Elmhirst’s Resort

Elmhirst’s Resort is a cottage resort, conference facility and spa with world class dining and activities for the whole family in all 4 seasons.

Our collection of cottages is nestled on the breathtaking shoreline of Rice Lake and an array of outdoor adventures await. Our family offers yours the very best of the Kawarthas — much of it on our very own property. In fact, we raise our own beef, and grow much of what we serve in our lakefront dining room, bringing new meaning to farm-to-table.

Our 240-acre property, passed along from one generation to the next, is cornerstone of the Elmhirst Resort experience. We’re committed to preserving that property for the future — for our family and for yours.

We pride ourselves on environmental sustainability at the resort. In every aspect of our operation, we strive to use resources respectfully, and we’re always looking for new ways to protect — and preserve.

Three generations of the Elmhirst family: (from Left) Mary, Greg, Martina, Ryder, Nadiya, Stephen, Georgia, Peter, Caroline. (Missing: Henry)

Elmhirst’s Resort is about people, building relationships and establishing sustainability.

“It’s not just a business – it’s our life. We hope your stay with us will be the start of a family tradition – creating friendships and wonderful memories for years to come. My parents built a summer-only fishing camp and allowed me to expand Elmhirst into what we have today. I’m pleased my sons are working in the business.  My focus is spent on the farm, flying guests to the wilderness and containing energy costs. I’d be delighted to show you our wood pellet boiler which heats the pools and main building.” –Peter Elmhirst, President

“We invite you and your family to enjoy the natural setting and explore the many possibilities year round at our resort. Having lived here all my life I can’t imagine where I’d rather have my children grow up.” –Greg Elmhirst, General Manager

“Returning to the family business after working as an air traffic controller was a leap of faith….leaving a fast-paced environment for the lakeside resort was scary but amazing – I know the property and I have time to indulge in my passion – kiteboarding.  Arranging weddings and ensuring each one is perfect is a personal goal.” –Stephen Elmhirst

Rice Lake is not without history itself. As part of the Trent Severn Waterway canal system, travel from Rice Lake to Georgian Bay was possible by steamship in the early days. Wild rice was abundant on Rice Lake (harvested by local Indigenous tribes). Today the wild rice still grows on the Indian River, near Keene, but blackbirds feed on the grain before it can be harvested.

Humble Beginnings

In the year 1818, King George IV granted to Phillip James Elmhirst, a lieutenant of the Royal Navy, one thousand acres of Crown Land on the North Shore of Rice Lake as a reward for his efforts against Napoleon in the Battle of Trafalgar. Emigrating from his Lincolnshire, England farm Phillip landed at Port Hope in 1819 and established his new home to the North of the hamlet Villiers.

Frank Elmhirst acquired a a new piece of property, originally known as “the Walker farm” on the edge of Rice Lake on Groundhog Day in 1903. This land, totalling 340 acres with a full mile of scenic shoreline, is the site of the present day resort, with its panoramic view of the lake and its many islands, the location was and continues to be a perfect site for a year round vacation destination.

Frank augmented his farm income by constructing small cabins along the lakeshore and renting them to visiting fishermen anxious to take advantage of Rice Lake’s reputation as an angler’s paradise. When his son Arthur returned from serving as a test pilot in W W II, he took over the property and replaced the cabins with fully equipped cottages. The resort became a full time occupation for Arthur, his wife Mary Belle, and their children Peter and Ruth.


After graduating from Ryerson’s Hotel and Resort Administration program in 1965 Peter returned home to devote his attention to building the business, which he soon purchased from his father. In 1968, the resort opened year round providing four seasons of activity for guests. Today his son, General Manager Greg Elmhirst, also a Ryerson alumni, is at the helm. His wife Martina Linde operates the Spa@Elmhirst and his brother Steve oversees maintenance and delivers memorable weddings. Three generations live on site, and all family members are active in delivering a unique resort experience for our guests.

We believe in genuine family values and hospitality, all with an eye to sustainability for future generations.

….and so the story continues…

Resort Entrance