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Our Boat Parade Grand Marshal

Mary Jo Whalen

Photo by Barb Kane

Photo by Gary Horning

In 1936, MaryJo’s mother, Fleeta Powers Whalen felt that the fresh air and sunshine of Sylvia Lake would improve the health of Mary who was recovering from scarlet fever. Fleeta talked Ernest Jackson, from Gouverneur, into renting his camp for a week of wonderful sunshine.

It rained every day! Not to be outdone by the weather, the Whalen family moved next door to the Dawley camp (now Hayden) for two weeks. While there, they discovered the Cameron camp for sale.

A sale was made and the family moved again. Meanwhile, the sun shone, Mary’s health improved, and both Whalen children, Robert and Mary were learning to swim. Four generations of the Whalen family have enjoyed this camp for 77 years. (Sylvia Lake Legacy, 1807-2007, page 101)

Sadly, Robert "Bob" Whalen, passed away very unexpectedly in a snowmobile accident on March 4, 2013.

In Mary Jo’s words:

I have spent over seventy summers on the lake. In the early years, I remember exploring all over with my brother Robert, swimming, surfboarding and sitting in a plane as he skied behind it. Later, I taught lake children swimming lessons and my nieces and nephews to swim, sail, canoe and waterski. I watched them learn to enjoy all that I loved about Sylvia Lake.

I have fond memories of sailing with my nephew Don and watching him in the weekly sunfish races. I have even had the pleasure of scuba diving in Sylvia Lake with my niece Roberta’s husband, Jim Yaeger. In recent years, my grandnieces and grandnephews have come to the lake to swim, canoe and enjoy the water. Like the lake, these things never change. (Sylvia Lake Legacy, 1807-2007, page vii)