By: Janet P. Smith
It’s a nippy Friday night in early January. Weather forecasters predict a heavy overnight snowfall, coupled with the risk of freezing rain. Route 148 from Aylmer is barely centre-line clear. Frequent white-outs from drifting snow make visibility limited. Up the line, the wind subsides and the rolling snowpacked Bristol Road glistens in the car’s headlights. As my destination on the shores of the Ottawa River draws nearer, the road becomes increasingly dark, lit only by a waxing crescent moon and a star-studded sky. The surrounding silence is so calming it seems to envelope the soul like a warm blanket.
Soon after leaving River Road, powerful yard lights, as bright as lighthouse beacons atop poles nearly as tall as the nearby pines, signal I’ve arrived. I pull into an expansive, well-plowed parking lot that sits on the same spot where tennis matches were played on a shale court decades ago. Lights glow in the windows of a sprawling three-story log building that’s sits atop a slight hill. As I turn off the car engine, the urge to breathe a sigh of relief feels premature for there’s no telling how this night will end.
My destination is the grand old Pine Lodge of Bristol, a heritage resort that’s been open to tourists since the early 1930s when Charlie Russell’s dream came true and he filled his cozy guest rooms and cabins with holidayers from Montreal and Ottawa. Repeat customers called themselves Pine Lodgers and nicknamed the inn Hotel Splendide, a reflection of the good times had by all. In the early days before the motor car took over, guests arrived by CN train where they were met at the Bristol Station by flat wagons pulled by tractors. Others came up river by paddle steam boat or via the Pontiac Bus Line that had a destination stop at Pine Lodge. Guests came year after year after year to enjoy the private sandy beach, play tennis and golf, ride horseback, bowl a string in the basement alleys, party, dance, and dine. In the mid-40’s, guests were requested to be “on time” for their meals. Fifty cents got you a hearty breakfast and for 60 cents you could eat a home cooked dinner (aka lunch) or supper.
Charlie Russell built Pine Lodge on sweat and hard labour and it’s hoped he had the opportunity to bask in the glory of his achievements. In 1969, Chris and Lois (nee Wright) Thompson purchased the inn and more than 300 acres of land including a long stretch of waterfront and a nine-hole golf course. Forty-five years later, this historic charm of a building, as well as 32 rental cabins and 92 trailers continues to be owned and operated by the Thompsons. Today John and Dawn manage the year-round business with the support of John’s mother Lois and the invaluable assistance of their dedicated sons, Jason and Adam.
Pine Lodge is still heated by burning four to five foot long logs in the original forced hot water furnace located outside the main building. Running the lodge is no doubt a demanding and costly operation that includes continuously upgrading materials like lead-cast plumbing and knob and tube wiring. The Thompsons are diligent, though, about amalgamating the new with the old in order to preserve the allure of another era.
It’s that other era that’s attracted a group of curious visitors on this frosty winter night. They’re neither weary snowmobilers, nor cross-country skiers, or wedding reception guests who’ve come to fill their tummies in a dining room built of logs felled nearly 200 years ago. But they do arrive with numerous heavy cases intent on spending the night exploring rooms that are reminders of days gone by.
There are forces out there we may not understand
Read the rest at www.bytownparanormal.ca
courtesy of http://www.bulletinaylmer.com/en/paranormal-investigators-return-to-pine-lodge/2014/02/06/