The Tenacity of Temple- from Dutch’s to Tippy Canoe

December 31, 2019

The Temple Grocery, 1925
Welcome to the Tippy Canoe Bar and Grill

by Julie Traynor

Hidden away in the northeast corner of Clare County’s Redding Twp. is the quiet little Muskegon River community of Temple, Michigan.

With a Post Office established in 1887, and the coming of the Ann Arbor Railroad, Campbell City, named for benefactor Mary Campbell, was officially platted in 1889. This stop along the railroad fast became a lumbering and manufacturing town because of its close proximity to cedar and white pine and the river. Lincoln and Second Streets in Campbell City was the western terminus of the Lake George and Muskegon River Railroad, the first logging railroad in the world. The 1890’s were boom times for, now known as Temple. By the 1910’s the woods played out and so did most of the stave, hoop and shingle mills and half of the population.

Before 1925, Temple was known as the place to go to ‘wet your whistle’, just across the county line from the “dry” counties on up the tracks. Folks stopped for one last wet stop when traveling north. Many rode down the line from the nearby dry towns of Marion, Park Lake and McBain to do the same. By 1927, Clare County was also dry and Prohibition was not far off. Temple became an even smaller stop along the railroad.

The extension of M-61 from Harrison to Marion and beyond brought Temple a busy state highway and travelers seeking an early version of Pure Michigan.

The Great Depression of the 1930’s also brought Camp Temple, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) with the building of Camp Temple, just north-west of town near the river. The Corps members worked on to improve the poor dirt roads and replanted vast areas in this deforested corner of the county. Now, nearly one hundred years later, these many vast tracts of red pine are reaching maturity and harvest.

For years the community of Temple was home to two schoolhouses, a church, the Redding Township Hall and two grocery stores, one home to the post office. The train stopped daily with passengers until 1950.

In 1938 petroleum exploration hit the area in a big way. The Pure Oil Corporation established a forty-acre camp on the north side of the highway, just east of Temple. The oil boom brought an influx of Pure Oil employees, oil field workers and their families and great deal of activity to the area. Pure supplied housing at its campsite. Temple was booming again.

Along the highway, just west of Pure Oil’s entrance, a small lunch counter and bar business sprung up. Much like the Blue Goose, just south of Temple, it began life in a former train car, brought in for that purpose. The latest no frills watering hole, in what was once a town known for saloons, was Dutch’s Tavern, serving up hamburgers, chili and beer.

Five or six of the twenty-seven wells drilled by Pure Oil struck oil. Other gas and oil companies moved into the area and the installation of Clare County’s vast web of natural gas pipelines began. Dutch’s Tavern was the gathering place for oil field workers, who could grab lunch and a beer any time.

By the mid 1950’s, their job done, the vast majority of oil field workers moved on and life in Temple once again slowed.

Change came slowly to Temple. Dutch’s became Club 61 and was under the longtime ownership of the late ‘Buster’ Johnson. Anna Crawford’s store near the old depot was the only remaining grocery store in town. It also housed the post office and Anna was the postmaster. The wooden church structure was sold and moved out of town to become a residence. The congregation of the Church of the Nazarene built and dedicated a new structure in the early 1960’s. Redding Twp. schools consolidated with the Marion School system by 1964. Summer cabins sprung up around Temple.

In 1970 the state highway department rerouted sections of M-61 between Harrison and M-115. This highway update bypassed Temple proper by a few blocks, bisecting the former Pure Oil Camp site and disrupting a number of summer resort cabins.

Even though it was by-passed by the highway relocation, Club 61 remained the popular, friendly neighborhood bar kind of place it had become. Bus Johnson and his employees really did know your name.

With a change in the highway came a change in ownership. Buster sold Club 61 to Jake Blackledge, and eventually to son Jay. Between them they operated Blackledge’s Club 61 for more than thirty years. Jay and Bev sold the family business in the early 2000’s. That sale was the first of several in the past few years.

New owners Lou and Kathy Shreiner gave a nod to the nearby mighty Muskegon River and its recreational role in the area when they purchased the venerable Temple bar in November, renaming it the Tippy Canoe Bar and Grill. They join Duggan’s Canoes and Campgrounds, and the Temple Store in welcoming visitors to the river and woods alike. The seemingly endless trails across the Jack pine woods and the nearby river remain a popular draw for trail bikers and canoeists alike. Temple is also a popular warm-up stop for snowmobilers.

The Shreiner’s, who came to Temple from Grayling, have made a number of refreshing changes to the menu as well as the décor. Fish is gone, and Lou and Kathy suggest giving Tippy Canoe’s Temple Chicken Wings a try. Plump, meaty and served up with your choice of sauces. Special Recipe Temple Hot Sauce sets them apart. Give them a try on Friday night or anytime. The new menu also includes a daily lunch special, new pizza options and coming soon, breakfast on weekends. Keno and Lotto are available and weekly karaoke and live bands are in the works. Weekly euchre tourneys will help pass the winter.

he Shreiner’s invite all to stop by the Tippy Canoe for the New Year’s Eve celebration, December 31, 2019, beginning at 8pm. There will be party favors, great food and much more. The band Bad Decisions will play in the New Year and breakfast is served beginning at midnight. Check out the new stools and Lou’s incredible handcrafted, one of-a-kind tables. Both are receiving high marks.

In the tradition of the friendly neighborhood tavern, a smiling faces always await you at Tippy Canoe Bar and Grill, located at 501 E. Davis Street, just off the highway, Temple, Michigan.

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