When Charles Minett ordered up the hotel’s first register in 1883, he asked the printer to label it Cleeve Lands, after his birthplace in England. The printer mistakenly changed the name to Clevelands, and it was never corrected.
Charles Minett came to Muskoka in 1869 and built a log cabin where the present North Lodge stands. They soon outgrew this structure and built a frame house that expanded into the main hotel as tourists discovered the Minett hospitality. Charles’ apprenticeship in the carpentry trade stood him in good stead in the new land, and when the tasks of homesteading were in order, he set up a boat building enterprise.
In the early days, the lake provided the only reliable means of transportation in Muskoka. When it came time to add a third storey to Clevelands House, Charles Minett selected a design with a mansard roof and octagonal tower, because he wanted his hotel to look like a ship, as all his guests came by steamboat.
During the years 1869 to 1953 Clevelands House was operated by the Minett Family. It passed from father, Charles Minett, to his son Seymour Arthur in 1902 who successfully operated the hotel for 51 years. In 1953 Ted and Laura Wright purchased the hotel and operated it for another sixteen years.(from the pages of Clevelands House: The Last Grand Hotel, by Scott Turnbull)
The Cornell Family
However, 1945 seemed to be an important year at Clevelands House. It was the year that Bob Cornell was first introduced to the resort as a guest with his parents. Four years later he was hired as a bellhop and when Ted and Laura Wright purchased the hotel in 1953, Bob Cornell became manager. In 1969 Bob and Fran Cornell became the new owners of Clevelands House which accommodated up to 150 guests at that time. Between 1969 and 2007, the Cornell family continued a tradition of excellence in providing the best in summer vacations in Muskoka before making the tough decision to sell the resort to its 4th and current owner Ken Fowler.
Once Clevelands House was sold in 2007, the Cornell family continued to be an important part of the resort operation seeing it through its transition in ownership. Remaining very close friends of the resort, the Cornell family officially said their final goodbyes in the summer of 2011.
Today, Clevelands House is committed to maintaining the incredible dedication to its guests that was once so important to the Minett, Wright, and Cornell families and continues to look to the future, reinventing itself with the changing guest expectations and still maintaining the historic charm and Muskoka atmosphere it has always been known for.