Nearly a century ago, what is now the Destiny Bay Resort became a special place to relax and unwind. It still is, with its location — midway between Creston and the Kootenay Lake Ferry — offering solitude, and environmentally conscious owners keeping the resort as “green” as possible. In their own way, of course.
“Everyone goes green to be environmentally friendly — we’ve gone red and black,” said Ron Mondor, who owns the resort with his wife, Lynn.
He’s referring to the ladybug artwork and crafts that can be found around the property, a fascination Lynn has carried since childhood, which led to creating a ladybug-themed gift shop in the main lodge — and even the couple’s instantly recognizable red Volkswagen Beetle, complete with black spots.
Environmentally friendly aspects of a more traditional nature are also evident, including cottages with sod roofs, kept well-trimmed by goats and irrigated to provide cooling without air conditioning. Construction around the property uses natural wood materials, and landscaping includes stone pathways and retaining walls, some dating back more than 90 years, and built with rock harvested from the shoreline.
The business venture suited the Saskatchewan couple well — his construction background made him the perfect handyman, and her experience in the hospitality industry, including working for the resort’s previous owners, could keep it running smoothly. Mondor’s duties soon changed, though, when they realized that having the same chef return each summer season would prove to be a challenge — so they hired one near retirement to pass on her knowledge.
“One primary objective was her teaching me how to cook,” said Mondor.
The resort’s restaurant, located on the lodge’s main level that faces Highway 3A, offers a wide range of dishes, including wild salmon and rack of lamb, two of the most popular.
“There are people who come and stay here just for the rack of lamb,” said Mondor.
Dinner and breakfast are included in the room rates, and while the latter is for guests only, the general public is welcome to make a reservation for dinner, an experience that isn’t to be rushed, with some dining for over three hours in the peaceful, rural atmosphere.
“It’s spectacular and quiet,” said Mondor.
This the Mondors’ 22nd season as the owners of the resort, which offers accommodation in five cottages and three suites in the main lodge, a three-story building with the top floor facing onto Highway 3A.
It was originally developed in the late 1920s by Donald and Lil West. He had served in the First World War and was later employed by CP Rail as a chartered accountant in Winnipeg.
“Following a severe illness, Donald was told to move to a milder climate, so in 1928 they became permanent Boswell residents,” says the book Boswell Beginnings. “They slowly developed the property into Destiny Bay Tourist Camp with cabins and a store.”
According to the book, they named the property Destiny Bay after a novel by Donald Byrne, although Lil later told Gray Creek historian Tom Lymbery a different story: “When they moved permanently from Winnipeg to the lake, they felt this was their destiny.”
In the early days, the resort had 16 cabins, which rented for $1-$1.50 a night, and a tennis court. Prior to the highway being constructed along the East Shore, said Mondor, visitors would arrive and depart by sternwheeler, using a rowboat to shuttle from the resort to the larger vessel.
Before the resort was developed into its current incarnation, the highway-level floor of the lodge was a diner. A couple from Germany’s bought the property, cleared off most of the trees and built their retirement home.
When the property inspector arrived to take a look, the owners mentioned they weren’t sure what to do with the lodge building—the inspector reached into his pocket, they told Mondor and handed them a book of matches. But the workers who built the home had another idea, suggesting that the wife, who had been cooking for them, start a restaurant. With that, the Destiny Bay Resort was born and opened in 1982.
They ran it until 1997, when the current owners bought the property, maintaining the resort as a popular Kootenay Lake destination that draws visitors back, often in two-, five- and 10-year cycles, or perhaps for a honeymoon and 25th anniversary. Later this summer, they will host an entire family for a frequent guest’s 90th birthday.
“They usually spend two or three nights, and it’s guaranteed they will come back,” said Mondor. That’s no surprise, considering the resort’s large horseshoe-shaped beach, sauna and equipment for water-based fun, as well as the recently acquired 2 acres across the highway that allow guests to enjoy hiking in the forest.
Also across the highway is Destiny Bay Grocers, which the Mondors bought in 2017 and renovated, now employing three people in the store and two in the post office. The venture has proven successful, with customer service a top priority.
“When they ask for something, we bring it in, and if they keep buying it, we keep bringing it in,” said Mondor.
They’re the most recent in a string of owners who tried to make the store a successful year-round operation — lack of traffic, both tourist and local, can be both financially and emotionally draining.
“Living out here is tough when you’re trying to do it year-round,” he said. “It can get quiet, especially in the winter.”
But for Mondor, there’s no place he’d rather be, enjoying the opportunity to share Kootenay Lake’s beauty with resort guests — and, of course, his dogs, three Newfoundlands and a Saint Bernard.
“Taking them to the lake in the morning, and sitting there while there’s not a sound makes it all worthwhile.
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