We’re a bit different here.
Viamede’s owner, general manager, dog wrangler, fisherman, forager, and random project doer, Ben, is the reason why Viamede is what it is.
Ben grew up in the country, annoying his mother by his passion for fishing and distaste for taking fish off hooks. His love of food and drink, nature, stories and people led him to the Ontario resort industry, where he is building the cottage resort that is everything it should be, to him.
On any given day, you can find Ben hanging out with his golden retriever, Toby #2000 (a rescue from Golden Rescue), dreaming about Ontario fishing (or actually fishing), tasting anything the cooks make, and planning some new hare-brained scheme to recruit trash pandas to lead guided paddles (any help would be appreciated. So far, they’ve only managed to lose their snacks).
We’re here because we love the resort lifestyle. Most of our staff share a passion for the outdoors, adventure, food or dogs, and we want to share that with you.
Viamede’s not perfect, not even close. It’s an old building that was added onto many times, with varying standards of construction. The floors are crooked, the patio leaks despite our best efforts, and the mice that live in the woods sometimes choose to visit us without a reservation.
Viamede is supposed to feel like a friend’s cottage – you’re here for the memories to be made, and we’re here to help you however we can. We don’t lock a lot of doors, nor have a ream of waivers to borrow a kayak, we just want you to have a good time.
We’re not the Marriott. But we really like it that way.
Viamede has been here for around 150 years, and we’re hoping to get 50 more. As we move forward, we focus on the fundamentals, not passing fancies. You won’t find all those perfect shots with today’s modern floral patterns, but rather colourful wool blankets that were in style 20 years ago, and will be again in 20 years. We’ll wait.
Commitment to nature
Nature is neat. Did you know that if you don’t spray chemicals all over, there are some weird green things that grow colourful bits? It’s actually pretty cool how nature does that. Viamede’s not all about manicured lawns. In the past 8 years since Ben took over, we’ve converted about 2 acres of our grounds from lawns to wildflowers. With almost no effort, these patches of land have grown an enormous variety of native trees and shrubs.
For some, this is a sign of decay, but for us, it has so many advantages – we have cut down the time we need to run lawnmowers by more than 50%, reducing noise and inconvenience for guests. We’ve seen more and more bugs, tree frogs, and salamanders all around us. Our beehives have some of the fattest honeybees in the region thanks to 150 acres of pesticide-free land.
It does have some downsides – we do end up with some poison ivy in areas, and not all pathways are straight, but what’s the point of being in the middle of nature if we’re not gonna enjoy it?
We don’t just want to save the land around us, so we try to keep our footprint as small as possible. It’s rarely something big, but countless small things we have changed.
- In-room toiletries – in 2014, we bought almost 8000 tiny bottles of shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. After much discussion, we changed to larger dispensers (picture) that are used long term, and refilled on site. Last year, we only replaced about 100 of these dispensers, resulting in a shockingly large reduction in plastic
- We got rid of straws before it was cool, as well as plastic stir sticks and other single-use items.
- In 2015, we were putting 2 bottles of water in every guest room, every day, and these were used constantly. We added signs in our washrooms that our water is drinkable, and cut water bottle use down to about 10% before eliminating it entirely.
Viamede is your personal… whatever
We believe that people are generally here to do things, but some aren’t. We’re here to give you the tools to do whatever you want, but we’re not gonna pester you all day to participate in 4 pm limbo.
With any stay at the resort, just about all the activities are included, from borrowing a kayak (they’re literally just on the beach, help yourself) to guided fishing with Ben (subject to many factors). We host wine tastings, cooking classes, and guided hikes. We’ve noticed that no matter how cool we think our plans are, people seem to like doing their own thing. So, have at it!
Ah, the food. We love food. But it’s hard to get right.
Food doesn’t need to be pretentious, nor fancy, to be delicious. Of course it can be, and we have a farm, a gardener, several foragers, and a tasting menu-only restaurant to be as pretentious as we want, but you don’t have to indulge in these to enjoy a fantastic meal.
Our Boathouse Restaurant (in summer) and 1885 (the rest of the year) are a place for simple fare, including burgers, salads, braised beef short ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. Almost every dish has a touch of local, or a story to be shared. One of our most popular dishes is the “foraged pasta,” which is made from the invasive garlic mustard. Each year, we do our best to eradicate every patch we find, grind up the leaves into a pesto, and serve it to our guests, and invariably, it returns the following year.
It’s all delicious, and it’s all real.
Above all else, we like to keep things simple – for you, for us, for everyone. Check in takes a minute. The kayaks are on the beach – help yourself! We have one rate, and it always includes just about everything we do. Staying at Viamede should be the easiest thing you do all year.