The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

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Ontonagon cabin owners pass the torch to newcomers


October 30, 2018

Jan Tucker/Daily Globe

OWNERS OF the Hokans cabins since the 1930s reunited at the Ontonagon Rotary meeting Wednesday. From left are Dick and Marlene Lambert, Robert and Kim Miller, Sue Hokans, Wendy and Chuck Peterson.


Ontonagon - Edwin Hokans was a shop teacher at the Ontonagon School in the 1930s when he and his wife, Esther, decided to build a cabin on their property one and one-half miles outside of Ontonagon.

One cabin led to another and eventually a motel was added, with the complex known as Hokans Cabins and Motel.

Since that time, with its location on Lake Superior, the cabins have changed hands many times. All the owners since Edwin Hokans Sr. gathered at the Ontonagon Rotary Club Wednesday to welcome the latest owners, Robert and Kim Miller, of Jonesville and Hillsdale.

In the early days, Ed Hokans Jr. and his wife, Sue, were living in Oshkosh, Wis., and after some deliberation, returned to Ontonagon to help Ed Sr. with the operation.

Dick Lambert was a skier and he and his wife, Marlene, frequently came to the western U.P. to hit the different hills. They lived in the same area Ed Jr. had lived and Ed asked Dick if he had ever skied the Porkies. "I gave it a try and I loved it," Dick Lambert said.

The couple returned each winter and stayed at the Hokans' cabins. When Sue and Ed said they wanted to sell the cabins, Dick said his first thought was "then I could ski everyday." He came to Ontonagon in 1979 and although they had been in the area each winter, they had never seen it in the summer. They were blown away with that lake and the beauty of the area and the Lamberts became the next owners of the cabins in 1979 and bought the motel in 1987.

Wendy and Chuck Peterson had decided they wanted to buy some recreation property in the U.P. and toured several motels and cabins that were available, but not Lamberts'. At the last minute in 1997, they stopped at Lamberts. "As soon as I walked into the place, I said to Chuck, 'This is it.'" She said she just knew this was meant to be. They sold their home and became the next owners of the cabins.

Enter 2018 and the Petersons were ready to retire.

Robert Miller had recently retired from the Department of Corrections and his wife, Kim, retired as a legal secretary for 20 years. "We ran out of things to do and were looking for some real estate in the Upper Peninsula and the Silver City area," she said. They found what they wanted when they met the Petersons on Tuesday and signed the papers to purchase the cabins on Friday. That same day their house downstate sold. "It was like fate," Kim Miller said. They, too, were attracted by the big lake and the people of the area.

All the previous owners got together with the Rotary members Wednesday and exchanged memories of the little cabins that began as a project for a shop teacher and drew others to Lake Superior.


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