Stoney Lake Nostalgia

by Nicole Rogerson, Marketing Manager

I love history and all things vintage and retro. Podcasts that talk about little known facts in history, old books, antique shops, history documentaries about the way people lived, the crackle of a record that’s been well-loved and much-played before; such joy!

Photo from 1960s showing man and young boy with fish at Viamede Resort

This is all to try and explain my delight when I came across a folder containing old photos of Stoney Lake and Viamede Resort. It’s so neat to look at the way people dressed, the typography on the signs, even old postcards sent to loved ones with a message written in beautiful script. The original Instagram shares in a way!

One of the things I love about the Stoney Lake area is that it retains a lot of those nostalgic qualities. The classic Canadian summer experience of cottaging, boating, fishing, swimming, and enjoying good food and good company has remained unchanged. There are cottages that have been kept in a family for generations, lovingly maintained and filled with memories. Neighbours connect over the shared experience of life on the lake.

Something I enjoy about working at Viamede is that it has kept much of its historic charm; and we’re proud of it. Some of the floors are crooked, none of the rooms or cottages share a floor plan, the wood paneling in Mount Julian is stunning, and the 19th century chapel creaks as you walk through. Not that I could give up my modern amenities like internet or electricity, but I like to imagine what it was like when it was first built. I wonder about the people who have been through these halls since and what their stories may have been. A guest is coming with their family to Viamede this summer and shared that they have an old family connection to the resort which has inspired the visit. I’m so excited to connect and learn more!

Black-and-white photo of Viamede Resort in the 1950sMy job, simply put, is to share Viamede’s story. It’s one that has been unfolding for a long time. If you come to the resort, certainly take advantage of all the activities and amenities (um, hello indoor pool!), but it’s also well worth taking some time to explore the historic charms that make this place so unique. The massive 450-year-old Viking Oak. As I mentioned previously, the 1800s chapel. Mount Julian, originally built between 1865 and 1875. There’s much to discover if you let this regal place speak.

If you have old photos of Viamede or Stoney Lake you’d like to share, I’d love to see them and hear the story behind the capture!


Mount Julian: From 1874 to 2018

by Alyssa Joynt

This is the first in a series of blog posts about Mount Julian restaurant at Viamede Resort. We’ll be talking about the food, the history, the ambiance, and more! Check back regularly for the latest!

In 1874, Mount Julian stood alone, serving as both an inn and restaurant.  It has always been a destination for great food and incredible experiences, with lakers boating over for meals and people riding from Lakefield, almost 30 km away, just for dinner and a one night stay.

Mount Julian used to be a stand-alone location, with the restaurant on the main floor and a handful of rooms on the upper floor.  When Viamede Resort opened in 1885, Mount Julian served as the leisure side of the property, while Viamede hosted the labour crowd with miners and loggers filling the rooms.  In 1999, Don Bennet took over the resort and joined the two businesses, making Viamede the resort and turning Mount Julian into an Italian style resto, called MJ Bistro.

When Ben Samann took over Viamede in 2011, he knew he wanted to turn MJ Bistro into something special.  A dinner at Bluehill at Stone Barn served as the inspiration for the locally-sourced menu, and when the groundskeeper at the time suggested that Viamede start it’s own farm, Ben was all over the idea.  Food that went straight from farm to table?  Food foraged from the forest?  It was a menu that wrote itself, and the stories behind the food match the storied history of the building itself.

In a recent interview with Ben, he explained that eating at Mount Julian should be a very natural, comfortable experience.  As he said, “we’re not serving asparagus soup in a shoe”.  The food is not overly surprising, deliberately weird, or alienating in any way.  This isn’t a fine dining experience governed by overly strict rules – it’s a place where you can sit down in shorts and a T-shirt and enjoy historic ambience and local food.  Ingredients sourced from as close as the land the building sits on and as far afield as the Lakefield farmer’s market, it’s a meal that feels like you’re coming home.

Welcome to Mount Julian.  This summer, we are opening our doors to a new, online experience on this blog.  From the way the food is foraged to the hand-selected wine pairings, we invite you to join us as we rediscover the stories behind Mount Julian.