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.


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!


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.


Winter Fishing

by Ben Samann, General Manager

As many of you know, I kinda like fishing. Kinda. In the spring, I go fly fishing for sunfish. In the summer, I cruise the lake for bass. In the fall, it’s muskie. A few times a year, I head to Bermuda to catch pathetically small fish off the dock. All told, I probably put in a few hundred hours a year fishing.

But now, it’s happened. Fishing is over, for a few months at least. I just got back from Bermuda, and the lake is frozen. Ice fishing holds little charm for me, so it’s time to hang my hat, and my fishing rods.

What do I do all winter? Aside from work, playing with Toby and Daisy, and getting to play with my aquariums? I keep myself excited by keeping my fishing gear in top shape. Come spring, I can grab it and go.

Here are the things I do annually, and if you like fishing, you should too:

Tackle box:

  • Empty and clean your tackle box – take out everything in there, and rinse the box. Make sure to let it air dry. Depending on the style of box, you may need a soft toothbrush to get into the corners.
  • Now that all your stuff is out of the tackle box, sort through it. Empty spools of line? Bits of plastic? Lures that were stuck in the same tire you caught? Throw out stuff you don’t need, wash the rest. Let it all air dry, then sort it back into the box.

Reel care:

  • Take a close look at each reel, give it a few spins and really get a feel for how it’s working.
  • Lube ’em up – go to a quiet room, and really listen and feel it. The mechanism should be smooth and quiet. If it’s not, pick up some reel oil (I use the pen type, which lets you carefully put single drops where you need them). Sometimes it’s internal, sometimes it’s in the top, or bottom, or wherever.
  • Rinse them off – use warm water, and maybe a drop of soap, to rinse off any grime.
  • Check your line – After a season out in the sun, the first 100′ of line are probably worse for wear. Strip that off, cut the line, then use a nail knot or similar to put new line on. (Tip: you will rarely need more than 100′ of line, and usually a lot less than that. You can spool a cheap “backing” line onto your reel for the bulk of it, and top it off with a premium line.)
  • Rods, nets, pliers, and other tools:
  • These mostly need a rinse and an inspection. Pliers may need a drop of oil if they’re a bit rusty

Lures:

The most important thing: sort. Everyone has way more lures than they use, so really look at the lures you used this year, and toss the rest in a drawer.

  • I do a lot of different types of fishing, so I end up with a few tackle boxes. Why keep my carp rigs in my bass tackle box if I don’t even have my rods with me?
  • Check the hooks – A good sharp hook is the key to a lot of fishing. I buy hooks in bulk, and keep a close eye on rust, bent hooks, or even lures that came with cheap hooks. Saltwater destroys hooks and split rings, so I tend to replace these at least once a year, depending on use.
  • Pick up a small diamond hook sharpener and give a quick once over to every hook. I use a fly tying vise to secure the hooks, but you don’t need one. I test my hooks on my thumb nail – a sharp hook should scratch your nail with almost no pressure.

Important note: be careful when throwing out hooks. I use empty plastic bottles to keep them from puncturing the bag or getting jammed in someone’s finger. 

Other stuff: 

There are lots of other things I do to keep myself excited. I research new techniques I want to try, consult lake charts to find contours I might not know about, and keep an eye out for sales on common supplies (those people who have come out with me know all about my obsession with whacky rigs – I usually find the bait for 30% off in the winter).

One thing I’ve learned over the years, and enjoy forgetting – you don’t need every lure in the books. You need the stuff you enjoy using. There are always countless lures to be found that look good, and my wall of lures attests to how few I use – the ones on the wall don’t usually end up in a tackle box. But… look! that lure looks really good!

That’s about it.

 

You can follow Ben’s exploits on Instagram @BenSamann.


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?