A Family Business
Hillside has been owned and operated by the Ducker Family since 1963. Everyday management and staff are asked, “How are you related?” So here’s the who’s who to Hillside along with lots of neat information that we are very proud to share.
It all began in 1963 with the vision of Jack and Tonny Ducker. When they bought the park it had only 7 hydro sites and 25 non hydro sites. Through hard work, a lot of sweat and a few tears, Jack and Tonny, formerly from Maastricht, Holland, along with their 4 children; Yvonne, Edith, Sue and Harry, cleared the land and trees, cut the trees to supply firewood for the campers, and built many, many picnic tables. All the while Jack still worked in a real estate business in Cambridge (Preston).
Tonny and the kids would spend the spring, summer and fall working at the park, staying in their volkswagon van and a tent. Ken Townes (Edith’s boyfriend) came along in 1965 and added a welcome set of hands to the growing operation. Families could come to swim free of charge, or choose to camp for only $1.00 a night. As is the tradition still today, Jack and his family built everything themselves, washrooms with running water was first on their list, along with renovating the existing store and front gate. In time they added a home, along with apartment for the newly married Ken & Edith. Also attached to this structure was a hall for the campers to use, below the hall was the garage, where the existing store and office is now.
The original entrance to Hillside was directly off Spragues Rd. (Regional Road 75/HWY 24A). The entrance was eventually moved from HWY 24A to it’s existing location off of Brant Waterloo Rd.
In 1979 Harry met his future wife, a seasonal camper named June. Together with Jack, Tonny, Ken and Edith the 6 continued to improve and expand upon what the Ducker Family had started. Under their guidance, determination and years of dedication, Hillside Lake Park Family Campground came into existence.
The land parcel almost fully undeveloped.
Access to our spring fed lake opened up for all to enjoy.
With a new front entrance location and banquet hall & pavilion facilities.
Tonny and Jack Ducker
June and Harry Ducker with Edith and Ken Townes
The old park entrace off Spragues / Hwy 24A
The beach back when there were 2 diving boards!
A shot of the banquet hall from across the lake.
An old camping sticker designed by Jack
Well before “glamping” was a thing!
The next generation!
When Jack and Tonny retired, the management of the Park was passed to the second generation of the family, Edith and her husband Ken and Harry and his wife June. Together they worked and watched Hillside continue to grow as did their own children and families.
Seasons came and went and families did the same. Many staying for +10 years, calling Hillside their home away from home. Together Ken and Edee had 4 children, Heidi, Ron, Jeff and Ian. Harry and June had 2 sons; Hans and Jack. What we find a testament to our park is that children that Heidi, Ron, Jeff, Ian, Hans and Jack played with when they were growing up at Hillside have come back to Hillside with trailers and families of their own and they’ve chosen Hillside as their vacation place to make wonderful memories for their families.
Hillside continued to grow adding 25 permanent year round Mobile Home sites in the late 80’s. Taking this seasonal campground that was once only open May to October to a year round Mobile Home Park and community. Another and final expansion in 2009 had 23-10 month sites added consisting of all-season Northlander park models. Hillside, now at it’s max was running strong with an active Recreation Committee, working hand in hand with management providing many activities for all ages of campers. Camping as with everything kept evolving, especially with the introduction of the internet and ‘Wi-Fi’ this and ‘Facebook’ that. At Hillside while we have added things like internet and Facebook to our company, we’ve also taken a back to basics approach for a lot of our activities and events.
As time passed and our family grew up, this also meant that our elders aged, and sadly we had to say goodbye to Ken (2009), Jack (2013) and then finally Tonny (2015) leaving no one left in the first generation of Hillside owners. But that is where we draw our strength, for in everything we do to make Hillside just a little bit better we have the satisfaction of knowing that we are continuing the vision of Jack, Tonny and our parents.Proud to say we’ve been in business for over 53 years, proud to open our doors every season to all the campers coming back to Hillside for another great season, proud to have celebrated with our volunteers every year and to see them reaching milestones of volunteering for not only 5, 10 but 15 and yes even 25 years!
Now to present day … this is where it might start to get a little confusing … there’s just so many of us (not really, but that’s what people tell us!)
Today at Hillside you’ll find the second, third and YES 4th generations working together to manage and maintain the Park.
The old beach and lesser developed hillside in the background.