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Cherry Valley in Athol Township, where AWAY Bed & Breakfast is located, is noted for its natural beauty of shoreline and woodland areas.  It includes the picturesque Salmon Point and Point Petre where a 100 year old lighthouse still stands.  Nearby is Outlet Beach.  Legend has it the French hid a barrel of gold there which has yet to be found.  Sandbanks Provincial Park boasting the world’s largest fresh water sandbar and dune system is located less than 10 minutes away (oh yes we have timed it).

Original House before the renovationThe original homestead where AWAY Bed & Breakfast stands is on land originally purchased by Alva Stephens in 1822.  Mr. Stephen’s whose portrait graces a wall in the dining room of the current home is reputed to have given Cherry Valley its name based on the abundance of cherry trees in the area at the time.   Stephens was an early United Empire Loyalist who came to the area from Jefferson County in New York State sometime between 1812 and 1815 during the War of Defense.  He was a hatter by trade establishing three successful businesses at Stone Mills, now called Glenora.   His first venture was as a haberdasher where he made and sold hats, after which he erected a hotel in the same location and finally became the owner and operator for the ferry between Glenora and Adolphustown.   He married Hannah Walker and had 4 sons and three daughters.  Son Richard Stephens was prominent in Athol affairs and is said to have been the leading force in getting the township hall built.  The town hall still stands in the centre of the hamlet and is used today for events from square dances to strawberry socials to games nights and yoga classes.  Richard was a farmer specializing in hogs and fruit.  It is reported that there was at one time a large cherry orchard located on the property on the banks of East Lake.

Alva Stephens

Portrait of Alva Stephens which hangs in the diningroom at AWAY Bed & Breakfast.

Alva Stephens died at the age of 99 in 1882 and is buried in the Cherry Valley cemetery.  He was the founder of the Masonic Lodges in the district and was buried with full Masonic honours.

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