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Elim Lodge is a nondenominational, evangelical Christian conference and retreat center located in Ontario, Canada. It is situated on Pigeon Lake in the scenic Kawartha Lakes region of Peterborough County, approximately 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the city of Peterborough. It presently operates as a not-for-profit corporation under the legal entity Elim Ministries Inc.
Pearl Arnold and KLBC
Elim Lodge was originally owned and operated by Mrs. Pearl Arnold. Pearl and her husband owned land on Pigeon Lake's Jacob Island, as well as waterfront property on the mainland which included a boathouse and cottage. In 1946, a fire destroyed buildings at the Kawartha Lakes Bible Conference, held each summer in nearby Bobcaygeon. Mrs. Arnold and her husband - himself a member of the KLBC Board of Directors - allowed the conference organizers to use their mainland property for accommodations. Later, a kitchen and dining room were added for KLBC use.
With financial debt mounting, Pearl Arnold began advertising her property as Elim Lodge, a Christian summer resort, in a Toronto newspaper. The name "Elim" is a direct reference to the biblical place of the same name mentioned in Exodus 15:27. According to the passage, the children of Israel are said to have found an oasis in Elim and “camped there near the water” following their exodus from Egypt.
At the end of their first summer operating as both Elim Lodge and KLBC, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold were surprised to find their finances covered, though it was never their intent to continue running the grounds on a permanent basis. They were hoping to sell the mainland property to the KLBC board. To their dismay, the board of directors instead decided to cease using Elim Lodge as a temporary site in 1948, citing distance between the two locations (about 50 kilometers by car) as the reason. The Arnold's secured a loan and further expanded their resort property, adding a chapel for weekly church services. A Christian school was erected in 1954, but it would eventually be replaced by a motel after the school burned down.
In subsequent years, the Arnold's sold some of their north end property to their son and his wife, who used it to establish Arnelle Acres - a neighboring trailer park with a Tuck shop and swimming pool. Arnelle Acres continued to operate for about 10 years, until it was eventually sold and merged with Elim Lodge, being renamed Elim Acres.
The Aldridges and Elim Ministries
The Aldridge family purchased Elim Lodge's 15 acres of land and buildings from the Arnold’s in 1963. The Aldridge’s furthered expansion of the resort included a new well and septic system and a heated pool built near the boathouse apartments in 1971. In 1974, the Aldridge's applied for a permit to add their own seasonal trailer park.
It was about this time that the Aldridge's decided to sell. Members of four Brethren chapels from Peterborough who were familiar with the resort decided to form Elim Ministries - a nonprofit corporation - for the purpose of purchasing Elim Lodge. After the sale, the new trailer park was completed and within a few years Elim Ministries had purchased Arnelle Acres and more shoreline property, expanding the grounds to their current size.
Summer Conference and Off-Season Events
Elim Lodge is presented as an evangelical, nondenominational Christian conference center, although it is most closely associated with the Brethren denomination because of its legal governance and ties to local Brethren chapels. The resort primarily operates for 10 weeks during the summer, concluding on Labour Day weekend. This is known as the “Summer Conference” season. Each conference week consists of daily Christian ministry by guest speakers, missionary representatives and Christian musicians. Speakers may include practicing or retired evangelical pastors or faculty from bible colleges. Formal church services are held twice daily in the chapel, except Saturdays. Other bible-based services or meetings are conducted daily or weekly for adults, youth and children. During the conference weeks, all facilities are open for and geared towards guests and trailer park residents. However the grounds and church services are open to the general public. Summer staff – typically comprised of teenagers and young adults – is employed during the Summer Conference season.
During the off-season, Elim Lodge remains open in limited capacity. Between Labour Day and the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday in October, there are no formal services and most public facilities are not accessible; however trailer park residents may remain. Annually, special event weekends occur on Victoria Day weekend and Thanksgiving weekend, and include formal services with guest speakers and musicians, as well as cottage rentals and public facility access. Other organized events may occur throughout the off-season. The resort will also host a number of Christian retreat groups during this time. Some buildings are not winterized and access to power and water is cut to permanent trailer and transient camp sites between November 1 and May 1.
Grounds and Facilities
Elim Lodge resides on 48 acres of land on the shores of Pigeon Lake, opposite Jacob Island. The main access route is Elim Lodge Road (formally RR #2, Peterborough). Although Elim Lodge Road terminates within the property, the road itself is public property. Other smaller, private roads on the grounds have been named after previous owners including the Arnold's. A number of privately owned cottages can be found along side Elim Lodge property and are only accessible by using Elim Lodge Road.
Rental accommodations include 23 cottages – all names after indigenous trees, 13 (originally 14) motel units, permanent and seasonal apartments and a number of transient trailer and camping sites available for weekly rental. There are 158 permanent trailer sites accessible to residents between May and October of each year.
Other buildings include a600-seat chapel, the “Rustic” (original) chapel, the Manager’s house, the Snackery (formerly the Tuck Shop of Arnelle Acres), a Quonset hut and the main dining room and kitchen. There are two swimming pools and one designated swimming area at the lake in front of the dining room. Elim also operates one of the few public marinas on Pigeon Lake. Lakeside Treasures (formerly the Book Nook) is the resort's gift shop and Christian book store.