History of Wildwood
In the fall of 1937 and the spring of 1938 Mr. & Mrs. Frank B. Thomas decided to venture into the hospitality field. After several trips & “much looking” they stopped & talked to Ab Cordingley in Wiarton. He directed them to Lot 27, Concession 5 Albermarle Township, situated near Red Bay South and owned by Robert Reid Sr. At that time it was all evergreen bushes. With a strong Welsh determination and a vision (no chain saws in those days) they literally hewed a spot to start a tourist Lodge. They called the first buildings “Hiawatha Lodge” which consisted of what is now #21 Muldoon, #22 Killarney, #23 Kelly Blair and #11 Gay Gordons. The latter being the dining room & #21 the kitchen which was situated to the North and behind Gay Gordons.
The first undertaking was to drill a well behind where the cabin Rob Roy is now. Next was finding and building a location for the Lodge. This took considerable time and effort as the equipment they had to use then was quite different to what we have now. Considering that the underlying layer of ground on most of the Bruce Peninsula is solid rock this was a massive project.
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas operated the Lodge with the help of their son Hugh and daughters Ruby, Grace, and Joy until the spring of 1945. They had 21 cabins by this time, 8 tents and accommodated around 75-90 guests. In these days there were outhouses, oil lamps, wood stoves and a lot less commodities/appliances then we have now. All the cooking was done on the wood stoves and water was heated here also for every purpose – washing dishes, clothes or people. Between 1939 & 1945 the name changed to “Wildwood Lodge” which was felt to be more fitting.
On April 5th 1945, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Thomas Jr. purchased Wildwood from their parents. They had five children: Bill, Marie, Gayle, Victor and Colleen Thomas. Many grandchildren were to follow to carry on with many years of great guests and great food. Victor and Shirley Thomas had 3 children: Warren in 1973, Jeffrey in 1976 and Cory Thomas in 1979.
In the spring of 1979 Wildwood Lodge was sold. Victor and Shirley Thomas had decided it was time to take action and perhaps take some stress off of their parents. The Lodge continued to have returning guests and continuous improvements. Come 1982 there were a lot of surprises one of them being the beginning of “Ladies Fitness Weekends”. Now they are called “Wildwood Women’s Weekend”. The year of 1983 Wildwood moved further up in the world & began construction of a Jacuzzi.
Victor and Shirley had many great years together while their parents Frank & Bessie continued to have a small part of the business. As the y ears of the Lodge flew by many additions and improvements occurred such as a pool, marina, walkways, indoor plumbing, electric heating, tennis court, volleyball court, mini golf, shuffle board, the main Lodge extensions, playground and much more. Mr. & Mrs. Frank Thomas Sr., Mr. & Mrs. Frank Thomas Jr. and Mr. & Mrs. Victor Thomas has made the Lodge more than a business. It was an extension of their family.
In 2006 there was talk of the Lodge perhaps going up for sale. Come the Spring of 2007, Victor’s son Cory had started talking with his Aunt Laurie & Uncle Brian about going into partnership to keep the Lodge in the family. In November 2007, after running the Lodge for the season, Victor sold Wildwood to Cory, Laurie & Brian. Victor, after many years of service decided it was time to retire and the next generation would begin a new era of Wildwood Family Resort.