Port Cunnington History
We realized resorts were changing in character due to real estate trends. To me, the most important thing was preserving a way of life that’s unique to Muskoka. – Jack Wadsworth, former Morgan Stanley Chairman and owner of Port Cunnington Lodge
To tell the history of Port Cunnington Lodge is to tell the story of two families. The history of the lodge begins with the founder Boyce Henry Cunnington and stretches back over 120 years. Established in 1890, Port Cunnington Lodge is one of the oldest Ontario resorts in Muskoka operating under its original name.
Boyce Henry Cunnington, a young 14 year old orphaned boy, came to Canada in search of adventure. After spending several years working as a homeboy on a farm near Mayfield, Ontario, Boyce Henry moved north to an area being opened for settlement. Land grants were given to newcomers and Boyce Henry was keen to turn the soil and start a farm and family of his own.
In 1886, Mr. Cunnington purchased the Main Lodge property from Mr. Parkin, a homeopathic doctor. It was at this time the location was named “Port Cunnington” by an Italian Opera singer Madame Maroni. Much to the disappointment of many, Muskoka was not suitable for farming and other means of livelihood had to be found for the growing family. It was at this time; Boyce Henry realized that tired city people looked to visit the area in search of peace and bask in nature’s hardly rivaled beauty. Port Cunnington Lodge began in a modest way, but more rooms had to be added to the family home to accommodate the growing business. Soon after, cottage rentals were built until eventually seventy-five guests could be looked after.
Over the years, the responsibility of the Lodge operations would continue with the help of Boyce Henry’s son, Charlie Cunnington and his wife Nellie and even passed along the lines with their children contributing to the business. To this day, the Loader family, descendents of Boyce Henry himself continue to look after the daily operations of the beautiful historic peace of heaven in Muskoka.
Near the same time as Boyce Henry was establishing Port Cunnington Lodge, the Wadsworth family was establishing a long standing family tradition at nearby Deerhurst resort. Originally from Kentucky, the Wadsworth family would look to Muskoka for their annual summer vacation together. Each year generations would gather on Pen Lake to enjoy everything Muskoka has to offer, a tradition that continues to this day. During the 1970’s a big expansion would change the once quaint Deerhurst resort into a much larger venue than the Wadsworths were looking for in the annual gathering. It was around this time, that Jack Wadsworth approached the extended family with a plan. The plan was to buy a nearby resort that would serve as home to their cherished family tradition. And so, in 1989 the Wadsworth family purchased Port Cunnington Lodge. Soon following, further development and additional land acquisitions would turn Port Cunnington into the special place it is today. It is with the vision of Jack Wadsworth and the commitment of Boyce Henry’s descendents that Port Cunnington Lodge continues to thrive and welcome guests in the tradition that would make their forefathers proud.
In 2015, Port Cunnington Lodge celebrates its 125th anniversary of providing exceptional Muskoka hospitality. Today, Port Cunnington guests still enjoy the same old world-charm, lovely natural lakefront setting, and warm and attentive service that have kept people coming back again and again. While we have kept all of the qualities that have made Port Cunnington Lodge a favorite Muskoka resort for generations of vacationers, we also continue to make improvements and upgrades to the lodge, to provide for today’s guests all the comfort and amenities that they would expect to find at a landmark Muskoka resort.