If it wasn’t bad enough that the northwestern Ontario tourism industry over the last two years has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now the current weather conditions are causing a problem.
A long-winded winter, that brought over 300 cm of snow, and the current weather conditions, have caused lakes in the area to thaw slower than in years past. The current conditions have forced one local resort owner to push back his opening date a few weeks.
Ted Putnam, Owner of Hawk Lake Lodge, which is 20 minutes east of Kenora, says that the current ice conditions have forced him to push some guest reservations back.
“We definitely have a lot of people that are either pushing back a little bit or have back-up reservations later in the spring or summer,” says Putnam. “I really don’t see it happening, it’s going to be very close, if it happens at all, in terms of opening up on May long [weekend].”
He mentioned, that the current thickness of the ice on Hawk Lake is anywhere from 22-30 inches, which he said at this point is a lot of ice. His first group of guests was expected to arrive on May 18, 2022.
Though it's been a long three years for some guests to get back to NWO due to COVID-19, and now some are forced to wait a little longer, Putnam says they are still excited to get back into the region.
“They’re excited to finally get up to Canada and sunset country, they’ve been waiting a long time so there’s a lot of excitement out there. They’ve gone through a lot and they see the finish line, we’ll get there.”
He recognized about a month ago that opening may become difficult due to the conditions, and then immediately was proactive in contacting guests to push back reservations.
If the ice thickness, and pushing back some reservations wasn’t bad enough, Putnam and his staff can’t even get into his resort, never mind welcoming guests.
“I’ve got five-foot snowdrifts, I just hired someone to plow my driveway, and he went down there and said there was two feet of snow in my driveway,” says Putnam
“It’s kind of hard to open up all your lakes, and put boats and docks in the water when you have 28 inches of ice, it’s causing a lot of problems. I have my chef flying in and people driving in from all over the country to start working for me in a week, I’m not really sure what we’re going to be doing, we’re going to be shoveling a lot of snow.”
This winter has been unusual, to say the least, as the area has received 305.8 cm of snow from October 2021 to April 29, 2022.
This time last year Putnam says the conditions were a lot more favourable, and accommodating compared to this year.