The Memories of John and Jane Fertig
contributed by Jane Fertig

How we heard about Milford House
John’s godfather Harold Haff was an original shareholder and was very instrumental in Fred Geier’s vision and plan. He was in Milford House the year we were married, 1967, and it caused us to move our wedding date by a week.

In 1968 he showed us photos/slides that he and Helen, his wife, had taken over the years. We fell in love with it, and when we heard the price, we decided we could go for a week the following year, 1969. We shared a cabin, Thomas, with a couple from Tennessee. The other couple never returned, but we did, 51 times!

Early Years
In the first years, either many cabins were still not open, or Bud deemed them too nice for the young wild couple from Tennessee. We were assigned cabins, each without showers, some without tubs, and all with brown tap water. Hot water definitely did not exist.

Bud Miller was a wonderful innkeeper. He took on every chore necessary to make the guests happy, and he strolled through the dining room sharing fish stories.

North and Little had not been acquired as yet. Buckshaw and Doeshaw were the original and in serious disrepair. At least two, or maybe three cabins were torn down in the early years.

We met John Hentz and his boys and the Foxes from the Washington DC area and Sam and Merloyd Lawrence. They were the young crowd.

Reggie Gillette called us ‘Trouble’ and ‘Whiskers’ and got us to do many chores. One chore was to help him clean up Gillette’s Beach because he loved Little Sandy and people like us intruded on his privacy. Thus, he started hauling sand in his canoe from Little to what is now Gillette’s Beach. He was furious that Linda Miller named it that.

One year, when Bill and Mary-Lou Connor could not be at Milford House, we were allowed to stay in their cabin, which is now known as Kingfisher. I remember it raining a lot, and we were glad for the fireplace. After that, we were in Fox for several years, and then in 1976, Little was opened, and Bud decided that would be our cabin.

We eventually got into Miller Cabin in 1980. We now had two kids, and Bud decided he would allow us down the cabin road!

There are so many:

-the morning view down the lakes with the mist rising off the water, the call of Loons, the peaceful view of the lake in the early evenings, sunsets at Lazy Man.

-watching our kids and now grandchildren play in the lakes and take little adventure hikes and paddles.

– renewing friendships each year.

It is a very tranquil feeling as soon as you pull into the driveway. Of course, the housekeeping and wait staff make the whole experience very carefree. A real vacation!

John and Dee Hentz
John was one of the first younger guests that we met when we first came to Milford House. I think he was glad to have us take the pressure off being one of the younger guests. Now there was someone else to cause trouble. We met the challenge! We met Dee several years later, and she was just so welcoming. She was kind and accepting of our young children, who were referred to by many of the regulars as noisy rug rats! 

Dee and John are synonymous with Milford House in our household.  We never knew John’s first wife, but Dee was so kind to our children and us. She was an essential part of the Milford House ambiance, almost like Madame Lafarge, always in the living room after meals guiding the conversation while needle pointing a pillow or plaque. She directed people to the latest craft or art experience throughout Nova Scotia. Always with her poodle, of which I believe there were several, but all ran together. She is all part of the many people who made Milford House what it is.

I got to know John well as we served on the board of directors together for several years, especially during the first fire. (Milford House was destroyed by fire twice).

The Fire
I had been on the road all day driving my son to college. I unloaded his possessions and returned home to get back to work the next day. The day consisted of about ten hours of driving. John (Fertig) greeted me with the devastating news that he received a phone call from John Hentz, saying that Milford House Lodge had burned to the ground. I collapsed in a chair and cried, trying to absorb the news.

The main house was aging. It was made entirely of wood without fire stops etc. Fortunately, our board was strong, and thanks to Greg Millert, who brought technology to the board, we rebuilt the Lodge via email.

John Hentz may have been the one person not connected with technology, but he bought a computer and got instruction on its use. With the help of technology, the community, and dedicated, generous guests, the second Lodge was built and opened the next season.

The original reproduction was so well-done that I found myself in the library when I excused myself from dinner to go to the restroom.

But those early days had not been easy. As board members, we were overwhelmed by the task ahead of us.  We were emotionally rocked to the core. I was proud to be a part of that board. We researched, gathered input, and were able to pull our plans together with many community tradespeople and supporters who put us first and completed the Lodge.


The Dining Room
So many traditions were restored. For example, the builders recreated The Wall. This seating along the windowed wall was reserved for the most established guests, with only two or three at a table. To younger guests, it became a dubious distinction when you were seated at The Wall. If you were seated along The Wall, you were old! 

The wall in the old dining room had only windows for ventilation. Families and larger groups were seated throughout other areas of the dining room

The curtains of the first dining room were replicated, giving the same old-fashioned atmosphere. By the way, John and I are now old, and rather like The Wall!

The sitting rooms were replicated, as was the library. Guests took up their places, and all seemed to be as it once was. Needless to say, no one could believe this could ever happen again, but it did.

The Best Part
The best part of Milford House is the people who work there and the guests who visit repeatedly or even just once. During our first years at Milford House, people were still renting rooms on the Main House’s second floor. (The main house is now known as the Lodge). And if you were in a cabin without a tub or shower, you could use the tubs on this second floor—most people bathed in the lakes.