A Perfect Family Retreat in the North – Presidents' Suites

This past summer I got engaged to the woman I love. We were at a family cottage and in the early morning of our last day there, I proposed—in bed, on the floor of the moldy old basement where we were sleeping. The cottage was pretty full with relatives so we had to make do with the basement, and it didn’t bother us. I just knew I wanted to propose before we left so we could share the moment with her family.  We did share it with them and it was a super happy fun day and I wouldn’t do a damn thing differently.

But I also knew that we needed to properly celebrate this in a more…suitable setting. So when we headed up to Temiskaming Shores the next day to drop off a friend's boat, we stayed at a place I’d heard of but hadn’t even seen before – the “Lumber Baron's House,” which is part of the Presidents’ Suites family of historic homes in Haileybury. 

The place was highly recommended. Now I’ve stayed at hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts all over North America and I am not easily impressed. I had to pull out all the stops to make up for proposing on a foam mattress wedged between a dilapidated couch and the frame of a dysfunctional bunk bed.

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From the moment we walked through the door, we both knew we’d come to the right place. As our hosts Nicole and Jocelyn gave us a tour, it became obvious that this place would exceed our highest hopes for the perfect romantic getaway. 

The Lumber Baron’s house was built just after the turn of the century and showcases the kind of wealth that was found in this area at the time. Mining and forestry made many men rich, and the layout of this home shows it. 

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There are three large bedrooms, and two bathrooms (one as an en-suite), and a massive living room with a big screen TV, fireplace, cozy colour-coordinated couches, armchairs, and bar-style seating. The kitchen is enormous—you could just imagine how fun it would be to prepare large family meals there. And there’s a big dining room as well as a kitchen table. Everything is designed to look and feel relaxed and cozy while remaining supremely classy.

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But what takes this place from a relic of a bygone era to a five-star accommodation is Jocelyn and Nicole’s attention to the details. Every conceivable piece of kitchenware is in the kitchen. The television is perfect and fuss-free—you don’t have to fiddle with remotes. The fridge is big and the dishwasher gets the dishes done in 2 minutes (super useful if you have large groups).

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The expansive front porch made us think of southern plantation houses, and of all the fun we could have if our families were with us. 

After our tour, Nicole and Jocelyn left us to enjoy the place. We headed into town for groceries—I was going to cook dinner for my fiancée. This Region is well known for its local produce so we picked up some good steaks at Yves Prime Cut Meats and grilled them and some asparagus on the big BBQ on the back porch. We drank a delicious white wine from the local LCBO (pre-chilled, thank you) and jumped in the hot tub before turning in for the night. 

The fresh pastries delivered to the kitchen in the morning, without waking us, told us exactly how committed the hosts are to making sure we have the best time imaginable. 

So why would I call this the perfect family retreat? Because after spending an afternoon, evening, and morning there, all we could think of was how much we wanted to bring our families with us to experience this charming place together the very next summer.

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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