Minaki Lodge

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Minaki Lodge in 1929

Minaki Lodge (/mɪˈnæki/ mi-NAK-ee), formerly part of the chain of Canadian National Hotels, was originally built in 1914 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTPR).[1] Located on the route of the National Transcontinental Railway (NTR) at Minaki, Ontario, between Sioux Lookout and Winnipeg, where the railway crosses the Winnipeg River, this rustic resort hotel named Minaki Lodge and the railway station also called Minaki, is an Ojibwa word that has been variously translated as Beautiful Water or Good Land.[2]

The NTR and GTPR went bankrupt and were nationalized as part of the Canadian National Railways. CNR president Sir Henry Thornton rebuilt the hotel on a more lavish scale, but it burned down as it was about to open in 1925.[1] Undaunted, he rebuilt it on an even more lavish scale using Scottish stonemasons, Swedish lot cutters and English gardeners to build and landscape a soaring granite and log building that opened in 1927. Thirty trainloads of soil were brought from a farm in Manitoba to build a golf course on the rock of the Canadian Shield.

Minaki Lodge remained a luxurious resort until after the Second World War, but travel patterns changed and the railway, emphasizing freight and no longer interested in attracting passenger traffic, sold it in the early 1950s. Over the next 50 years the hotel passed through many hands and many renovations. The Ontario government owned it for some years and spent an estimated $50-million on upgrading it, only to sell it to a hotel chain for $4-million. The Conservative government that spent most of the money called the resort The Jewel of the North. Opposition Liberal and New Democratic Party politicians called it a boondoggle and a sinkhole. Owners since then have included a nearby Indian band, a Texan speculator and a Calgary, Alberta, real estate developer. The main building, which was not insured, burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in October, 2003,[1] and the resort has not operated since. The resort's 9-hole golf course has been tended only sporadically in recent years.

In 2012, former Manitoba cabinet minister Bob Banman and real estate developer Bob Schinkel submitted a plan to redevelop the former site of the lodge as condominium apartments and individually-owned cottages. The local cottagers' association opposes the development, expressing concerns about the project's sewage treatment facilities.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Minaki Lodge has a checkered past". Winnipeg Free Press. October 14, 2003. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  2. ^ Maksymchuk, Andrew F (2008). From Muskeg to Murder: Memories Of Policing Ontario's Northwest. pp. 156–7. ISBN 142693534X. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  3. ^ "'Local boys' plan cottages for Minaki Lodge". Winnipeg Free Press. December 20, 2012. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  • Historic lodge uninsured, The Globe and Mail, Oct 14, 2003, Lavish lodge was product of grand dreams, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Oct 13, 2003.
  • The mystery of Minaki, The Globe and Mail editorial, Jan 9, 1986
  • $48 million later Minaki Lodge is open, The Globe and Mail, July 16, 1983
  • Can't sell it, Ontario to renovate its white elephant, The Globe and Mail, July 6, 1978