A friendly pitstop and truly vital connecting point within a fabulous riding area in the rugged Ontario outback is again in jeopardy and in need of help – both in terms of staffing and financing.
The Halfway Haven – located about halfway between Searchmont and Wawa in a particularly rural stretch of Ontario above Sault Ste. Marie – has long been a welcoming place for snowmobilers to grab some food and fellowship, and now even has some lodging.
Perhaps more importantly for traveling snwomobilers, though, is that it truly is the only place to get gas in a 150-mile stretch – meaning without it being open, most sledders wouldn’t be able to connect through the area without strapping extra fuel onto their snowmobile’s tunnel and still conserving fuel as best they can.
Its remote location is what make it so valuable to some, but also so difficult to run as a business. Several times over its 23-year history it has reached a breaking point – and more recently it was saved about six years ago when it was purchased by a group out of Michigan.
The stresses of a COVID winter closed the international border and thus limited tourism, plus a key retirement, though, has again put the joint in jeopardy. The place needs folks who are willing to live on-site to run it, and also some help in raising capital.
On April 30, the Halfway Haven posted the following on its Facebook page: “After 23 wonderful operational years it is with a heavy heart that we announce that Halfway Haven will not re-open for the upcoming seasons.
“The peace of mind that comes from being in the wild, and soul rejuvenation that remoteness brings our guests is the reason Halfway exists. That remoteness is also the largest factor in her struggle to survive,” the post continued.
“It has always taken operators that act as owners to staff and run Halfway and finding the right people who understand her needs has been difficult. Our last operators Kym and Rory originally planned to help us for a couple of weeks and were kind enough to carry us through a couple of years with all the difficulties that the COVID19 pandemic brought us last season. We are eternally grateful for their commitment to stay much longer than expected and understand their desire to begin to enjoy retirement,” it said.
“For over a year we have been feverishly attempting to recruit the next operators at Halfway Haven. We have not been able to retain the right people despite our best efforts. We are still looking and have not given up, but lack of operators is the primary reason Halfway is not going to re-open for now. We are still searching for the right persons, or couple who view the running of a remote camp as a life calling. If you know those people, or if you are those people, please reach out to us!”
Aside from the personnel issue, though, is a financial reality, the post stated.
“The issue of forced closure for most of the last year prevented us from building the financial surplus necessary to sustain. Each busy season in the life of Halfway helps fund the ‘in between’ seasons and keep the bills paid during the slower and shut down months. As we stand together staring at the looming financial burden the remote operation of Halfway requires to serve her guests, we are all but certain that her future, with continued COVID restrictions in place, border closure, staff unavailability, and declining infrastructure – is ending,” the post stated.
“And still, we maintain hope, although diminishing due to the circumstances out of our control. We saw this day coming but are very determined and not giving up. We made critical connections this past season with people working in governmental matching grant programs which could provide the funding necessary to rebuild and sustain Halfway Haven operationally – now and into the future. Strong assurances were given that matching capital is available. However, to pursue these programs properly will take enormous amounts of time and determination which cannot be applied if we are working in the camp, attempting to serve a governmentally restricted and limited number of guests,” the post said.
“So here we find ourselves, a place where we never thought we would be – our hands tied, our available resources consumed, and time quickly running out on Halfway Haven. We have no choice but to call on friends and acquaintances, many of whom became family over all these past decades, to help with fundraising to raise capital to be able to take advantage of the governmental matching grant programs. If you, or anyone you know, has an interest in donation, private investment, sources for public investment, or any type of public or private partnership, so that Halfway can have a tomorrow, please contact us today. Our Facebook page will remain active for contact purposes, or you can reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (705) 812-1671,” it stated.
“Lastly, and most importantly, it has been our pleasure to serve you, our family, at Halfway Haven. Those who belong, know exactly how sacred the spirit of Halfway Haven is and we pray that spirit is not extinguished.”
The Soo Today website also ran a story based on the resort’s situation that is definitely worth the read.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.