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.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Winter is a Carnival

It takes a lot of organization to make a Winter Carnival run, so hats off to Ashley and Shannan for the work they put in.

There was so much on offer for kids and adults alike.  From nail driving contests to the inter-active Science Show, minnow races to displays from the Snowmobile Club, body-bowling on the rink, pancake breakfast and hot lunches provided by the Volunteer Firemen.

 Tim the Puppet Tamer held the kids (both big and little) spellbound. He's seen here with his psychic turtle.

The Body Zorb track was a huge hit. And a huge workout!  The best was when someone found themselves stuck head down, feet sticking up -- but a good shove from a neighbouring 'zorb' would set that right and they'd be off again.

What's a carnival without the excuse to chomp down a syrupy moose tongue?  These are a northern tradition!

 Taffy wasn't the only dog at the Carnival, but we think she was the only one to try out the Snowman  Look-alike!
Dog sled rides are always popular. Across by the rink, the Kitty Kat snowmobiles offered another type of ride for the small set.  There was also a snow-hut building competition, snowman making and a bonfire.    If anyone got cold outside, there was non-stop action going on in the Community Centre, with people flowing from station to station so it never appeared to be crowded but always appeared to be 'steady.'

And there was non-stop Karaoke action.  Kendra and Sydney (my third cousins, if you need to do the Family Tree!) stepped up to the mic.  And those gals could really belt out the tune!

What a lot of fun takes place at these winter carnivals.  Dwight's extends over a few days, starting with a Talent Contest for the kids and wrapping up with a Dance for the adults.

Political Statement

This would have to be for those times when the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

We refuse to make further comment.

Where the Snow Is

The snow is not there. That's Queen's Park in Toronto, for those of you who live in the outer burgs (or Mars).  I was there on Friday, to attend the Lt. Governor General's Heritage Awards ceremony. The Township of Lake of Bays received one of these coveted awards for the work done by the Heritage Committee.  (sound of loud cheering -- that is the Committee that I Chair, and it consists of absolutely wonderful volunteers!)   I drove down through what has to have been the worst storm of the winter so far. Arrived in Toronto, and thought I had missed the exit and was somewhere in the deep South.  No wonder people aren't coming north to ski... the thought has probably not crossed their minds.

Which is a shame.  Jim, from the Craft Cabin, sent me these pictures. They were taken on the same day, up here in north Muskoka, along our cross country ski trails.

We are willing to concede that no snow in the city makes getting around easier.   The downside is that it is very drab down there.
Not bright, and clean, and sparkly. Not like up here.

We're quite happy to let Toronto have this Non-Winter, if that's what they really want.  We just think you owe it to yourselves, and your kids, and your friends, to make the trek north to where Winter is.   Winter is wonderful, if you just do it right.  In North Muskoka, we've got it down to an art form.

On the Payroll

We had a Nature Club here with us this past weekend. They skied the Leslie Frost Centre on Saturday, and skied our trails on Sunday. In between, they were out snowshoeing, mostly here.

Saturday night we went out to look at the Stars, and -- starting from the Big Dipper -- they can now locate 13 constellations, the Andromeda Galaxy and one variable star (which gets brighter and dimmer as the two suns eclipse each other.)  Relax, there will not be a test... we promise.

While chatting with some of them at the stable, my attention was caught by a big bird soaring over the Lookout. "That's one big raven," I thought. Until the bird dropped lower and turned back against the dark of the trees and you could very clearly see the white head and tail.  A Bald Eagle! 

That got all our attention -- and the guests suddenly, excitedly, pointed out two more eagles, lifting up over the tree line.  They were accompanied by some rather put out crows.  Now, if I were a crow, I would think twice about flying in to harrass an eagle. Have you seen those talons? That beak? Those huge wings?  But our crows are bold, and when unhappy with other birds in what they deem to be 'their sky' they tap inner depths.

The eagles were awesome, and not least because they obligingly soared low over the resort, affording great viewing and the opportunity for many camera clicks.  Kathy has promised to send me some of the pictures she took. I was shooting with a little video camera, so my shots are distant.

Some of the guests commented that this year they had not seen the deer. They were a little disappointed about that -- but, just as if they were on the payroll with the eagles, the deer were here too.   One was right outside the office window.  Another was by my house. The cars visible in the background belong to the guests who'd hoped to spot a deer. Timing, it seems, is everything.

The wolves? Well, after that huge fall of snow on Friday, Saturday morning we found the tracks of one really big wolf who had wandered in past the office, found it closed, proceeded to the stable (found it closed as well) looped around by the garage and then headed off over the hill.  

I just may have to add all these obliging wild creatures to the payroll if they are going to show up like this for our guests!

A Couple of Great Visitors

Bondi Village has been helping craft superb family memories for over a century.  We're proud of that. There's lots here for kids of all ages, and no place better for getting unplugged and out into the "real world."  
We're a great place for couples, too!  Through the winter and spring, we are offering great Specials for couples who long to get away and reconnect with themselves and each other.
We were reminded of that when Andrea and her family built us these wonderful snowpeople at their cottage last weekend. There's still lots of winter left here in North Muskoka, still lots of time to snowshoe or ski or snowmobile and then come back to our comfortable cottages and cuddle up by the fire. We'll even give you a little gift of hot chocolate and mugs to entice you to stay there a little bit longer.

1st Annual Muskoka Paintball Biathlon

Don't miss this... it's a great new winter sport, and it's happening right here at Bondi Village Resort this Saturday.

You can come up for the weekend -- we've got deals on accommodation and entries for our registered guests. Spend the weekend, enjoy the Biathlon, ski or snowshoe our trails, watch for the deer (and the Bald Eagles!), build a snowman and remind yourself of why winter is FUN! Our snow conditions are fabulous.

Or you can simply come for the day and take part. We hope to see lots of our friends and neighbours come out to play.

Biathlon is an amazing sport, combining the physical exertion of the nordic skiing with the calm centredness of the target shooting.  The downside is that if you would like to give the sport a try, there's this whole thing about firearms -- on which you obviously must be well trained. And it can be costly.

To make an end run around that little issue, so kids and adults alike can give the sport 'a go', paintball markers are being used instead of actual rifles.  This means everyone can play.

Back Country Paintball and Algonquin Outfitters have partnered with us to host the 1st Muskoka Paintball Biathlon this coming Saturday, in the back fields at Bondi Village.  There are classes for kids aged 10 - 14; 15 - 18; and of course, one for the big kids, over 18.  Registration is just $40/person on the day of the event. 

Because it is an introduction, the emphasis is on the fun of the game -- the ski trail is not particularly hilly, nor particularly long, so those who are (shall we say) not on the cutting edge of Olympic fitness need have no qualms about setting out on the track.  In fact, Algonquin Outfitters will have some gear on hand for those who maybe have never tried nordic skiing but are dab hands at Paintball.  Switch it up -- try something new.

Back Country Paintball is providing all the targets, and the markers --  and there's will be the only paintball markers used on the site. You don't carry them while you ski, but when you come into the target zone, one of the crew will hand you the paintball gun.  Never fired one of those in your life?  No worries -- there is a Skills Development session in the morning, from 10 to noon, when you can learn how.  You can also use that time to ski around the course to check it out, or practice your ski technique.

From noon to one, while the Dwight Lion's Club are on site to sell you a lunch, we've got a class for the Lollipops -- those little guys aged 7 to 9 who would love to try this out. If they have another family member registered, they get to ski around a very short course and shoot a few targets at no additional charge.  And of course we've got a discount price if you've got a family of four, to keep it affordable.

Races will begin at 1 p.m.  There are prizes, thanks to our generous sponsors.

This is a wonderful way to get out and give Biathlon a try, have a little taste of the sport if you will.     And if you don't get your fill of skiing on the day, Bondi's network of ski trails across the road from the Biathlon site will be open to you as well.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Jim, from the Oxtongue Craft Cabin, has sent us a link to some wonderful video of skiers out enjoying the cross country trails here at Bondi Village.  My Visa card always gives a little sigh of relief when the Craft Cabin closes for the winter... it's a dangerous place for a credit card, with so many fantastic and unique items on offer.  Jim also gives a little sigh of relief -- it means he can look forward to the ski season!

Jim enjoys our trails -- he lives right next to one of them, so gets a Season Pass and is out there as soon as the snow allows us to open the trails.  He also enjoys a front row seat to the wildlife in the area -- he's next door to Damalot after all. The beavers can put on quite a show in the pond beside the Craft Cabin, and just across the road.

A huge thanks also to Eric Prince, who put the videos together that are featured here.  He, his brother Bryan, and friend Michelle Weeks  get a big thumbs up from all of us here at Bondi.

That's our good friend Jim, in the red jacket, smokin' the hills (both up and down).

Thanks for sharing these.  I know some of my 'faithful readers' on this Blog are more familiar with a Summer Bondi. Some may have never been here in the snow, when Bondi changes the colour scheme and the focus.  These videos are a great way to get just a taste, just a hint, of all the good things that happen out there on our 20 km. of ski trails!

Just a note -- I arrived home from Toronto on Friday night at 11.30.  I drove down to Toronto earlier in the day, through some really nasty white-out conditions around Barrie.  Toronto has forgotten how to "do" winter, and the grass is green(ish) down there. To be honest, it looks drab and very like an endless November.  Handy for the city, I suppose, since it makes getting around easier, but rather Season Affected Disorder Syndrome on the whole.  I drove home that evening through worse conditions -- but not until we got north of Orillia.  Winter tires, a Northern Gal upbringing, and a keen appreciation of the problems caused by speed and surface friction stand me in good stead. That, and a great set of snow tires.

 The point is that when I got home, at 11.30... Brian was out grooming the ski trails.  He knew that we have guests this weekend who have come to ski.  He also knew that he was going to be a little busy moving the snow in the driveways from "here" to "there," so he got an early start on the process.

For which all of you who ski our trails should be sure to thank him!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Water Skipping

Think of a stone. It is heavy. It doesn't float.  

But if you throw it hard enough, and get the angle right, it will skip across water.

The same principle applies to the Puddle Jumpers, who ride their snowmobiles over open water.  Preferably with someone nearby who can provide water rescue when (and note I don't say IF) things go wrong.

The thing about water skipping with a snowmobile is that they do NOT float, and the margin of error is not as big as you'd perhaps like.  And that said, yeah, if you've got the speed, and the nerve, and whatever it is in your head that says, "this is a good thing," then yes, the sleds will run the water.  

Don't try this at home.

Stephen sent us these sort video clips he took at the Dorset Winter Carnival.  And no, he did not skip -- he was the videograher!

Snow Dog Angels

Here's to a lovely winter tradition -- making snow angels!

It's not just for the kids....

Big Snow

 That vague red object at the garage? That is Brian and the snowplow.   I took this picture at 11.10 a.m. today.

Which, it would appear, he will be needing.

We are in the middle of a blizzard, with monstrously big snowflakes. It is beautiful.

We've got skiers here this week, and some snowmobilers. For them, fresh snow is good news indeed.

Our philosophy on winter is that if we are going to have this season -- and we are -- then it should be a season you can actually have fun with.  And the base ingredient, the one thing you really need to play outdoors when it's cold, that would be snow.

So bring it on, we say.  The Dwight Winter Carnival is this coming weekend.  The Snowmobilers who have waited all year to get out on their sleds are coming north.  Skiers are dancing on the slopes.  It's all good.    Just remember to dress for the conditions, and never forget that weather always looks worse through a window -- once you are out and doing, it's way more fun than you might think. Get out and give it a try!

Having a Ball at the Snowball! Cheers to You, Dorset!

 When the community of Dorset gets together, they are unbeatable.  In the past few years, the Community Group has surged forward, developing a dynamite Playground for the kids, re-furbishing the dock area, adding planters to beautify the Village, building a gazebo by the water. There's a lot of energy and camaraderie buzzing about Dorset -- a community that sits (sometimes inconveniently) on the dividing line between the Township of Lake of Bays and the Algonquin Highlands, in Haliburton.  There's no division amongst the citizens, however, who come together brilliantly.

This year, the Dorset Snowball was another huge success.  The weather was perfect. Last year it was a deep freeze, which drove a lot of visitors to the indoor activities and displays, but this year it was all about the Great Outdoors.

And how Great it was!  From the hot-air balloon rides, through the many displays by the Firehall to the action on the Skating Rink and Toboggan hill, the place was crammed.    The Face Painter was kept on the go -- and gosh, was she outstanding! Just look at these gorgeous faces!

Outdoor entertainment included the Junkyard Symphony, a display of pioneer tools (including some of the equipment used to cut out blocks of ice each winter to chill food through the summer ahead), and this Juggling, Balloon-Critter creating Stiltwalker, who helped make the Parade extra-special and who made everyone look up (which helped everyone see the iconic Dorset Lookout Tower on the hill, too!)

The toboggan hill was a 'happening place'. Indoors at the Community Centre there were all kinds of activities, and lunch on offer.  Outdoors the Lions Club was peddling hot cider and sausages.  Moose tongues were a hot selling item (and no, if you aren't sure, no moose are harmed in the making of this sweet, sugary confection)

It's not all about machines and games -- there was a chap there with his collection of animal calls, and he was playing to a rapt audience of adults and children who were fascinated by his abiltiy to conjure everything from hooting owls, keening loons to lonely moose.

 We are grateful to all the people who come together to provide such a wonderful active day for families -- and not least to the members of the Dorset Volunteer Fire Dept.  The Station was part of an open house, with volunteers on hand to take you around the various equipment and trucks (and fire trucks are an endless source of intrigue for the kids, let's be honest).  In addition the Fire Dept. put on a display of an Ice Water Rescue -- and that is something that a) you never want to be involved in as the Rescuee, and b) we are all tremendously grateful that there are people out there who know how to get you out of that kind of a mess.  Cold water is nothing to be trifled with. Add a layer of ice on top, and it is treacherous beyond all reason.

There were kids building -- and painting -- snow sculptures. A huge hit is always the Kitty Kat track -- where the McEachern family turn out with the mini-snowmobiles. You can't get these any more.  Andy works hard to keep these running, while Penny, Ruth and Grace leap nimbly around the track helping out the tiny drivers.

The big sleigh horses were happy to pause and make new friends.  The OPP were on hand with one of their trail sleds, lights flashing.  Beside that, the snowmobile club had the trail groomer there. Most people are quite taken aback by the sheer size of the equipment the clubs need to keep the snowmobile trails in great shape.  There was more -- it seemed that the action never even paused to draw breath.

Down at the Bridge, the snowmobiles were gathered in force. And yes, as always, some of them were running the open water. They call it Puddle Jumping.  We have some alternative names for it.

All this, for a $3 Carnival Button!  What a Fabulous Family Day indeed.    I ended my visit to Dorset, as I almost always do, with a quick stop at the legendary Robinson's General Store.

So here's some loud cheering for the Great Community of Dorset, who once again have put on one of the very best Winter Carnivals in the province.  Thanks!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Knock knock... it's time for that First Tap.

What's that tapping sound?

Why the start of the Maple Syrup season.  It's still a few weeks away, waiting for the hot sunny days and the freezing cold nights to bring the sap surging up the maple trees, but it is on the way.

To celebrate the start of the Ontario maple syrup season, there is a little known but  none-the-less important ceremony, known as the First Tapping.

It signals the start of the first agricultural crop of the year.  Yes, just like apples and summer sweet corn, maple syrup is a food crop.  In Ontario, over 3000 sugarmakers make over one million litres of this fabulous and natural sweetener. Not to mention, a ride through a sugarbush is far more fun that tromping about a pumpkin patch -- no slight intended to the lovely orange fruits of Hallowe'en!

This summer the Provincial annual general meeting for the Syrup Producers' Association is behing held right up here in North Muskoka, at Deerhurst July 12 - 14.  Keynote speakers at that meeting from University of Rhode Island and Laval will be speaking on the nutritional and health benefits of this delicious natural sweetener.

The ceremonial First Tapping will take place on February 25, at the Deerhurst sugarbush (just behind the Deerhurst Highlands golf clubhouse)   Festivities include a barbeque hosted by SAVOUR Muskoka, taffy on snow, demonstrations of maple candy making, tours of the sugarhouse and rides to the site of the First Tapping.

Ontario is one of the world's leading maple sugar producers.and the tradition runs deep.  First Nations people taught the early pioneers the art, and ensured that there was something sweet that could be kept through the winter months when food was limited, and -- to be blunt -- getting rather bland by late March...

It is an honour for the Muskoka Maple Syrup Producers to be hosting the First Tapping this year, so do come on out and learn a little more about this wonderful syrup, the trees from which it comes, and how it is made.  It's a super chance to get out in the woods, celebrate spring, reconnect with nature, and spend some quality family time.

So, to answer the initial query, of Knock, knock... who's there?  It's the sound of the First Tree being tapped.  Shortly it will be followed by the soft 'plink, plink' of sap falling into buckets. 

For those who think Winter goes on too, long, this is a great opportunity --   if they're starting to tap the trees in preparation for the sugaring season, Spring can't be far behind.

Friday, February 17, 2012


We'll see you tomorrow, Saturday, at the Dorset Snowball!  This is without any shadow of doubt one of the best winter carnivals in the province, if we do say so ourselves.

All you need to get in is a Carnival Button -- which (as you can see) makes a smashing fashion accessory for any chapeau.

There's lots of interesting stuff to see, and to do, and to nibble on too.

Come on out in the Dorset Snow -- you'll have a ball!

End of a Chapter

We have been here long enough to remember Grandview when it was a farm, as well as a hotel.  When you could go for a real farm-style dinner in the spacious dining room overlooking the lake.  Famous for the home-made bread, Mrs. Cookson would claim that the flavour was because they used the water from cooking the potatoes in the kneading of the dough.  I still remember one time we were there, and she came sailing out of the kitchen, arms laden with plates of food, shortly after we had finished our meal.  Plonking the plates down in front of our stuffed-to-the-gills selves, she cheerily announced there was still roast beef leftover, and asked "Would you like another dinner, dearie?"

Growing up here, we knew that Grandview was synonomous with friendly hospitality. Over the years, it grew, and changed, and developed into one of the premier resort destinations in Muskoka.  It was still synonomous with excellence in service and hospitality.  The Buffet Brunches were legend.  The nine-hole Golf Course won awards for its environmental sensitivity and preservation of bird habitat.  Our cousin Robin Tapley developed a Nature Trails program that included, among other ventures, a first class Observatory.  Through it's quarter-century partnership with Delta Hotels and Club Link, Grandview expanded to include the world-class Mark O'Meara Golf course -- and that clubhouse hosted venues of all sorts.  We went for weddings, seminars, awards banquets, AGM's, business launches and so much more. 

So it was a very strange feeling, driving into town this week, to see the Delta Grandview sign painted over and blanked out.  Delta and Clublink have parted company, amicably enough we are told, and while the golf course will continue to operate, the staff has spent the past few months winding down the hotel operations and closing out the resort.  At least for now, it's closed.  There may well be a new incarnation in the resort's future.  Or it may continue only as the Condo Owners' associations determine.  Time will tell that tale.

Thank you, Delta Grandview, for being part of our beautiful Muskoka landscape for all these years, for continuing the original tradition of excellence in hospitality, for being part of all our lives.  We'll miss you...

Grandview is not the only resort in North Muskoka undergoing a sea change.  Nor'Loch Lodge, in Dwight, is also currently closed and exploring new directions for the future.  They, too, have been a wonderful asset and fabulous neighbours, hugely involved in everything that happened in the village of Dwight.   That closure, while on a smaller scale than that of Delta Grandview, is no less saddening. 

We wish all those involved with these properties the very best as the future unfolds.  It's been an honour to know and work with all of you over the years.

The Sleds are Here!

Tim, our trailmaster guru for the Algonquin Snowmobile Club tells us that the trails up here are as good as it gets.  The Club is working hard to keep them that, grooming steadily in anticipation of the Family Day Weekend.  That's been great news for our favourite group of snowmobilers, who have been coming to Bondi every winter for 35 years!

It's not all about riding the trails -- there's plenty of camaraderie and great food, card games and just time spent together.  But it IS about riding the trails, so they really appreciate the work done to keep those in tip top shape.  This year especially, the opportunity to enjoy snowmobiling has been very limited in the southern part of the province, where many trail systems are still closed.  We have been very blessed up here -- trails are open, well groomed, and good to go!  Be sure to check the Club website for up-to-the-day conditions, and do keep in mind that this year, many of the lakes are not at their best, so do be sure that you know the area where you are planning to ride.

It's convenient for our guests that we offer fuel services here at Bondi for our registered guests.  We'll also help you out in a pinch, if you are just passing through.

We also have ample room to park those big trailers that haul the "toys", and you can park your sled right beside the door of your unit.

Saturday is the Dorset Snowball Winter Carnival. Whether you are on a snowmobile or on foot, coming by car or by dog sled, you should be stopping by. It's just a fabulous little village Carnival, with truly something for everyone.

Sunday, starting at 11 a.m. is the ASC BBQ at the Shelter near the Oxtongue Rapids.  Good fun, good company, and yet another reason to get out of the house and onto the trails!

A Spot of Colour

It has been snowing. Fairly consistently.  And no, we did not get the forecast rain mid-week. It threatened. It got very very mild. It caused our skiers some grief with their no-wax skis -- which are perfection itself within a certain temperature range, and stickier than fly-paper when you venture too far out of that. They solved the problem by adding some wax. Amazing what that can do, even for the 'no wax' style .

They provided lovely touches of colour as they slid off through the snowflakes. I wasn't fast enough with the camera to capture them heading off onto the Shortcut trail, but they were kind, and they all stopped to pose for me back at Bondi. They did not spend all their time skiing -- there was a visit to an art gallery as well.  was a visit to an art gallery as well.  Mary Beth, in the bright blue, acquired some Napster notes to take home -- and a framed print that will be auctioned off to benefit the Loyalist Cat Shelter in Prince Edward County later this spring. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chicken Chucking -- a Wales of a Game!

 This sport has become somewhat of a tradition on Bondi Bay in mid-February.

The fine and respected art of "Chicken Chucking" *Note, please, that no chickens are harmed in this sport -- the chucked chicks are stuffy toys, in comfy plastic bags so not even a feather is ruffled. Which is more than can be said for some of the players.

There is a strong Welsh flavour to this crowd -- some of whom are members of the Burlington Welsh Male Chorus.  Teams were divided into Welsh, and Non-Welsh, and the sport of Chicken Curling was a serious affair. You could tell that from the loud laughter, and the score-board etched in the snow.

Luckily, the last thaw/freeze cycle left us with large patches of lovely smooth ice.

Medals were awarded after dinner -- and I am to report that the Non-Welsh team carried off the gold.  Welsh gold, no doubt.   It's a grand bit of fun, and there is something really wonderful about making your own cheer.  So here is a cheer to the sport of Chicken Chucking!  Long may they slide!