Wakomata Shores Resort History

Wakomata Shores ResortArt and Kae Clinton scrimped and saved for a year to buy land from Art’s brother Ed to start Wakomata Shores Resort. Ed had obtained the land through the Veterans Land Act, which sold land at very cheap prices to men coming home from the war. Before they started Wakomata, Kae had been a teacher in the Cummings Lake area, and had lived in Wharncliffe from 1931 to 1939. Art had worked at INCO  and lived in Garson. They married in 1939 and lived in the Wharncliffe area for a few years. They bought the land at Wakomata along with Ted and built their camps, Wakomata Lake and Snowshoe camp. Art and Kae  then moved to Wakomata with  their two-year old daughter, Laura, in June of 1945.

The first year, they built only two cottages – one to live in and one to rent. While the second cabin was being built, Art and Kae lived in a tent so that they could rent out their first cabin. A third cabin was built the next spring. The lumber for all the cabins was bought from the Blind River Bell Lumber Company, who would deliver the lumber as far as the dam on Wakomata. The Clintons then had to take it the rest of the way to their camp either by ice or by boat, depending on the time of year.

Fishermen provided most of the business at Wakomata Shores. They came to the camp to fish and didn’t expect much besides a place to sleep and a boat to fish from. Although there was no American-plan at the camp, Kay would occasionally cook for the groups of fishermen.

Most of the business depended on either word of mouth or people dropping by the camp. Once people cane to the camp, they would hopefully become repeat customers. While some customers would write ahead, most just showed up hoping there was somewhere for them to stay. There were no telephones in the area, with the exception of those used by the Forestry people, so it was practically impossible for people to make reservations.

During the time that they owned the camp, Kae was often left alone to be in charge. Art worked the mail route of the area from 1950 to 1967, so he was on the road 3 days a week. On these days, he would go into town and get any groceries or supplies that were needed at the camp. Because Art was able to do this, Kae rarely needed to go to town. She would often be out at the camp for months on end, having no contact with the outside world except for the guests at the camp.

In 1975 Kae and Art sold the camp, which at that time consisted of 5 cabins and a house, to Norma and Jack Johnson, who had previously lived in Sault Ste. Marie. Jack had been a Crown Life Insurance Representative and Norma had been an Occupation Therapist at the Plummer Hospital. The Johnson’s owned the trading post at Tunnel Lake called “Johnson’s ” before purchasing Wakomata. In 1979, Norma and Jack made many changes to the camp. They moved one of the cottages and attached it to the house, they build 4 more cottages, changed the workshop to a sauna, and built the Dining Lounge. When they built the Dining Lounge they decided to have American plan as well as housekeeping.

From 1977 to 1982, the business at Wakomata Shores came almost entirely from groups traveling from West Germany. A certain German psychologist would arrange for these groups to stay at the camp. Each summer two groups would stay at the camp for a month each. Because of the European practice of swimming or sunbathing nude, Wakomata Shores was rumored for a while to be a nudist camp, as the Germans followed this practice regularly.

As a result of the amount of business generated by these Germans, a great deal of new activities were introduced to Wakomata Shores. These activities included river rafting, scenic tours, regattas and activities each day in the dining lounge. One time Norma and Jack even hired a band to come all the way to the camp just to entertain their guests.

In 1978, Jack and Norma decided to get a radio-phone installed at their camp. The radio-phone meant that they could get in touch with the outside world, but it was very expensive. They had to pay around $200 a month, and that wasn’t including the money spent on phone calls. To make things even more expensive, everyone was long distance, so they had to pay extra for that. They had to get a battery pack, and connected to the tower at Aubrey Falls. Even with all this hassle, however, Jack and Norma decided that it was definitely worth it.

In 1982, Norma and Jack sold the camp to a group of 6 men from Windsor, Ontario. These men ran the camp badly, letting it deteriorate a great deal. When Norm Johnson and Jim Burns bought the camp again in 1988, they made several improvements. These improvements included installing proper docks, fixing up the cabins and building a large garage. They also made a playground for children and bought paddle-boats and surf-sails, improving the camp for families.

In the mid-1990’s Jim and Norma, along with the Iron Bridge Snowmobiling Club, decided to make a snow machine trail from Iron Bridge all the way up to Wakomata Lake. Through a government program they were able to hire 6 people to work for 4 months, so the building of the trail was to everyone’s advantage. Norma and Jim then put in an outdoor hot tub beside the sauna, as their winter business had increased so rapidly that the hot tub had literally become a necessity.

In 1997, Jim and Norma sold Wakomata Shores to Sylvia and Don McMaster, who owned the resort until the spring of 2007 when they sold the Resort to a father and son team, Warren and Mike Townsend.

Warren and Mike over their five year tenure renovated the Cottages giving them all an interior facelift replacing dark panelling with pine boards. They introduced an environmental practices with the addition of low flush toilets and a recycling program. They introduced a kayaking program as well as a bull frog hot tub and a new sauna while cleaning up the sauna and hot tub area. Their purchase of a new Kubota tractor with all the “gadgets” has proven to be an invaluable asset to the resort. They continued the Wakomata practice of providing warm and friendly service to the guests.

In June, 2012, the Townsends’ sold the Resort to Claire and JP Louiseize. Warren and Mike have greatly assisted the new owners and continue to do so, which is much appreciated.