This was a decision of the heart.
I first visited The Opinicon as a kid, when we’d make daily pilgrimages to the resort from a neighbour’s cottage on Newboro Lake to visit the ice cream shop. I had such strong memories of those long summer days that my husband Tobi and I ended up getting our own slice of heaven in the area and once again took up the tradition of taking boat trips down to The Opinicon for dinner, eventually adding our kids to the crew.
Unfortunately, that tradition ended in 2012 when the old resort was shuttered. It was a sad moment for all of us. I remember wondering what was going to happen to the idyllic destination.
Two years later, I found myself staring at a photo of The Opinicon on an auction house website where it had been listed for sale. Like everyone else, I was intensely curious, desperately hoping someone would bring the beautiful old resort back to life. It deserved a chance to shine again.
That’s when we started fantasizing about what we’d do with the place if it were ours. We actually went as far as organizing a viewing and trekking the family out to Chaffey’s Lock to see it. I remember how eerie it felt to be wandering around the shuttered property, but it was clear to me how much magic still lurked behind all the dust and ancient carpeting. I also remember thinking that it would require a mountain of work.
In order to get a better lay of the land, we reached out to the people who used to work at The Opinicon, as well as to those who could tell us more about the unique history of the resort and surrounding area. What struck us most was how passionate people were about The Opinicon, and it didn’t take long for their enthusiasm to start rubbing off on us: we soon found ourselves seriously considering putting in a bid.
At 1:37pm on December 11, 2014 I got a call from the estate agents. “Congratulations, it’s yours,” they said, explaining that while it had been a close call, we were the successful bidders. Immensely pregnant at the time, Tobi thought I was going into labour when I called him, slightly in shock, to share the news.
Needless to say, it’s been a remarkable ride. I’ve had to learn so much over the last couple of years and am immensely grateful to the many people who have supported us through a period of extensive – sometimes truly daunting – renovations. We’ve worked really hard to renovate and modernize The Opinicon while preserving the qualities that have made this place such a special one for some many people.
The Opinicon now employs over 100 people, most of them local, including some who worked for the resort before it closed. We’ve still got work to do, but we’ve come an awfully long way in the last few years. It’s meant so much to me to know that those of you who loved The Opinicon as I did are coming to visit again and that you’re happy with the progress we’ve made. It’s also a thrill to know how many others have just started building memories with us. You’re all part of the story.
Thanks again for your support.
Fiona McKean, Owner
The Opinicon Resort & Dining