There is a place that everyone should visit. It's called the Dyer Memorial and is found just outside Huntsville, a captivating town in Muskoka. The Memorial is not difficult to locate; almost anyone from Huntsville can direct you. When in Huntsville, drive north along the main road (Highway 11B) to Williamsport Road. On Williamsport Road, the Memorial is eight kilometers into the woodland. Watch for signs pinned to the trees at the intersections leading to the Memorial.
Dyer Memorial is a stone monument reaching toward the heavens, at the top of which rest the cremated remains of two remarkable people. Clifton Dyer, a successful lawyer from Detroit in the United States, erected the structure as final resting place for his wife Betsy Brown.
Clifton and Betsy Brown spent their honeymoon in Muskoka in 1916. They returned twenty years later and from that time they enjoyed their remaining summers sheltered in a small cabin on the side of towering banks of the East River. The cabin is gone but the woodland retains the charisma of years past.
In winter, Clifon and Betsy would return to their summer home in the Muskoka forest by horse and sled. They loved to ski on the hills near where the monument now stands. While they were skiing, whenever they separated, Betsy always called out for Clifton to join her as she dreaded not being next to him.
Betsy died in 1956, almost forty years after her marriage to Clifton. Clifton immediately commissioned the construction of the Memorial as the final resting place for her ashes. He was steadfast in his desire that Betsy would never leave this land of wonder she had loved so dearly. It took one year to complete construction of the monument. Betsy's ashes were then encased in a stonewall near the peak of the Memorial overlooking the careless East River slumbering in the valley below. Betsy was alone for the first time in forty years and Clifton could not come when she called out to him.
The grounds surrounding the monument required two more years of clearance and landscaping before completion. (Progress was sporadic during winters.) Clifton died in 1959, three years after Betsy's death. His cremated ashes were placed within the monument next to his wife's ashes. Betsy would never be alone again.
To arrive at the monument you must journey up seventy-three flagstone steps leading to magnificently landscaped grounds, flowerbeds, streams and ponds.
In autumn, the fall colours in the forest are brilliant and glorious. Only those who have been there can imagine the beauty of that marvelous woodland in Muskoka.
Numerous pathways and trails meander throughout the manicured grounds and gardens. The Memorial is situated in the center of a park-like field and encircled by representation of the four elements understood by the original peoples of this land.
The "elements" are Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. When facing the front of the Memorial, the ponds to the left symbolize "Water." "Earth" is represented by the gardens to the right, and the stone steps leading up to the monument epitomize "Fire." Behind the Memorial tall pine trees compete with each other in their upward pursuit. While walking in the midst of the trees, listen to the "Wind" as it whispers to you from the boughs above. Sometimes, if you listen closely, you can hear Betsy calling out Clifton's name...calling for him to join her.
Venture to this magnificent sacred place in the forest. Hurry! Floyd Bartlett, a resident of Huntsville, has devoted over a quarter of a century of his life to conserving and protecting the splendor of this sacred site. You might find him watering the grassy fields or weeding the blossoming gardens. Seek him out and chat with him. He's seventy-nine years of age but has the zeal of youth. In the near future there is the possibility that arthritis will force his departure from Dyer Memorial. If so, one can only hope that this wonderful place will not fall into neglect and disrepair.
Plan to linger in this sacred place in Muskoka. You will acquire inner strength, a feeling of peace and a grasp of the mission we pursue insofar that a truly meaningful life is one that is shared with a loved one. At the base of the Memorial is the inscription:
"ERECTED IN FOND MEMORY OF BETSY BROWN DYER
1884 - 1956
BY HER HUSBAND
CLIFTON G. DYER
1885 - 1959
AS A PERMANENT TRIBUTE TO HER FOR THE NEVER-FAILING
AID, ENCOURAGEMENT AND INSPIRATION WHICH SHE
CONTRIBUTED TO THEIR MARRIED CAREER AND AS A
FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR THEIR ASHES.
"An Affectionate, Loyal, and Understanding Wife is Life's Greatest Gift."
The way to the Memorial is easily accessed but there is the risk of its gradual seclusion as the forest strives to claim this sacred ground as its own by repossession of the road leading to it.
Clifton Dyer and Besty Brown are together forever in that beautiful corner of earth called Muskoka.