Rideau Mac Resort History by Christopher Murfin
Rideau Mac Resort beginnings date back to the 1960’s when the parents of Mike and Diane McNamee started renting part of their farm property to summer campers (tents & trailers).
Over the decades growth included adding hydro, septic tanks and pumping lake water to sites. A motel was built in 1986, which continues to attract Canadian and US fishermen in particular from the state of Pennsylvania.
Going back Further to the 1930’s Mike’s parents (Maurice and Anne McNamee) owned land on the North Shore of the lake opposite RMRA (Tay Valley Township) where they built and rented 7 cottages. Four of these (some renovated as above) still exist as structures where today new homes have been built. The property where Hudson Bay cottages now stand, plus where houses exist further down the private road from RMRA, was all McNamee owned farmland.
The Start of Rideau Mac Resort Association
In early 2006 Rideau Mac Resort Residents were advised that the Mike and Diane McNamee were planning to retire. In addition, land developers had made an offer to purchase the 75 acre camp site, plus the connecting 90 acre farm land where their home was located. The business group planned to close the park within a year and clear the property. At the time about 90 families occupied sites, some having been camping at Rideau Mac for over 25 years. The McNamee preference was to retain the 90 acre parcel and family house so severing and selling the 75 acre campsite only was attractive.
A small group started discussing the idea of purchase (Murfin, James, Zawislak and Coker). They met up with another group of renters (Burns, Pollock and Martel) also discussing options. Together a group of 7 approached the members and the McNamee family with a plan to take over Rideau Mac. A presentation by the transition team, as it was called then, to the McNamee’s and site renters was approved and the Not-for-Profit Ontario Corporation named RMRA was formed in 2006.
After many work hours and investigation it was agreed that a 5 year lease, with option to purchase at a fixed price, was the best route. The lease was a wise move as issues such as applying for new and updated permits, zoning changes, environmental study requirements, potable water upgrades, septic permits, Township and local neighbor issues, and not to mention funding from members all surfaced as being critical components required to complete a successful purchase.
Three years into the five year lease the member operated Association purchased the land, motel, and all rights concerning Rideau Mac Resort. Over the period the membership spent well over $100,000 plus countless volunteer hours were donated by the families to reach the dream of ownership.
The Association members were extremely fortunate to have the full and very kind support of the McNamee family, of which without Rideau Mac would not have survived. The McNamee’s were close to the members, long term friendships existed, and it is sad to note that Mike McNamee passed away suddenly during the lease term, and wife Diane McNamee passed shortly before the final purchase took place. Their memories live on though. The Association selected a shoreline area, marked it with a tree and seating, where a stone has been placed with their names engraved. The house on the main road #1129 as you turn into the community is where Mike and Diane lived, and now occupied by the son Peter McNamee. Perth Lawyer Scott Hughes, son-in-law & McNamee family legal counsel, provided much appreciated support numerous times to the Association during a very complex business process. Martin Vervoort was legal counsel for RMRA, whom also deserves praise for his professionalism and dedication to the families of Rideau Mac. Mark Snider of McIntosh Perry consulting engineers provided excellent service in the critical areas of planning, re zoning, environmental studies and alike. Finally, to our many USA and Canadian motel guests that have returned faithfully for decades, our deep appreciation.
Families enjoy rolling up their sleeves every season to service and improve the Resort property. Since 2006 members have donated literally 1000’s of hours and funding to upgrade the motel including décor, paint, appliances, beds (ex. Chateau Laurier), exterior decking and more.
The volleyball court, children’s play area and sandy beach upgrades, landscaping, new main docking, two new wells, and new electrical services are some of our major projects. Strength in numbers, perseverance, love and dedication is how we got here, and we continue to enrich our site.
The Rideau Mac Resort Association is run on behalf of the 91 Members (who lease sites yearly) by a volunteer Board of Directors as a not-for-profit business. Members approve an annual budget that covers all costs of managing and maintaining the campground.
The long term consistent management of the campground is critical, from both a business and social perspective. The elected RMRA Board act as custodians/managers of the interests of the members and oversee the business as a whole.
Rear(L-R) Scott Bryce, Scott Edelman, Wes Clark, Maurice Bouchard
Front(L-R) Marc Belair, Chris Murfin, Claudette Langdon, Phil Zahab