Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Russ Nicholls, the Portage Flyer and the Lt. Governor

Congratulations to Russ Nicholls! He recently returned from Toronto, where he got to stand in the Grand Ballroom at Queen's Park, in the company of the Hon. Lincoln Alexander and the Hon. David Onley, Lt. Governor. The occasion? The Lt. Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement. That was the occasion. And some occasion it was! To qualify requires over 25 years of volunteer service to the preservation of Ontario's heritage.

Russ certainly qualifies! He's been a heritage volunteer since the 1970's, and in 1984 he joined a committee to bring the Portage Flyer train back to the Lake of Bays.

This "little engine that could" is now a working display at Muskoka Heritage Place in Huntsville. The shortest commercial railway in the world, at just a mile of track between North Portage on Peninsula Lake and South Portage on Lake of Bays, the Portage Flyer opened for business in 1904.

You can read all about it in Russ' book, published in 2005, The Rebirth of the Portage Flyer.

The name "Flyer" was an affectionate misnomer. The

train was anything but speedy. When it left North Portage, the hill was so steep that the train had to push the cars up, rather than pull them. That was for safety -- the brakes on the caboose would never have been able to hold the train if anything went wrong. Men were often invited to get off the train and walk up the hill. Sometimes invited to help push the train up the hill...

Grandmother Elizabeth Tapley, who arrived at Bondi in 1905, remembered her first ride on this little train. "We had to get the train down by Boyd's -- the boat stopped at every little bay all the way up to the Portage. Then, you came across on the little tiny railway -- sat on a thing like a box sleigh -- and we had to hang onto each other. It was frightening coming around the corner!"

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