Fishing families at Opinicon Resort on the Rideau Canal
[caption id="attachment_117" align="aligncenter" caption="The store and main lodge at the Opinicon Resort"][/caption] If you wanna hear great fishing tales just head to the Opinicon Resort on the Rideau Canal in eastern Ontario. This historic resort has been entertaining fishing families since the turn of the last century, but it began its life as the Chaffey residence circa 1837! Chaffey was one of the first lock masters on the Rideau Canal and the locks located directly across from the Opinicon Resort are named after him. The setting for Chaffey's Lock is one of the prettiest found on the Rideau Canal which stretches an impressive 202 km (125.5 miles) from Kingston, Ontario to Ottawa, Canada's capital city. The recreational canal is operated by Parks Canada and it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, the canal's 175th year of operation. Like most of the locks on the Rideau Canal, Chaffey's Lock is still hand-operated just as it was back in Lock Master Chaffey's time. We're just back from a visit to the Opinicon which occupies a huge point of land jutting out onto Opinicon Lake. Many US fishing families had already arrived for the opening day of Bass season (June 27/09). We met several of them at dinner in the Opinicon dining room. One couple from San Diego, California, told us that five generations of their family have fished here starting with a grandfather in 1919. It seems multi-generations of fishing families return here year after year and the bulk are from the US. The Opinicon first got its reputation for great fishing a century ago. Back then, it was a private fishing club for wealthy Ohio industrialists, including the grandfather who came from the Toledo area. The present day resort ownership goes back to 1921 and keeping with tradition, fishing families continue to be welcomed. A visit here is a trip back in time as we discovered at Check In. The resort office is right out of a 1940s photograph – old fishing photos adorn the rich patina'd walls. Sharon gave us a warm welcome when we arrived, checked us in, and then took us on a brief tour. She's married to the chef who has been cooking here for 26 years. In fact, all the staff we met are locals who have worked here for eons. Sherri, our wonderful breakfast waitress, has been serving guests for 30 years. 70 year old Lenny Pine has been a fishing guide here for 50 years and his bride, Irene, has worked at the resort for almost as long. We actually met a guy from Rochester, NY, in the dining room who has been coming to the resort for 38 years to fish with Lenny. [caption id="attachment_119" align="aligncenter" caption=""Indian Room" at the Opinicon Resort"][/caption] Since we were only at the resort for one night, we opted to stay in Suite A in the main lodge, which includes its own screened-in porch reminiscent of one I played in on rainy summer days long ago, so I immediately felt right at home. You can choose a private cottage tho, and on a walk around the grounds, we noted several even have their own fieldstone fireplaces. The main lodge also has a big living room and a fabulous library that was named the "Indian Room" way back when. It has log panelling and birch furniture, lots of old books and Indian Corn adorning one wall. At the Opinicon, they make sure you never go hungry. Good homecooked comfort food is what I would call it, or as one guest put it, 'country gourmet'. I can vouch for the homemade French bread and rhubarb pie. Both were outrageously good. The resort has American Plan which means your accommodation comes with three square meals a day. If you're out fishing you can order a shore lunch (just by chance you don't catch anything) or the kitchen will pack you a picnic, which is what we chose for lunch on day two. The picnic, like the dining room meals, was an astonishing amount of food, so we figure fishers like to be well fed. Our picnic included two sandwiches each, drinks, cheese, boiled eggs, potato chips, fruit and muffins. While we were at the resort we also discovered a neat way for travelers passing through the region to get a true canal experience. The Opinicon has teamed up with Rideau Canal Boat Tours to offer a half-day canal tour that includes lunch or dinner in the Opinicon's fab retro dining room. The 12-seat solar/electric powered boat (called Chuckles) hardly makes a sound as it cruises from Chaffey's Lock to the Jones Falls Locks and back. A picture perfect way to get to know this part of Canada for sure. The Opinicon Resort is open from mid-May to mid-October. Another Resorts of Ontario fishing lodge in the area is the Loughborough Inn on Loughborough Lake just north of Kingston. It's been attracting anglers and their families for close to a hundred years too.
[caption id="attachment_120" align="aligncenter" caption="The Loughborough Inn"][/caption]