Written by Emily Christie & Caleigh Christie.
Falcon Trails is a family-run resort located at the southeast end of Falcon Lake which welcomes guests year round to enjoy private lake-front cabins with hot tubs, magnificent views, friendly people, and the beauty of the Boreal Forest and Precambrian Shield. It is a perfect mix of wilderness and rustic luxury. Owners and operators Barb Hamilton and Craig Christie first started building the resort in 1996 after teaming up with two other couples; Mike & Yuki Valasman and Rich & Lois Pettit, who worked together to dream up a business proposal of a year round resort which would provide a crutch to the struggling local ski hill. The resort accommodation would allow for visiting skiers to have a place to stay and thus make the ski hill operation a more viable business. Today, the ski hill and the resort operate in tandem and are run solely by Barb, Craig, their three daughters Emily, Caleigh, Brooke, and an amazing host of staff who contribute what has become a vibrant micro-community workplace.
The resort embraces a progressive environmental ethic by striving to reduce their ecological footprint wherever possible. Some of the sustainable initiatives include:
- All Natural Cleaning Products: we use non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products to maintain all our Falcon Trails and High Lake cabins.
- Well-insulated cabin design to save heating energy.
- Passive solar lighting utilizing large windows on the southern wall.
- Cold-water washing with phosphate-free detergent for all laundry.
- Composting and recycling program to minimize household waste.
- Naturally focused landscaping embracing the local habitat.
- Native plant garden.
- Inspiring a love for the environment by getting people outdoors and in the woods!
One initiative that the resort is particularly proud of is the High Lake off-the-grid Eco Cabins which were the winners of the Tourism Manitoba Eco Tourism award in 2003. These four cabins which are located on High Lake, 2.5km from the rest of the resort boast incredible luxury in a very remote and private setting.
- Built using largely reclaimed or local materials.
- ‘Remote Access’ to avoid habitat destruction and to promote sustainable transport alternatives (walking, running, biking, cross country skiing).
- Solar-powered electricity.
- Gravity-fed water supply.
- State-of-the art indoor composting toilets.
The latest two additions to the Eco Cabin rental fleet include a log and straw bale cabin. The log cabin which was built with the help of local swiss log builder Walter Keller is a beautiful, rustic cabin made for couples with a fantastic lookout over the lake, right from the master bed. The straw bale cabin, with an interior timber frame design, is a beautiful example of how an unconventional yet extremely smart and environmentally friendly building technique can also be luxurious and comfortable. Falcon Trails pursues these efforts to respect and sustain the environment for ourselves and future generations to live, work, and play.
In recent years, the resort has become akin to Manitoba’s vibrant music scene. As an intimate live music venue, playing host to many concerts from artists such as Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans, The Crooked Brothers, Red Moon Road, Fish and Bird, Ridley Bent, Scott Nolan, Oh My Darling, the F-Holes, and many more. In addition to this, the resort and its cozy little cabins have acted as recording studios for a handful of albums. To offset the lack of weekend music festivals in the winter Falcon Ridge Ski Hill has recently started hosting the “Snow Dance Music Festival” where people can come out, go skiing for the day and enjoy music workshops all the day through in the comfort of the warm chalet, with a cup of hot chocolate of course!
Clearly Falcon Trails is about more than just cabin rentals. It’s participation in music, outdoor recreation, community, environmental ethic, and hospitality makes for an excellent opportunity for folks to get out and explore, participate and really experience what the Whiteshell has to offer.
Photos by Emily Christie.