Eleanor and Randy McMahon attended the Interlake Tourism Association AGM in Winnipeg Beach, March 22.
If you build it, they will come. At least that’s what Eleanor and Randy McMahon have had in mind for some time and are now making that dream a reality.
“We always wanted to do something in retirement and always talked about having a bed and breakfast as an option,” said Randy of his now established business, Aaron’s on the Lake Bed and Breakfast. Located in Ponemah, it is just two minutes north of the Village of Dunnottar.
The couple told The Interlake Spectator that when they first bought a small cottage in Ponemah in 2008 they fell in love with the area.
After a few years, the couple began dreaming about what running a bed and breakfast would be like there and in 2013, they took their first real step in the direction of their dream.
Inspiration and mentorship
“We emailed the Manitoba Bed & Breakfast Association and asked if they knew if anyone would consider mentoring us,” Eleanor said.
“Laurel and Rob Sarginson who run Evergreen Gate Bed and Breakfast in Selkirk immediately offered to help us and thanks to them, they guided us to where we are today. We will be forever grateful to them for helping us find our courage to follow this dream of ours.”
The couple bought their current property in Ponemah in September of 2015. Randy retired in April 2016 and has been working on the renovations, full time, since then. Eleanor retired two years later and began helping her husband full time, as well.
They opened their first room on March 17 and will be opening two more rooms in the coming months. Their website describes their location as a “lakefront haven” where folks can take advantage of the activities the surrounding area has to offer such as ice fishing, golfing, beach walks and kayaking.
Eleanor said that, while she was never a decorator, she took on the decoration of the cottage mostly on her own, with occasional suggestions from her husband and her friends.
“Pinterest has proven to be my best friend,” she said. “Almost everything you see in Gardenview has been recycled or up-cycled with the majority coming from thrift stores and reusing the material that we salvaged from the original building.”
The couple grew up in the Teulon area, she in town, he on a farm outside of town. They met when they were 15 and 17, respectively. They moved to Winnipeg for work, she in the court system where she would remain for 30 years, he at Manitoba Hydro where he would retire 32 years later.
They have three children, all now grown, and said they have been dreaming of this moment for many years after traveling over the course of their 40 years together.
“Our life centred around our kids, we traveled a lot before they were born and - we traveled a lot after.” Eleanor said. “The kids always laughed that they were the only people they knew that drove to Mexico.”
“We stayed at quite a few bed and breakfasts as we traveled,” Randy said. “We thought that with a bed and breakfast, we could meet people and keep busy in retirement.”
They hope to attract couples looking for a “staycation”, ladies looking for a girls’ weekend, or gentlemen looking to get away and go fishing.
“We love meeting new people,” Eleanor said. “We’ve had two couples so far. The first couple emailed us long before we were ready to open because they wanted to be our first guests... It was so much fun meeting both of them.”
Janine Le Gal and her partner were the McMahon’s first guests. Le Gal, who hails from Winnipeg, said that she and partner thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet at Aaron’s on the Lake.
“The hosts were hospitable and friendly (and) there were many small mindful touches that made our stay particularly special,” she said.
Some of the small touches included homemade cinnamon rolls, a hand painted welcome sign on the bed with their names on it, freshly chopped wood, matches, and two chairs by the fire pit. Eleanor prepared an “incredible” gluten-free, vegan breakfast to accommodate Le Gal’s dietary needs while preparing a more traditional egg and meat dish for her partner.
“Her version was baked and kind of deluxe, delicious according to my partner,” Le Gal said.
“We only had a one night stay last month but we are eagerly looking forward to a two night weekend stay this month. Also very much looking forward to visiting during the different seasons. I can’t wait to be able to spend more time outside. It’s a gem of a place in a beautiful lakeside setting. A wonderful bed and breakfast experience.”
The McMahon’s said that while it has been a lot of work and lots of trials and tribulations with permits and working with buildings built in the 1920’s, but they are so grateful to be at this point and grateful for all the help they have had. After the other two rooms become available, the McMahon’s will host an open house on June 9 from 1 to 3 p.m.
“There is - such a great feeling of accomplishment when we look at our finished guest cottage,” Eleanor said. “We are also so happy to have been able to restore this heritage property that has such a great history and - share it with others."
Their Gardenview room is being offered at 30% off for the month of April. For more information, visit aaronsonthelake.ca.