AN INSPIRED GETAWAY
IN THE KAWARTHAS
by Margaret Swaine
Columnist & Author
View from the Cabin
Inspire Beach Resort Cabin
Kitchen in the 'Beach' Cabin
Beef Tartar at
Rockcliffe Moore Falls
There’s a lot to like about a simple road trip a few hours from home. No airport hassles, no need to pack carefully and no time change. When my husband and I pulled into Inspire Beach Resort, an adult only boutique resort on 6 acres overlooking Shadow Lake in the Kawarthas, we were still full of energy and ready to explore.
First, we checked out our luxury ‘beach’ themed, two-bedroom cabin. It was charming and comfortable with the added bonus of a box of welcome treats from the local M’s bakeshop. At this stage of development, there are just three cabins on the lakefront property. Each has a different theme and all come with a completely equipped full kitchen, a private hot tub and deck.
There’s a shared sauna, beach, dock and firepit on the property though we never saw the other guests when we used them. It was a tranquil escape set in nature yet close by to towns and attractions.
It was only a couple of minutes drive to the quaint village of Coboconk located on Balsam Lake, the highest point of the Trent-Severn Waterway, the highest body of freshwater in Canada and the third highest in the world. In June, the 2-day Canada’s Fresh Water Summit Festival is held each year celebrating that Coboconk is the highest point in North America from which you can circumnavigate the world by boat. The Trent-Severn Waterway is a historic canal system that stretches over 386 kilometres, connecting Lake Ontario to Lake Huron.
Among its other distinguishing landmarks, “Coby” has one of the smallest jails in North America, at just 4.57 metres by 8.8 metres. Its walls are 2-foot-thick limestone, mined from the local quarry, and unchanged since the construction of the jail in 1884, as are the iron bars. Local legend tells of the builder Albert Ryckman, who left several bricks in place without mortar with the foresight that should he be caught after a raucous night, he could escape unnoticed. It is said he made use of this several times over the years.
A lot of boaters stop in Coby and sure enough we found a pack of them lined up for Kawartha Dairy ice-cream cones at the local outlet. We did the same with the cheerful knowledge that we would head to the original dairy in Bobcaygeon, in two days to sample more. Then to complete
our reverse order meal, we stopped for top notch fish, chips and slaw at The Coby Chipper, run by George.
The next day we drove all of ten minutes to The Links at Monck’s Landing for an enjoyable nine holes of golf. A couple we chatted with at The Coby Chipper praised the “links style” golf course and rightly so. A unique stone barn serves as the pro shop and a central vantage point of the course. It features 2-foot thick locally quarried stone walls up to the gables, and a “flying- buttress” type roof. According to local lore the Stephens family who were the original owners of the farm upon which Monck’s Landing was built, commissioned a local stonemason named Ed Valentine to build them an indestructible barn after its wooden predecessor had blown down during a windstorm. The stonemason had recently returned from duty during World War 1 and was influenced by the structures he had seen in Scotland during time off. An earthquake in the 1930’s failed to dislodge a stone.
That night we enjoyed a fantastic meal at The Rockcliffe Moore Falls on Lois Lane in Minden, about half an hour from our cabin. The smoked pork ribs were fall off the bone, the pan roasted pickerel ultra fresh, but the star of the meal was the smoked beef tartar served in a hot beef marrow bone. It was so good I’d consider driving up from Toronto just for that dish.
The next day we drove the half hour to the famous Kawartha Dairy in Bobcaygeon. Founded by Jack and Ila Crowe who lived in the house next door to the dairy they bought in 1937, it is still family owned and operated by second, third and fourth generations. Fans of the ice cream have made it a tradition to stop on the way to cottage country at the dairy for a treat. It has earned the highest brand loyalty in the Ontario ice cream industry and has been a part of so many family memories for over 85 years. It is now the leading premium and leading regional ice cream brand in Ontario. (My husband and I are fans too.) Fresh milk and cream is bought from local farms within a 100 mile radius. In the past ten years business has boomed, new stores have opened in Barrie, Orillia and Peterborough bringing the total to nine and major grocery stores across Canada now carry it.
There are at present 47 flavours made including two seasonals such as pumpkin pie and candy cane. Their marketing and public relations person, Alina Golden told me the top five are moose tracks, vanilla, french vanilla, salty caramel and mint chip. She said they will consider consumer requests and have recently added Moon Mist (an East Coast favourite with banana, grape and bubble gum flavours) and Campfire S’more. The latter was so popular, it was out of stock and I couldn’t sample it.
There was so much to do and see all within a half hour drive of our cabin, we eventually ran out of time. Balsam Lake Provincial Park offered hiking trails and bird watching, Kawartha Settlers’ Village has a collection of 20 historic homes and buildings and go-karting and mini-putt was just two minutes up the road. At Rosie’s Dockside Bar and Grill (if I remember right) I could choose from 37 flavours of chicken wings.
Sarah Larbi, one of the owners of Inspire Beach Resort told me this fall they have introduced an exclusive club membership at their resort. Limited to 50 members, a monthly fee of $197 per couple gives members open access to the Beach Resort with five included nights of accommodation for up to four people in one of the luxury two-bedroom cabins, members-only events, 20% off vendor prices and 25% off additional nightly rates. Seems like a bargain to me.