Text & photos by Nelson Phillips.
Southern Ontario’s Beaver Valley houses a pristine stretch of protected marshland, a bustling whitetail deer population, the meandering Beaver River, and an old relic: a derelict mountain resort formerly known as Talisman.
From the 1960s into the 2000s, the resort was a classic example of small-time Ontario ski royalty, and its bankruptcy in 2009 was both sad and unnerving for the ski community. (Talisman owed the municipality over $2 million in back-taxes and additional millions to creditors.) But there’s hope: a financial defibrillator has recently zapped some life into the 200-acre property. A Toronto development group has purchased the resort and plans to revamp the aging facility into a conference centre and spa. The resort once boasted 100 hotel rooms, a jumpin’ après watering-hole, and a tubing park – as well as one of the best jib parks in Ontario.
Developer Brian Ellis says it’s unlikely the ski lifts will ever run again, and calls them “financially unviable. But we will be using the hills for nature walks, trails and other activities that are enhanced by the natural beauty of the Valley. The hotel will see restaurant renovation, the pool area completely redone, and a new outside dining area for the warmer months of the year.”
Ellis says the overall look and feel of Talisman will remain the same, but through extensive renovations to both exterior and interior spaces. The spa, which will inhabit the old day lodge, will compete with nearby Blue Mountain facilities, and there are reported talks of a potential agreement with neighbouring Beaver Valley Resort to shuttle visitors over for a spot of skiing/boarding.
“We have had some initial meetings with the Beaver Valley Club,” says Ellis. “We are working on a program that benefits both sides and will allow our clients to ski next door at the Club.”
Talisman will also get a new name, which hasn’t been announced yet.
Back in the mid-90s, Talisman introduced me to snowboarding, and it was one of the first resorts in Ontario to allow shredders on its slopes. (They let me in with a plastic Canadian Tire board and Sorels.) When you’re driving by, be sure to give it the proverbial downward nod of respect. There’s snowboard history on those hills.
The developers are aiming to re-launch the resort on Canada Day 2015.