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Vintage Golf Getaways

Fern Resort.

Fern Resort is the quintessential family vacation. The diversity of social activities and entertainment reminds one of the movie Dirty Dancing (minus the underground staff dance parties; to the best of our knowledge). Fern Resort, a family venture since 1895, is home to the shortest golf course in operating in Ontario. 
The Story of Fern Resort:


Once upon a time (in the late 1800’s) a hermit lived in a cabin built on fern covered rocks. Sometime shortly before 1895, the hermit in the “Fern Cottage” died, and the McBain family moved in and built a home. The McBain’s sheltered and fed travelers, operating as a free turn of the century B&B. Such generosity fostered loyalty, notoriety, and ultimately a business. The family began renting the children’s bedrooms for $6 a week. 

Understandably, the McBain kids didn’t particularly enjoy the tradeoffs of the family business, and urged their parents to sell the setup. Relenting, the property was transferred to James and Mimi Pettapiece, and their three children, Gwen, Ross and Ola-Mae.

James first business decision in 1919 was the creation of the golf course. With nothing but a cow pasture and his horse Niagara (aptly named as the horse was old and always falling down); he spent five years burrowing through fern covered rocks until the crude form of a golf course took place. 

The Pettapiece’s daughter Gwen married George (Bert) Bertyl Rumble in 1928, and the Rumbles became the next generation to run Fern Resort. In 1958, their daughter Mary Lou married Robert Downing. Now it is their son Mark Downing, current VP of Operations, who is guiding us through the different buildings, explaining just what Fern Resort is all about. “We set a relaxed atmosphere,” explained Downing, “Where a community is built.”

Meals are at set times, and the activities throughout the day are age specific. “It’s loosely structured but we offer a lot of activities.” A summery lineup would include waterski shows and instructions, golf, three pools and a beach, fishing cruises, tennis, archery, batting cage, art lessons and wine tasting. Some of the activities have small nominal fees to them, but many are free, including the golf course. Note: These are just some of the activities. 


Vintage Touches:


The main building was built in the sixties, and a fire two winters ago forced owners to gut the first floor, said Downing. The old world feel was retained in the rebuild.  A stroll through the dining room offers a glimpse into the family photo album, a history of a business passed down through generations of women. Management is in the process of updating several of the rooms. This resort may belong to the century club, but its décor has followed the route of modernization. However, the soft floral touches common to northern resorts are there.


Where to Play:


Indubitably dubbed “The Fabulous Fern Five”, this little golf course can pack big fun. Two of the five par 3’s run beside Lake Couchiching. Organized tournaments and games that require just one club are golf at its silliest, often just what a vacation calls for. If you’re looking for a full day on the links, there are several solid and affordable golf courses nearby: Hawk Ridge G&CC, Lake St. George GC, Couchiching G&CC and Bonaire G&CC.


Fern Resort

4432 Fern Resort,


Orillia, L3V 6H5




































Boyne Alpine

Having fun


Boyne Alpine

The pool


Hawkridge: Hawk's Island