A Newbie Goes Boating

by Nicole Rogerson, Marketing Manager

I finally had the chance to experience the joy that is boating on Stoney Lake.

Here’s the thing: I know absolutely nothing about boats. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a motorboat. Usually, my idea of boating involves paddling in a kayak or canoe.

On a recent Monday morning, I came into work and settled in at my desk to check emails and catch up from the weekend. We’d just gotten some silkie chicks who were calling the lobby their temporary home, so I grabbed my camera to go shoot a few pics (and say “awwww” repeatedly over the cute little balls of fluff). So far, a fairly typical day. Ben then asked if I’d yet been out on the lake. After answering no, this led to grabbing my hat and sunglasses and trotting down to the dock. Of all days to decide to wear a skirt to work!

As we headed out, I snapped some shots of the resort from the water which slowly shrank away out of sight. My head was on a constant swivel as we cruised towards Upper Stoney. We caught sight of turtles sunning themselves on rocks, an osprey swooping out of the trees, and peeped at the cottages along the shore. Ben pointed out spots where rock lurked just below the surface of the lake. These are easy to miss and can catch unfamiliar boaters off guard (Stoney Lake does its name justice!).

Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas

We went past East Syndicate Island, protected by the Kawartha Land Trust and the largest undeveloped island on the lake. After seeing Big Duck Pond (a very good fishing spot, according to Ben) and coasting through a narrow channel which I wouldn’t have thought passable, we headed back.

Boating Stoney Lake

What a glorious experience!

The water sparkling in the sunshine and the wind tossing your hair around. Admiring the stunning combination of rock and forest, not even sure if you’re looking at island or mainland. It reminded me of the 1000 Islands, with cottages perched on tiny islands and bends leading to small coves and bays.

Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas

On returning to Viamede, I grabbed some shots of the tin boats which are newly available for guests to rent. Back on dry land, Ben said: “Anytime you need water shots, you could just grab a tinny”. I looked dubiously at the boat. If I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a motorboat, you can imagine how many times I’ve been at the helm of one (zero, it’s zero). Something tells me that, by the end of summer, that number is going to increase.

 

Rent one of our tinny boats or go on a boating excursion with Ben as part of our summer recreation schedule.


Memories of Summer 2018

by Kayleigh Hindman, Operations Manager

The end of the year is almost here and as I sit in the verandah avoiding the paperwork I need to do, I look over the lake and think of the drastic change we’ve had from summer to the winter ice that now coats vast Stoney Lake. Although it seems like a distant memory at this point, I can’t help but to think back to the warmest day of summer and have myself a good laugh.

It was hot. It was so hot you wouldn’t believe how hot it was. Ben was off somewhere enjoying his car air conditioning and I was left alone on what can only be drastically over exaggerated as the hottest day of summer. It was just after Labour Day and I had openly decided I was going to shirk some responsibilities for awhile (#treatyourself). So I did what any reasonable resort staff member would do… I stole my boss’s boat.

If you’re going to keep reading, I feel I should take the chance to defend myself a little. I’m actually pretty smart (in the next few paragraphs you’re going to doubt this) and fairly reliable (you’ll doubt this too).

But what exactly did my smart self do while grandtheft-boating? I changed into a bathing suit I keep in my car, located my boss’s boat keys, and informed our amazing front desk team that I was running away and if I didn’t return not to worry about it… then I ran back to the office and plugged in my dying phone. Next, I untied the Boston Whaler, hopped aboard, and headed out to the middle of the lake. I spent an hour jumping off the boat, swimming around, splashing about, chasing the boat, and repeating before a harsh wind started to blow and I decided, begrudgingly, I should probably be doing my job.

So I climbed back on board, folded in the swim ladder, did a quick check to make sure I hadn’t lost anything, and threw my uniform back on (to deny that this mid-day sojourn ever happened). I started the boat as the wind got rougher, and thought to myself, “if I capsize Ben’s boat I am doomed.” I decided to motor out and make my turn back to the resort between a couple islands to break up some of the waves – see, I said I was actually pretty smart! Halfway through my turn I was hit by a massive wave. Who knew Stoney got tidal waves? Not me! And then the engine made a terrible beeping noise and suddenly cut out…

I put it in neutral and tried again – life for thirty seconds then nothing more – so I try again, and again, and again. It sputtered to life, beeped, died, and I repeated the cycle. Thinking back to my boater safety course, I grabbed the canoe paddle. Turns out I couldn’t exactly reach the water, nor could I really paddle a Boston Whaler with a canoe paddle – physics wins this round. So I sat there, pouting, as the waves pushed me towards a very, very, rocky bay. Using my recently useless paddle I managed to push myself away from the rocks and park the Whaler (it’s biggish boat) on a 4’ piece of dock. I jumped out of the Whaler, tied it as tightly as I possibly could to this itty bitty dock, and jumped out – now would be a good time to mention I left my sneakers on shore – to go looking for help.

First house, no one home, second house, no one home. I could hear kids playing in the next bay over but figured it might be wise to avoid terrifying small children at this point. I ran back to the boat thinking “clearly I’m doing something silly – maybe its not in neutral.” Started the motor – life for ten seconds – then the acceptance set in that I’m stranded two bays from work and ultimately doomed.

Suddenly, I saw her, this marvelous, lovely, amazing lady walking her dogs. I ran up to her and with little to no articulation introduced myself and explained the situation. She let me use her phone, so I called the resort, tell the front desk what happened, and sent them to get me another boating staff member to come rescue me. Meanwhile my savior and I got to talking and she says “Hey, I know a little about boats, want me to look at it?” Obviously, I said “yes, please!” so she grabbed a can of gas out of her garage and we headed down while discussing the first rule of boater safety (always bring a cell phone) and the ongoing hilarity of my situation.

On arrival at the boat, my new friend recognized A) my stolen boat is out of gas, B) it has a reserve tank, and she promptly hooked it up and as a team we managed to push me and the Whaler off the dock and into the lake. In unintended appreciation, I left behind one lonely canoe paddle that I informed her she could totally keep (if you’re reading this sorry about your paddle Ben).

As I came back towards the shore at Viamede, I saw the Sous-Chef waving at me from the dock; he helped tie me off then informed me he’s already called Ben and told him I broke the boat. At this point I started panicking – similar to when you throw a party in your parents’ house and they’re out of town and you’ve broken something – that kind of panic.

So I sat around, waiting, dreading the inevitable conversation. When Ben arrived back at Viamede, he asked what happened to which I responded “turns out you were out of gas” and he laughed so hard at me that I couldn’t help but laugh too. And this story of me getting ship wrecked is the highlight of my summer. The story I’ll tell everyone and the reminder of the importance of boater safety, cell phones, and the kind helpfulness of Stoney Lakers.


The Only Honest Fishing Story You’ll Ever Read… Sort Of

by Alyssa Joynt

One of the best parts of working at Viamede is that I am forced to spend my entire summer on the lake.  What a shame, right?  One of the worst parts of working at Viamede is that our GM Ben can turn to me and tell me to meet him on the dock at 6 o’clock in the morning because we are going fishing.  I am not an avid fisherwoman, but I dragged myself out of bed and made my way to “work” for my first real fishing expedition since I was a kid.

The last time I went fishing was when I was maybe ten years old, so it’s been a while.  Cutting through the morning mist hanging on the lake, Ben arrived in his boat to pick up myself and the mother and son joining us.  None of us were very experienced, so as soon as we were out on the lake Ben gave us all a quick version of Fishing 101.  He showed us how to hold the rod properly, familiarized us with some basic fishing terminology, and showed us how to cast.  He taught us that you always have to keep a firm grip on your rod with one hand, and showed us how to hold the line with one finger while opening the bail so that you can tip your rod back and cast.  I was probably the last person to get the hang of it – I just kept dropping an excessive amount of line right in front of the boat, which created quite the mess.  I ended up with clumps of tangled fishing line that Ben had to come and fix, but eventually I figured it out too.

 

I wasn’t the only one who needed help, though.  The little guy with us needed reminders on how to hold his rod properly with one hand, and we all needed to be told from time to time that we just needed to let our lures sink instead of drawing them in constantly.

It took all of us a while to catch any fish, although everyone caught a fair amount of salad, or vegetarian fish as I like to call it.  Finally, just as Ben was getting nervous that we were beginning to doubt the existence of fish, we started feeling some bites.  Ben, of course, caught the first fish, and despite it being rather small he was quite happy to show it off.

 

 

After that, the fish started to come out of hiding.  We caught largemouth bass and rock bass, and Ben taught us the difference between the two.  Rock bass have spiny fins and red eyes, so they’re easy to distinguish if you know what you are looking for.  As a fully trained fish identifier, I can now tell you with a very small percentage of certainty that this is a picture of a rock bass…

 

 

…and that this is a picture of a largemouth bass.

 

Check out the red eyes on this bad boy!

 

While Ben was having all the luck in the world (partially because he kept casting right where my rod was and stealing my fish), the boy with us still hadn’t caught anything.  We moved to a spot where there was a big rock that had a hole in the middle, and he caught the biggest fish of the outing.

 

 

All in all, it was a pretty cool experience.  While I’m still not convinced that Ben can go out and catch 15-16 inch bass on a regular basis, I will admit that fishing is pretty fun.  Between the mist on the lake, the music of the loons, and the excitement of actually catching a fish, it’s worth getting up early.  I’ll have to go out again so that Ben can prove the existence of big fish, and I’ll keep you posted.  Someone has to keep the fishing stories straight, right?

 


The Gathering: All Weekend Long

What if you could take our quarterly dinner party, The Gathering, and stretch it allllll weekend long? Food coma aside, you’d be sure to come home feeling thoroughly nourished in heart, soul and body.

Well, that’s exactly what we did the weekend of March 24-26. 16 brave gourmands joined us for a weekend long exploration into Viamede’s culinary philosophy: what can be sourced from the land around us, is complemented by ingredients from our partner farmers and food producers.

Friday Night

The adventure began on a rainy Friday night at The Boathouse, where Chef Jay served up platter after platter of elevated pub grub favourites: sunfish and chips, beef tongue pastrami, and sous vide porchetta with a side of wild leek pesto. Our Open Kitchen concept was kicked off, with guests joining the culinary team stove-side to pick up some cooking tips.

Saturday Big Breakfast

On Saturday, attendees rolled in for our Big Breakfast buffet. Sun streamed in through the verandah as we sampled blueberry pancakes, traditional bircher muesli, sausage, smoked salmon, crispy potatoes, eggs, bacon, pastries and more. Espresso, cappuccino, tea and hot chocolate were the beverages of choice.

Open Kitchen & Chef’s Table

At noon, Chef Jay threw open the kitchen doors and invited our guests in for the signature Open Kitchen / Chef’s Table event. The group formed teams to prepare a home-made lunch fit for kings and queens. Under Chef Jay’s tutelage, the groups prepared mushroom soup with scones, sous vide brisket and potato salad, and blueberry crumble with earl grey ice cream to finish. When the cooking was done, everyone enjoyed the fruits of their labour, family style, around a long table right in the heart of the kitchen.

Tapping and Green Thumbs

Those who weren’t still lingering over scones and wine in the kitchen, joined our head groundskeeper, Jarrod, for a walk through the forest on Saturday afternoon. Jarrod showed the group how to identify and tap maple and birch trees for sap, and discussed our kitchen garden program. We’re guessing you can find at least a few of our guests in their backyards this week, contemplating which of their own trees they want to test out!

9 Courses To Heaven

After a few catnaps and probably some more caffeine, our guests met at Mount Julian for a lively cocktail hour before dinner. With appetites roused, we sat down at a long table in the century old farmhouse, just as the sun was setting over Stoney Lake. A 9 course feast was brought out from the kitchen, dish by dish, each course paired with a unique Ontario wine, beer, or spirit. General Manager Ben Samann recounted a personal story with each pairing, and his love of exploring the province for rare, unusual and delicious libations became clear! Dinner went late into the night, accented by the live guitar playing of Mike Graham. When the feast was done, guests continued the after-party with classic rock on vinyl and their favourite wines from the evening.

Recovery Sunday

A recovery brunch on Sunday morning was a nourishing farewell to new friends, great food and delicious beverages. We hope to see you for the next Gathering Weekend!