History

When Pastor Marvyn Dubrick answered the call to St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Chesley, ON, he came with a vision of a place where both the able-bodied and the handicapped could enrich and develop their bodies, minds, and spirits in a Christian community away from the stresses and tensions of everyday life. After sharing this vision with Pastor Lloyd Wiseman of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Owen Sound and some other pastors in the area, there was a search for an appropriate site for such a centre.

In the fall of 1973, an abandoned farm with upwards of three-quarters of a mile frontage on two of the picturesque Robson Lakes came on the market. The lakes had areas of solid sand and gravel beach with plenty of gravel on the property to build up more of the same. The deep water supported good pike and bass fishing with good brook trout in the stretch of river running through the property. Parts of the farm were rugged and rolling with areas of Scotch pine and bush land populated with sugar maples. About 10 acres were arable with two fields recently seeded.

The 2-story white brick house on a hill overlooking the lake would provide a suitable home for Ranch managers and eventually a store. The large barn had the potential for many uses, presently housing a well-fitted workshop and storage for Ranch equipment and members' seasonal needs.

The pastors commenced a marketing campaign in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Grey County areas culminating in the adoption of articles and by-laws for a proposed constitution at a meeting on September 30, 1973. On February 7, 1974 the Georgian Bay Lutheran Cluster became the proud owner of 341 rolling acres known today as LutheRanch.

At the same time, the group met with members of the Ontario Federation for the Cerebral Palsied who were in the early stages of planning a summer camping facility designed to serve the handicapped. It was generally agreed that a facility that would serve them well for the four summer months would also serve the GBLC and the church as a retreat and conference centre during spring, fall, and winter. This facility went on to develop its program and become Participation Lodge which opened its doors in 1983 and continues to offer numerous year-round services required in the Grey/Bruce area, remaining the best of neighbours to this day.

Over the next years, pastors, lay-people, and members of LutheRanch pitched in to develop the roads, paved walkways for wheelchairs, weeping beds and infrastructure. The existing buildings were repaired, washrooms and picnic shelter built. Trees were planted, mini-golf, playground, baseball diamond, volleyball court, shuffleboard, horseshoe pit, and basketball pad developed. Thanks to the expertise and sweat of the many volunteers–past and present, LutheRanch developed over the next 38 years into a beautiful caring community for people of all faiths – a dream made a reality – a place to grow – a home away from home.