main “living room, a second bedroom, bathroom, kitchen,” said Ms. Kerr. “With all the upgrades we plan to make to the building,  we want to keep the original feel of the cottage and make it even better than it was, and make sure it is up to code,” said Ms. Kerr.

The cottage was used by the family from 1959-1998 when “my parents broke ground for their new cottage at Portage Point,” said Ms. Kerr.  

After providing money from a family member who passed away, a meeting was held involving Mr. Gardner of Ontario Parks, Ted Kilpatrick and John Diebolt of FOMB, Ms. Kerr and her husband Brian, and Mr. Aeschlimann. The trust funds from the Sifferd family member were provided with the request that Ms. Kerr have an input on what is being planned for the cottage.

“Right now we are waiting to get bids for the work that still needs to be done and then we will be setting priorities,” Ms. Kerr told The Recorder.  She knew this was what the Sifferd family member would have wanted, to put money into restoring the cottage. “When she was very ill and close to passing on she asked me to bring her a poster of Misery Bay on a visit my husband and I made up here. We brought her back this poster and she saw it. She passed on the next day. She preferred to remain anonymous as well as the amount she donated. She didn’t visit the cottage very often, but she loved the cottage and the property because it was so peaceful.”