Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Park's historic residence greets guests

Former superintendents' home now rents for $950 a night

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AS cottage locations go, it's hard to beat.

A renowned golf course outside one door, a breathtaking lake view outside the other. Not to mentioned it's a heritage building restored to its former glory.

The Superintendent's Residence in Riding Mountain National Park is now available to rent.

The four-bedroom, cottage-style house underwent a massive renovation early this summer after the Clear Lake Golf Course began leasing the property from Parks Canada in early 2011. Elkhorn Resort paid for the restoration and has started renting out the cottage. The historical residence was opened for bookings Aug. 16.

"It's really just an ideal property, because on one side you have the lake and on another, a beautiful golf course. It's really a very special place," said Kris Jordan, a manager at the Elkhorn Resort.

"When we renovated, because it's a historical building, we didn't knock out any of the walls or change any of the interiors.

"But we've modernized the furnishings, added new stainless steel appliances, dining room furniture and living room furniture. Basically, everything you could want is at this place. You just bring your groceries."

The Superintendent's Residence was originally built in 1931, and is hailed as a symbol of the end of Depression-era economic disparity.

The residence was commissioned in 1929 after the federal government authorized the creation of a new park in Manitoba.

The building was erected largely through funds from the government in an effort to create jobs for the epidemic of unemployed workers.

The result was an impressive log structure with a hip roof and long windowed veranda, built to house the park's superintendent.

In recent years, Parks Canada employees have lived in the home. And one of those employees, Don Huisman, took it upon himself to become one of the home's saviours.

Huisman is a former park site manager with Riding Mountain National Park.

The Clear Lake resident said he fell in love with the property on a fateful December night in 1978 when he was invited to a holiday party at the home.

"I just remember looking around at this place thinking 'What do you have to do for a living to live in a place like this?' I made a life choice right then and there. My schooling has been based on that; everything has been based on that," Huisman said.

After working in provincial parks throughout the country, Huisman finally realized his dream of living in the historic home.

He accepted a position as park site manager in 1999 and moved into the Superintendent's Residence.

Huisman eventually moved out in 2005 as he was approaching retirement and knew he wouldn't be able to stay housed in his cherished heritage digs afterward.

Huisman and his wife bought a house nearby, while he kept an eye out for the property.

"I was determined to look after it," Huisman said.

To preserve the home, Huisman helped facilitate a deal between the Clear Lake Golf Course and Parks Canada,

"We just thought, to keep it from dilapidating, let's lease it and renovate it. It's such an incredible, historic property and it looked like a great opportunity for profit," said Jordan.

Today, the Superintendent's Residence is available to rent during the prime summer season for $950 per night and $740 per night and up the rest of the year. The cottage sleeps 11.

Huisman said he hasn't seen the restoration, but will be attending a public open house on Sept 2.

He said he is inviting some of the descendents of the workers who built the residence back in 1931, many of whom still live in the area.

"I'm so excited to get in there again. It'll be like coming home," Huisman said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 25, 2012 A4

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