In 1818, King George IV granted to Phillip James Elmhirst, a lieutenant in 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. Soon after, Phillip emigrated from his farm in Lincolnshire and landed at Port Hope before establishing a homestead just north of Villiers.
Frank Elmhirst acquired a new property, originally known as “The Walker Farm” on the edge of Rice Lake in 1903. This land added 340 acres with 1.6 kilometers of scenic shoreline. It is the site of the resort today. With panoramic views overlooking many islands, the location continues to be a perfect vacation destination for guests. Frank augmented his farm income by constructing small cabins renting them to visiting fishermen anxious to take advantage of the lake’s reputation as an angler’s paradise.
The story continues with his son Arthur Elmhirst. When he returned from serving as a pilot in WWII, Arthur took over the property and replaced the cabins with cottages. From here, the resort became a full time occupation for he and his wife Mary Belle, along with 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 along with his wife Anne Marshall, which they purchased from his father. In 1968, the resort opened year round. Today their son, Greg Elmhirst, also a Ryerson alumnus, is at the helm. His wife Martina operates the Spa@Elmhirst and his brother Steve oversees maintenance and facilitates beautiful weddings. Three generations live on site, and all family members are active in delivering an outstanding experience for guests.
The Elmhirst’s hope your stay with their family will be the start of a tradition for yours – creating friendships and wonderful memories for years to come.
“My parents built a summer fishing camp and allowed me to expand Elmhirst’s into what it is today. I’m pleased that my sons are working in the business. My focus is now spent on the farm, and flying guests into the wild blue yonder.” – Peter Elmhirst, President
“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, but now I have time to indulge in my passion – kiteboarding.” – Stephen Elmhirst