Later in the History of
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After years of sitting unattended, most of the structures remain standing, although in various stages of decay. In time, who knows what will happen to the "jewel of the north",,, reputed to have been, at one time, the largest luxury summer resort in the British Commonwealth.
There is however some good news of late, regarding Bigwin Island if not Bigwin Inn itself. Things are looking up because Bigwin Island now has a fully functioning golf course and a renewed interest in real estate development.
Relating to Bigwin Inn itself, sadly, efforts to save "The Pavillion" whose wooden walls resonated with the sounds of all the famous big bands of the 40's, failed. Through the forces of both the wrecking ball and father-time, this glorious structure was brought to it's knees in the last few years. Some of the main structures too have become dangerous to enter, some floors having collapsed.
Having lived on the island for the summers of 1963 and 1964, I played The Bigwin Inn golf course many, many times with my golfing buddy Lou Antonacci, also a member of the band. Man, with it's narrow fairways cut from the forest on the island, more than a few golf balls fell victim to that "fairway-bordering" and very "hungry" forest.
This is the main dining room a long time empty. Notice the sunlight on the floor, streaming through holes in the roof. The small stage on which we played dinner music each evening from 5:00pm to 7:00pm, can be seen on the floor, just left of centre, near the top of this photo. It used to be located by the door you can see at the extreme right of this photo.
In this aerial shot, you can see the main structures of the Inn. It still sort of looks like it did, but under closer scrutiny, you'll notice that the huge floating tent-covered terrace which used to be just outside The Round Room night club (the lower floor of the attached building on the left) is long since gone. It used to join, over the water, the 2 structures, and provide a very large and tent covered area for drinks or lunch by the lake, where you could also park your cruiser.
This is the now empty walkway located just outside the main reception area at the Inn still waiting for those now non-returning guests.
This photo taken a bit earlier and from a higher elevation, shows less of the decay which is now quite evident. You can still see the Inn, the big boathouse to the right and the dock, and the golf course fairways cut from the trees to the left of the Inn and laterally in the forest above the main structures.
When this film was taken, The Pavillion (second building from the right) was still standing, but it's gone now!
Though Bigwin Inn is now, in reality, just a crumbling shell of it's former great presence in Northern Ontario, it still lives large in the minds of those of us who have such fond memories of the great times we spent there, whether as employees or guests.
Bigwin Inn lives forever in our memories as a very special place and time in our lives. It's a shame that people of today cannot experience what those of us who were there then did, when we were lucky enough to spend our summers at Bigwin Inn, in better times.
Thank goodness for memories!
Some information has recently come to me on the current state of Bigwin Inn.
1. The Newly restored Bigwin Island Golf Club won the coveted award from Golf Digest as "Best New Golf Course in Canada" for 2003.
2. The Marine Dining Room is open to the public and boasts a superb menu and dining experience.
3. The Indian Head Room has been restored and hosted a wedding and Big Band event and many parties during the summer of 2003.
4. The Tearoom/Canadiana Renovation - Work began in Sept. 2009 (see below)
Work began in Sept. 2009
You'll recognize the photo to the
right as either the Teahouse or The Canadiana Room, depending on
when you were there. My time there was the summers of
1963 and 1964, so to me it was The Canadiana Room. It was a favourite spot for off-duty staff to meet. It served just what we wanted: good hamburgers, fries and cokes.
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