By Chad Ingram
Published Sept. 7, 2017
Ghosts are real.
There are a number of them in Haliburton County, hiding in plain sight. They really aren’t difficult to find, often lurking around the shores of lakes.
One sits silently along Highway 35, at the nexus of Twelve Mile and Mountain lakes. Darkened windows and peeling paint, buildings beginning to dilapidate.
Another, perhaps the county’s most famous, still stands watch over Lake Kashagawigamog, a silent leviathan.
At the peak of the resort era, a half-century or more ago now, there were well over a dozen resorts and lodges on Lake Kashagawigamog alone. Dozens more dotted the county. Now, but a proverbial handful remain.
The way many families vacation has changed substantially since the resort heyday, when the same families would go to the same resorts during the same weeks of each summer, often catching up with other families who did the same thing. While that tradition may continue at some of the county’s remaining resorts, it’s one that has largely died out.
Like so many other industries, the resort industry has been impacted by the Internet and globalization during the past couple of decades. It’s now possible to take your family of four on a weeklong, all-inclusive trip to the Caribbean for virtually the same price as spending a week in the Haliburton Highlands.
In more recent years, the rise of the sharing economy and websites such as Airbnb have further dissipated lodge culture, as many families opt for the privacy and flexible pricing of renting cottages owned by other families.
While some of the community’s remaining resorts will continue to operate for decades to come, the grand resort era that built the county’s tourism economy during the first half of the 20th century is over forever.
Most of the defunct resorts sit on prime, waterfront property and it is likely that in coming years, as more and more people retire to the community, those sites will be redeveloped into condominiums and subdivisions.
For now, these silent giants simply sit, decades of bustling summers belied by their overgrown lawns and fading facades.
If you drive by at dusk, you can almost hear them calling out.