Paradise By Accident
Contributed by Geoff Lawlor
Although in many ways, it feels like yesterday, it has been 47 years since I stumbled across a small piece of heaven known as Milford House.
At the time, I had been camping at Kejimkujik National Park located in nearby Maitland Bridge, Nova Scotia. Five straight days of rain began to take its toll on a self-proclaimed experienced camper.
On the morning of the sixth day and with no hope of sunshine, I packed up my wet gear and headed toward Annapolis Royal, searching for a laundry facility that would allow for an opportunity to dry out.
Tired and a wee bit soggy, I drove north on Route 8. I had only traveled a short distance when a sign indicated I was about to enter the community of South Milford. Soon I encountered a large white and green structure on the east side of the highway. A sign on the shoulder referred to this as Milford House. And so, a lifelong adventure began!
Discovering Milford House
Curious about this place that stood in the middle of nowhere, I pulled in, parked the car, walked up to the front door, and entered. The front door led to the original lodge, with the dining room running east and west along the north side. The reception area was to my left, and there stood a tall, lean man behind the counter. I was immediately greeted with a warm smile and a firm handshake. This first visit to Milford House was the beginning of many years of friendship with the iconic Bud Miller. I became close friends with Bud, his wife Margaret, and, over the years, their children as well.
I spent that night in Maples cabin, where the fireplace helped me with the drying process.
The next morning, following a hearty breakfast in the lodge, I thanked Bud for his hospitality and returned home, which in those days was Halifax.
At the time, I had no idea that the incredible experience would lead to almost 50 years of visits to Milford House. I will admit I recall feeling at that time the place was special.
Family and Cabins
Carol and I married in 1983 and honeymooned in Doeshaw. Our children, Kristen
and Kathleen, came along a few years later. As a family, we enjoy both summer and winter visits to Milford House. It seems as though the girls grew up in South Milford. We got to know every cabin. We eventually settled on Colonel, and for several years that was our go-to cabin.
Before one yearly visit, I received a call from Bud Miller, asking if we would consider moving to another cabin for our next visit. As Bud explained, this was to accommodate a request from another guest. We agreed, and based on his recommendation, we moved to Greene cabin. We fell in love with Greene and enjoyed 19 straight-years in our new go-to cabin. After a few years in Crowe, we moved to Lazyman, which just happened to be a favorite of Kathleen’s. To this day, Lazyman is our cabin of choice.
There are so many stories to share about our experiences with Bud and his family: the delivery of toilet tissue to the cabin, his gift of deer steak, which much to Margaret’s chagrin turned out to be calves liver, and four-and-a-half hours on the lake with Tilley retrieving the Boot Lake float, which had broken its mooring and ended up on Big Sandy.
I enjoy spending time in the main lodge sharing stories with other guests. As a family, we have always felt the dining room was an integral part of the Milford House experience. It is where guests gather following a busy day of canoeing, swimming, hiking, playing tennis, or a game of croquet. Guests were always interested in each other and their daily activities. We have been able to forge and maintain many friendships over the years as a result of these gatherings in the dining room.
Over the years, we have enjoyed our interactions with the staff and guests. Milford House has always attracted special people, whether it’s the wait staff, housekeepers, or managers.
To this day, we continue to enjoy the warmth and genuine dedication to guest services. To all past and present staff, thank you from the Lawlor family.
Milford House is a Feeling
If you have not visited Milford House, we encourage you to do so with your family and friends.
The Milford House experience leaves you with a feeling. To understand it is to feel it.
Infrastructure may have changed due to two structure fires in the past, but the people who contribute to the spirit of Milford House remain unchanged.
When you visit Milford House, be sure to ask *Charlie to explain, “Beergate.” It is just one of many stories waiting to be told.
*Charlie Richard is the Maintenance Manager who has cared for Milford House for nearly four decades. Stay tuned for his story.