Duck Lake, Calhoun County, Michigan is a beautiful lake with clear water and ample opportunities for boating, fishing and sailing.
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The Duck Lake Association is a Michigan non-profit lake association

Duck Lake School is unique in that its construction and operation were privately funded. Stephen Munroe (1813 - 1890), a local physician and logging magnate, had the school erected as a convenience for the children of his extended family and those of local residents. The nearest school was three miles away. The school closed in 1888. It reopened briefly in 1911 to accommodate children from a nearby storm-damaged school. Duck Lake School

The Duck Lake Outlet - by June Garfield

The outlet is located at the North end of Duck Lake, Clarence Township, Calhoun County and runs Northeast to Narrow Lake. Back in the 1940's there were many complaints about the high water level. Nearby muck farmers complained as did cottage owners. The store at the North end (Silver Beach) was located on the beach, between the road and the water. David "Bunk" Garfield, the store owner, had to have the building moved across the road as the water level continued to rise. In dry seasons, the outlet ditch was blocked by an old door, and pieces of timber. In wet seasons the door would be removed.

In 1944, the Calhoun County Board of Commissions asked the Court to determine the proper level at which Duck Lake should be maintained. Judge Blaine Hatch established the level at 929 feet. (Ed. Note: We believe this is 929 feet above sea level). Metal pilings were driven into the lake just above the outlet and the outlet (creek) was dredged.Old Duck Lake Dam 1956  (See the original dam above). A gauge was installed by the dam and "Bunk" was asked to record the level each day. He did this for quite a long time. In 1956, it was noted that the dam had been damaged by the pressure of winter ice, and the dam was repaired in 1957. Recently, the creek running Northeast from the outlet was dredged again. Below is a 2006 view of the outlet.  1957 Dam


Early Days at Duck Lake, by June Garfield (posted August 2007)

I have been thinking about the changes at Duck Lake during the past century. My husband, David A. Garfield Jr., (better known as "Bunk") was born in 1909. That year his parents built a cottage on what is now North Shore Drive. At that time there were only four or five cottages on this landing. There was a well and hand pump at the top of the hill, shared by the cottage owners.

The Garfields lived in Albion in the house that they purchased from Jesse Crowell. Later it was sold to the Albion College and eventually torn down. The girl’s dormitory was built on the site. Bunk’s father, David A Garfield Sr. and his mother Marian, had four children. In the spring, when it came time to move to the lake they would hire a team and a wagon to bring their things out for the summer. Mother Garfield cooked on a kerosene stove and had an old ice box. There was a store, boat office, and boat livery on the beach. Wm. H Leonard ran this operation. He was married to Betsy Munroe, one of the heirs of Doctor Stephen Munroe who built the historic schoolhouse. In later years the store was moved across the road, due to high water eroding the foundation. I still have Wm. Leonard’s National Cash Register with his name on the lid.

There was an ice house across the road from the beach. Each winter the ice was harvested from the lake when it became thick enough. Several men and a team of horses accomplished this job and big blocks were put in the top of the ice house and covered with sawdust and marsh hay. Years later, when Bunk and I operated the store, I remember Bunk putting the ladder to the top door, cutting off what he hoped was 25 pounds, or 50 pounds, carrying the ice down the ladder, carrying the ice with tongs to the lake, rinsing it off and putting it on the running board of the customer’s car. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll bet Bill Leonard delivered ice. I read one of his ads saying his wagon would be delivering groceries.


News about Duck Lake in the 1890s, from the Springport Signal. These were given to June Garfield by Helen Hyatt.

November 24, 1893 – A new store has been opened at the foot of Duck Lake with Monroe and Andrews as proprietors.

February 23, 1894 – Oren Andrews is Duck Lake postmaster.

June 29, 1894 – Elmer Miller, who is working for Jim Monroe, went with others, last Sunday, bathing and was taken with cramps. Had it not been for the others, he would have surely drowned, as he was unable to save himself.

July 13, 1894 – Mr. and Mrs. William Leonard have moved a part of their goods back to the lake and are living in the little school house.

July 27, 1894 – Duck Lake is getting quite noted as a resort, it is reported that boats were so thick on the lake Sunday that it was almost impossible to pass without side tracking. Ad – Monroe and Andrews Duck Lake general store. Dry goods, notions, boots, shoes, groceries, sporting goods, candy, tobacco and cigars. Also, Oliver chilled plow. Special attention given to ordering goods not in stock. Our wagon will be on the road five days each week, to take your butter and eggs for which we always pay the highest market price. When at lake give us a call.

July 27, 1894 – Ad – Mr. Wm. Leonard, who has charge of the camping ground at the North end of Duck Lake, is equipped to handle his many visitors in the best of style this season. Among the many improvements is an excellent outfit of boats. He has accommodation for 60 horses and carriages, in case of a storm. He carries a fine line of fishing tackle and bait in season. Meals on short notice and soft drinks, candy, nuts, cigars, tobacco and cigarettes at the stand. Where can you spend a more pleasant day than at this popular resort? The campgrounds are free and no exorbitant rates are charged. Remember the place, the North end of Duck Lake. William H. Leonard, proprietor.

August 24, 1894 – The grounds at the North of Duck Lake look like and Indian village, so many tents scattered around. There are campers form Albion and Springport and with the coming and going it makes things lively over there.