It's a fascinating pre WW2 story of a shoe maker who saw the writing on the wall as Hitler's influence was taking over Europe. He decided to move his entire factory and 120 employees to Canada to start what would become the world's largest shoe empire. In a brave move, Thomas J. Bata built the village of Batawa (named after Bata and Ottawa) just south of Frankford, which would supply every need of his company families.
Unbeknownst to many, Thomas Bata and his wife, Sonja, along with their executives and families, vacationed on "Birch Island" in Crowe Lake, Marmora, where their managing director, Mr. Herz, had bought three cottages all in the same style with rooms off a central grand room, containing the stone fireplace. The most southerly cottage housed the "boat boys" and probably a gardener.
According to Wilma Bush in Marmora, many of the employees also enjoyed the lake.
"Growing up on a farm on Marble Point Rd., Marmora Twp., we had the marvelous opportunity of meeting many Czechs from Batawa. The Daicars had a cottage just up the road from us & Mrs. Daicar had many visits with our Mother (we loved her accent). Each summer picnics were held onthe lawn of Tipperary House, across road from us, by Czechs in Batawa. Lots of music & laughter - we were always welcome to join them - a lot of happy memories of these people!"
John Fielding wrote a tribute the company and its families, and in particular to Tony Daicar, who arrived in Batawa from Czechoslovakia as a 7 yr. old, but spent leisure time on Crowe Lake throughout his life.
CLICK HERE TO READ THIS INSPIRING STORY OF CANADIAN INDUSTRIAL HISTORY, THE BATA SHOE EMPIRE AND THE COMPANY FAMILIES. (Kingston Whig May 3, 2016)
Evidently a "master craftsman" from Cleveland was the supervisor for the building of the cottagesand they made the furniture at the same time, according to a present owner. Mr. Herzhad barges on the lake which made it possible to supply the cottages. The most southerly cottage had previously been owned by the 'Moons', and appropriately called their cottage "Lunar Bay".
Ronald Barrons wrote to say: I've never read anything about Thomas Bata that I didn't find wonderful and fascinating. And so it was just now in reading all this 'new' stuff offered here, fascinating as always. Photo from my mother-in-laws collection who worked there in the 1940's.
Annmarie Willman-Spry Dad (Pat Willman) always bought/sold shoes & shoemaking materials from Bata for his shoe shops due to the fact that he was a HastyP & wanted to support the Batas for their efforts during the war.