Clevelands House History
“So much of my childhood memories are caught up in this place. Coming here was such a big event. To this day the sound of clinking dishes reminds me of Clevelands House. I remember the mornings with the sun glinting off the lake. The openness of the verandah. The uneven floors in the upstairs hall. When I come back with my wife today, I feel I’m getting a chance to show her my life.” – Bob McKenna
Clevelands House History
Over the past 145 years, Muskoka has seen a rich legacy of grand hotels come and go. In the early days of the 20 th Century, hotels dotted the shores of the big and small lakes of the area, drawing people away from the cities during the summer months. Over the course of the era, these hotels slowly disappeared, succumbing to fire, disuse, destruction and corporatization. Today, all of the original hotels have virtually disappeared. That is all but one. Clevelands House, on the western shores of Lake Rosseau, remarkably beat the odds and refused to share the fate of the other grand hotels. The original buildings still exist, seemingly impervious to the ravages of age, but more importantly the magical feeling of contentment and tranquility that once defined the grand hotels of Muskoka can still be felt, over a century later. (from the pages of Clevelands House: The Last Grand Hotel, by Scott Turnbull)
How The Name Originated
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
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.