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Morrison Irwin started Selrite Department Store in Wallaceburg in 1926. It eventually was named "Mirwin's" and grew to see other branches open in nearby communities. He was successful enough to be able to start a pleasure ground in 1934 near Lake St. Clair on the Chenal Ecarte River by the junction of the Johnston Channel. Picnics, and boating and swimming were the first attractions, but later were expanded to include others.
Within a year or two, boating was so popular that the Chamber of Commerce wanted to use it to draw outsiders to their area. Morrison took advantage of his nearby park's river location and brought it to new heights by building cabins for week-long and seasonal tourists, a hotel with a dining room, more picnic areas, a baseball field with several diamonds, and a bicycle racing track. Boaters would have good reasons to tie up at Mirwin Park - especially since a new concrete breakwall was installed. There were so many new arrivals that both Wallaceburg and Mirwin Park profited.
Eventually a large swimming pool with a diving tower was constructed at the park, although it's unclear if the tower was for the pool or overhung the river. It apparently had at least three levels. Also mentioned from one source as being at the park are a dance hall and ferris wheel.
Things went well until the Tip Sebe Hotel burned in 1942. It's not known if this was the original hotel on the site or not, but apparently it was never rebuilt and the park went into decline. Four years later, The Blue Water Bible Conference took over the area. It eventually became Shiloh Park.
No information surfaced about Morrison Irwin after the park closed, but there was a business in Wallaceburg called "Hotel Mirwin", so presumably he continued on in some fashion afterward. A photo of the hotel in the 1950s is shown at the right.
After the demise of Mirwin Park, Wallaceburg took the cue to steer boaters back to their area. For the next few decades arrivals were high. The Chamber of Commerce held ceremonies and presentations at the start of each season while local retailers promoted their wares and services to the visitors. Better boating facilities were built to handle the demand along with on-shore attractions such as a picnic area, swimming pool and a playground.
Eventually though, more competition opened up around the Great Lakes. Plus, with bigger, more powerful boats that were essentially homes away from home, patrons went farther afield. In order to compete, Wallaceburg would have to spend a lot of money to install water and power hookups, and in addition, repair or replace deteriorating infrastructure. This never happened so by the late 1970s or early 1980s, it too declined down to just a few special events each season.
Thanks to Jim Abbate of Chicago, U.S.A. for suggesting this park and providing initial information.
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