In troubled times, we naturally turn to family, friends and the familiar. We all find solace in rituals and traditions, such as structure and routine, faith-based activities, sharing meals together, lighting a fireplace or candles, and music. And, of course, let us not forget the annual family vacation.
Cherished traditions evolve slowly over time and generations. There is a reason we intentionally maintain and create traditions. They bring meaning to our celebrations and help bond us to those we love. They nurture the family connection, give us a sense of belonging and help us celebrate generations of family. More importantly, traditions create positive memories for children, giving them both roots and wings. Observing and preserving tradition, and teaching it to our children, grounds us all in an ongoing project that lasts far beyond our time on Earth.
Traditions are the bedrock upon which many Resorts of Ontario lodgings were built. Laughter and fond memories shared by families and friends are the mortar in a resort’s foundation. And the simplest moments are often the most memorable.
For some guests, the traditional annual vacation means booking the same room or cottage at the same resort at the same time every year to meet up with other families they’ve befriended over the years. It’s a beautiful tradition that repeats itself year after year at Resorts of Ontario properties—some of which have been hosting generations of families for more than 100 years.
Such longevity requires dedication toward a cherished tradition or purpose in spite of hardships. Many longstanding resorts have withstood the test of time as they shepherded the rural hospitality industry through the Spanish Flu, two World Wars, the Great Depression and numerous threats and recessions.
100+ YEARS OF TRADITION
In Muskoka, Severn Lodge has presided as a premier seasonal family resort for more than a century in the magnificent beauty and serenity of the Georgian Bay lake district, first as a family vacation retreat for a wealthy social club from Pittsburgh in the 1870s, then as a public resort when it was sold in the 1920s. Nestled on the shores of Sparrow Lake just past Orillia, Bayview Wildwood Resort has proudly delivered Stanton family hospitality since 1898. Nearby, the Fern Resort, lovingly known as “The Home of Rolls & Honey,” has enjoyed a long and varied history from its first owner, the warm, hospitable Mrs. McBain who always made room for visitors at her table in the late 1800s, to the present-day Downing family, who continues the tradition of serving homemade rolls and honey from the same apiary used by their ancestors and founders, Jim & Mimi Pettapiece. Port Cunnington Lodge has been creating unforgettable memories in Muskoka’s spectacular setting since 1890.
In operation since 1896, Deerhurst Resort was overseen by three generations of the Waterhouse family until 1989 when it was sold and expanded into the world-class community it is today. And, for those who seek a much simpler lifestyle experiences, the YMCA Geneva Park on beautiful Lake Couchiching has been building healthy communities and inspiring character development for people of all ages for more than a century.
In the Kawarthas, 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.
Visitors to the circa-1921 Loughborough Inn in Battersea are welcome to relax in seven stunning log cabins and explore the scenic countryside. Isaiah and Rhoda Tubbs’ foray into hospitality as host and hostess to weddings in 1844 has evolved under the guardianship of their descendants into the beautiful and tranquil Isaiah Tubbs Resort & Conference Centre on West Lake. In operation since 1920, the family-oriented Scotsman Point Cottage Resort continues the tradition of helping families and friends create memories that last a lifetime, whether it’s about relaxing by Upper Buckhorn Lake, fishing for a muskie, pickerel or bass or the simple pleasure of enjoying the crackle of an evening campfire. On Cache Lake in Algonquin Park, the classic Bartlett Lodge, accessible only by “freighter canoe,” has been introducing guests to a delicate ecosystem since 1917. A 10-minute drive away from the park, four generations of the Tapley family have owned and operated the Bondi Village Resort since 1905, offering a friendly, informal atmosphere in a natural waterfront environment where housekeeping cottages preserve the family heritage, which includes a large organic garden and free-range hens.
In the Haliburton Highlands, you’ll find the legendary adult retreat known as Sir Sam’s Inn & Spa, once the estate (circa 1920) of Sir Samuel Hughes, the decorated government minister who led Canada’s military through the first World War. In the York Durham Headwaters region, The Briars, which began life as a Regency Manor house built in 1840 by British Navy Captain William Bourchier, has evolved under the meticulous stewardship of five generations of the Sibbald family into the classy country destination it is today.
A local landmark in Oxford County since 1872 and birthplace of the Canadian commercial cheese industry, the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa has become the perfect home away from home for visitors wishing to explore the natural, beauty, arts, history and culture of Southwestern Ontario.
Whether your family vacation traditions include long walks in nature, friendly fishing, golfing, tennis or beach volleyball tournaments, paddling a canoe on a mist-covered lake, relaxing in a lakeside chair, lounging in a hot spring or pool, enjoying spa treatments or roasting marshmallows over a crackling campfire at sunset, there is a Resorts of Ontario property waiting to welcome and introduce you to its heritage and time-honoured traditions.
As Resorts of Ontario owners, we continue to do what we do so well—lead the way in an industry born to serve you and your loved ones. And just like the changing seasons, we adapt. We are leaving no stone unturned as we tend to our own “fields of dreams” and create new and better ways to enhance your next stay with us once these challenging times are behind us.