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Families find true relaxation at hidden-away resorts

Paddling on Clearwater Lake at True North Outposts & Cabins
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Families find true relaxation at hidden-away resorts

“Coming to a resort to relax with your family or friends, having fun on the lake and a drink on the dock sounds like heaven to a lot of people.”

What comes to mind when you think of the lodges and resorts in Sunset Country? Fishing, obviously. So where does a family find a quiet getaway to swim and paddle, to sit on a rock, read a book, play board games, and watch the sun go down? A fishing lodge would seem perfectly equipped for that kind of body- and mind-restoring respite from everyday life. But can families go to a fishing lodge if they don’t really want to fish? Yes!

More and more lodges and resorts see the potential in broadening their scope, tapping into the market for people who don’t have a cottage but really, really want to remove themselves to a cottage-like setting. These customers don’t want a hotel. They want the authentic Sunset Country lodge experience that has been the near-exclusive domain of the fish-minded.

As a colleague says: “Coming to a resort to relax with your family or friends, having fun on the lake and a drink on the dock sounds like heaven to a lot of people.”

If you’re one of those people, here are a few Sunset Country resorts that can provide the little piece of heaven you so desire.

Dogtooth Lake Resort near Kenora

Kyle Jones and his parents, Patty and Wayne, run Dogtooth Lake Resort on a picturesque inlet just off Highway 71 about 20 km east of Kenora. We are getting more and more guests coming to our resort in the summer solely as a family vacation and to relax,” Kyle says. About half the July and August clientele fit that category. 

Flipping off the dock house at Dogtooth Lake Resort

Dogtooth Resort has a beach, small waterslide, diving platform and a few kayaks for guests to use for free. If families want to fish, they can drop a line off the dock or rent a little boat and explore Dogtooth Lake. The quiet lake is about 10 km north to south and east to west with lots of islands and little bays. “Fishermen who have been coming to the resort for years will often help families find good spots and provide tips on how to fish them,” Kyle says. 

Guests of all ages will enjoy the sand beach

Guests who don’t want to fish can rent boats and just go for a ride. Rushing River Provincial Park is short boat ride or paddle away. Kilvert Lake, which connects to Dogtooth by a small creek, has a big sand beach one kilometre long.

Enjoy a drink on the dock or go paddling at Dogtooth Lake Resort

Most cabins have two bedrooms and four double beds. Pine Hollow cabin has three bedrooms. The resort also has two group cabins, one with four bedrooms and beds for up to nine people and the other with six rooms and beds for 11 people. Each cabin has a full kitchen and bathroom, a deck and propane BBQ.  Cabins also have satellite TV and wi-fi. The resort supplies linens and towels. Guests bring their own food. Minimum stay is two nights.

True North Outpost & Cabins near Emo

Chuck and Cathy Mosbeck run True North Outpost & Cabins, a road-access resort on Burditt Lake (a.k.a. Clearwater Lake) north of Emo. “We do enjoy having families at our place,” Cathy says. “Many guests say the experience is similar to when they grew up, going outside to play without the need to be on high alert. It’s a safe environment, full of wonder.”

Exploration is the key. As Cathy says: “We don’t have structured activities or programs. That’s not what we do.”

Hours can be spent at the beach at True North's main lodge

True North has a sand beach with a gradual slope into the lake, beach toys and a floating dock with diving board and slide. The sauna by the beach has its own deck for reading and watching the kids at play. Kayaks, paddle boat, and canoe are all complimentary for guest use. “We have some great places on the lake for picnics and rock jumping,” Cathy says.

Swimming off the diving platform at True North on Clearwater Bay

For hikers, the local recreation association maintains a bush trail with access points near True North. The lodge also has board games, books, TVs, VCRs – and wi-fi if parents want to hand out the password,” Cathy says. At day’s end, guests gather for the evening bonfire.

Enjoy an evening fire by the lake

“This place is great to free up the schedule and use your imagination, explore and enjoy simple pleasures,” she adds.

True North has six cabins at the main location. The posted minimum stay is four days, but shorter stays are possible if it fits with the reservation schedule. Cabins have fully equipped kitchens and propane BBQs. Outdoor fish cookers are also available.

Rainbow Point Lodge at Perrault Falls

Bob and Gale Extence operate Rainbow Point Lodge at Perrault Falls on Highway 105 about 60 km north of Vermilion Bay. “The lodge has been our baby for 34 years now, and we have evolved continuously throughout the years,” Gale says.

Even if you're not on a strictly fishing trip, you can still fish!

Fishing and hunting are still huge draws, but the lodge is doing more to bring in families who don’t really want to do either of those things. “We knew we were onto something when we heard time and again that it was the kids who chose a return trip to our lodge over destinations like Disney or Mexico,” Gale says. “The kids really enjoyed having their folks to themselves and experiencing something different that wasn’t always go-go-go. Whether playing horseshoes, fishing off the dock, sliding down a muddy bank into the lake, or whatever, just kicking back is more important to the youth than we have been lead to believe.”

The lodge has a sand volleyball court, playset, swimming area, dock with a slide and kayaks. The hosts encourage families to bring their bikes “as there is plenty of space to roar around camp safely,” Gale says. The lodge and Perrault Falls also have lots of areas to hike and explore.

Cool off in Perrault Lake

Once a week, the Extences cook fish and fries in huge pans over an open fire and guests bring a potluck dish to share. “At this weekly fish fry, we ensure all guests introduce themselves. That way the rest of their week is more relaxed, knowing the people they see throughout their stay,” Gale says. “It’s amazing to see the stress disappear from people as they unwind during their stay.”

All cottages have a lakefront view, charcoal BBQ and full kitchen. In 2017, Rainbow Point Lodge built a large covered pavilion to host weddings, family reunions and workshops, and a place for guests to hang out together during the day.

Lots more options

Each resort in Sunset Country has its own charms and features. For example, Browns' Clearwater West Lodge on Clearwater West Lake off Highway 622 north of Atikokan has self-contained cottages as well as campsites in a more developed resort that includes a lounge and dinner. As Browns’ website says, “simply ‘chilling’ can be part of your itinerary.” Arrowhead Resort, with cabins for up to nine people and a motel, which includes some rooms with kitchenette, is in the village of Nestor Falls with its shops and restaurants – if that’s more your style. For a list of other Sunset Country resorts geared to families, go to visitsunsetcountry.com/family-friendly-lodging.

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