19.2 C
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
History Unveiled: Today, Shalamar thrives as Vine Ridge Resort



Last in a series

In 2013, Shalamar became Vine Ridge Resort.

It is now owned by Keith Turner, who also operates the Olde Angel Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake's Old Town.

Instead of camping in tents or vans, the site now houses 240 plots of land for mobile homes. Each one is privately owned, although the owners can only stay at the resort for 90 consecutive days.

General manager Laura Beck says the resort is not intended for permanent residency. The Vine Ridge season runs from May 1 to Oct. 31.

Vine Ridge has been described as “a world away from everything" and although most owners live in the Greater Toronto Area, some come from the United States and other southwestern Ontario locations.

Indeed, there is a contingent of owners from the Niagara region, including Niagara-on-the-Lake itself.

Residents vary in age from infants to great-grandparents. While people come for all that Niagara has to offer, many stay close to the village during their stay. There are bicycles and movies to rent.

Besides the former Shalamar pool, the resort boasts a salt water swimming pool, a multipurpose court for games such as tennis and basketball, a children’s play area and a volleyball court.

There is a small canteen that sells milk, eggs and other necessities as well as souvenir T-shirts and ball caps. During the summer, local fruits and other produce is available.

The resort also holds talent nights and musical events. Last July 1, the Canada Day fireworks outdid those in Niagara Falls.

In the early days of Vine Ridge’s existence there were issues for the village of Queenston.

At one point, sewage was being dumped into the local drainage system – and it smelled. That was resolved when a new system was installed. There was also concern in the village about noise. In fact, this came to nothing. The riverside bar in Lewiston, N.Y., is far noisier and often goes late into the evening.

Vine Ridge Resort doesn’t issue day passes. As a result, it stands somewhat apart from Queenston itself.

But Beck says plans include inviting Queenstonians to sample the treats in the resort's ice cream shop. Locals can also buy staples such as milk and bread at the convenience store.

For Cynthia Sheppard, whose family started Shalamar in the 1960s, the resort may have changed over the decades, but a visit there last year brought back a flood of fond memories.

"We walked the property marvelling at the trees, recognizing all the brick buildings existing as they always have, nodding in the direction of the pool, touring through one of the fabulous mobile homes, and enjoying our ice cream cones as we took in the sights and smells of the Niagara escarpment on a beautiful summer evening. It doesn’t get any better.”

Read parts 1 and 2 of the series at