Ontario's Hidden Gems Exposed - Elmhirst's Resort

Ontario's Hidden Gems Exposed - Elmhirst's Resort

The Kawartha Lakes region is mainly comprised of vast fields and rural settings.  It hard to believe when you’re driving on roads that are mostly accompanied by fields and fields of farm land and a lot of lakes and inlets not too far from you.  That seems like the perfect getaway recipe, quiet secluded lakes, fresh fresh fresh farm to table foods and waterfront resort settings that allow you to explore Ontario’s true beauty by land, water and even air!   

We begin our adventure today at a mulit-generational family owned Cottage Resort property situated on the shores of Rice Lake.  Not only are there cottages and lots of waterfront activities, they have a large farm where they raise their own animals to provide healthy, good quality foods that are out of this world!

Aerial Image of the resort   

The family legacy of Elmhirst’s Resort dates back to 1818 when King George IV granted to Phillip James Elmhirst, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, 1,000 acres of Crown Land on the shores of Rice Lake as a reward for his efforts against Napoleon in the Battle of Trafalgar.  Frank Elmhirst acquired a new property, originally known as “The Walker Farm” on the edge of Rice Lake in 1903. This land added 340 acres with 1.6 kilometers of scenic shoreline. It is the site of the resort today. With panoramic views overlooking many islands, the location continues to be a perfect vacation destination for guests. Frank augmented his farm income by constructing small cabins renting them to visiting fishermen anxious to take advantage of the lake’s reputation as an angler’s paradise.  The story continues with his son Arthur Elmhirst. When he returned from serving as a pilot in WWII, Arthur took over the property and replaced the cabins with cottages. From here, the resort became a full time occupation for he and his wife Mary Belle, along with their children Peter and Ruth. After graduating from Ryerson’s Hotel and Resort Administration program in 1965, Peter returned home to devote his attention to building the business with his family,  which they purchased from his father. In 1968, the resort opened year round. Peter, Anne Marshall, Greg and Steven are still very involved in the Resort.  Today their son, Greg Elmhirst, also a Ryerson alumnus, is at the helm. His wife Martina operates the Spa@Elmhirst and his brother Steve oversees maintenance and facilitates beautiful weddings. Three generations live on site, and all family members are active in delivering an outstanding experience for guests.

An old image of the resort when it began

Elmhirst’s Resort is an all season, cottage resort and conference facility, offering spa services, excellent dining and a host of activities for the whole family. It is managed by a fifth generation of Elmhirst family and continues to offer the very best of the Kawarthas — much of it grown there, raised there or sourced from their very own 240 acre property!  Throughout the resort and farm they have implemented many initiatives to support the tenets of sustainability.  Some of those sustainability efforts include;

- A photo-voltaic solar panel system on the roof and tracking systems at the farm produce energy for the grid

- All public spaces, shops, laundry, and the indoor and outdoor pools are heated with bio mass, which is the equivalent to heating twenty family bungalows

- Non-invasive dockage system to prevent damage to the natural lake bottom and fish spawning areas

- Their onsite sawmill and woodworking shop produce building materials used on the property.

- The Elmhirst’s Own branding on some foods means they are produced on the property

And so much more.  Read the full list here 

Elmhirst’s Resort features over 30 cottages ranging from a 1 to 5 bedroom options.  All of the cottages have the luxuries of home with a modern twist but still give you that cottage getaway feel.  Each of the cottages are right on the water and feature a private dock, lakefront deck, BBQ, fireplace, equipped kitchen and full washrooms.  

Image of the inside of a cottage

On the 240 acre property, they have a farm where you can get up close and personal and meet the animals.  Not only do you have a chance to see the animals, you can get in the chicken coop, feed the chickens, collect the fresh eggs, that will be used for the dishes created in the kitchen!  Don’t forget to meet Albert and his team of magnificent Clydesdales!  They offer rides year around at regularly scheduled times. 

Image of horses

There are tons of other great activities to do at Elmhirst’s mainly with the emphasis placed on environmental-friendly sports (bicycles, canoes, kayaks, water bicycles, kite boarding, walking).  So many extraordinary opportunities to discover the best of Ontario outdoors. Plus you can get some much needed r&r as your family will be entertained by a giant floating playground with a series of inflatable slides and tubes that will keep your kids and the big kid wet and happy for at least a chapter or two of your novel you’ve been wanting to read for months. There’s also a dry option play set for those with tots. For the explorers who want to learn more about the area, take to the sky and book a sightseeing tour by floatplane!

Image of a family in the pool

New this year is the ‘escape the outdoor maze’ – an experiential game based on the history of the local area and the resorts’ beginnings.  Immerse yourself in the history as you solve clues to make your way through this outdoor adventure game on the Elmhirst Resort Property. Approx. duration – 1 hour.  More details on it can be found here 

Image of maze game

Elmhirst’s Resort feature two onsite restaurants (Hearthside Dining Room and Wild Blue Yonder Pub and Patio), proudly serving locally sourced or farm raised food and drink.  The resort is also a large working farm with animals raised and produce grown on site. These foods, known as Elmhirst’s Own, are solely for consumption by their kitchen. They also maintain partnerships with local suppliers to round out their menu offerings and reflect their commitment to sustainability.  Take a tour when visiting and keep an eye for:

Angus Beef, turkeys and Pekin ducks

Fiddleheads featured on our spring menu

Greenhouse herbs available year round

Harvested vegetables featured seasonally


Image of a plate of chicken

In front of the main building, their underground wine cellar represents a trip back to 1951 and the foundation of the building that once housed the original Elmhirst Store. Walk down the steps, through the heavy wooden door and behold their collection of Ontario and Canadian vintages that line the walls. The picturesque cellar also provides a wonderful backdrop for wedding celebrations and anniversaries.

Image of wine cellar

Elmhirst’s Resort is perfect for any season.  Lot’s to see and do, you’re going to want to make plans to come each season or stop by for dinner to try the seasonal menus! 

More Hidden Gems Exposed

Golden Beach Resort is family owned and operated since 1948.  This all-season resort is located on the sunny south shore of Rice Lake, about an hour and a half east of Toronto.  This family fishing resort has an on-site restaurant, children's programs, phenomenal recreation facilities, 16km hiking trail, canoe, kayak and other watersport rentals, sandy beach and so much more!  

Scotsman Point Beach Resort is a three-season family owned and operated resort, showcasing 25 cottages on a protected 12-acre point on the north shore of beautiful Upper Buckhorn Lake.  Great fishing, fantastic children's programs, lakefront cottages and more!  

Clearview Cottage Resort is a famous summer destination located on Stoney Lake in the heart of the Kawarthas.  This seasonal resort has been family owned and operated for over 54 years.  Not only do they offer great fishing, you can explore the sandy beach, waterpark playground, shuffleboard, free summer water ski program and so much more! Get away for an unforgettable time with family and friends!