Meet Your Hosts: Carolyn Amyotte & Halle & Jeff Ball (August 28, 2005)
At Eels Lake Cottages & Marina we believe that our relaxed and friendly atmosphere and the personal connections with our guests are our greatest strengths. In order to foster that personal connection we thought that it was important that ours guests get to know us a little better. So here goes…
My husband, Jeff Ball is a third generation ‘Eels Laker’. His grandfather’s cottage was one of the first to be built in the late 40’s. Eels Lake Cottages & Marina was known as Armstrong’s Marina during Jeff’s youth, and for many cottagers it was the main access point to get to their properties. Named for longtime owner Reg Armstrong, his well-stocked marina and general store was a hub of activity for the Eels Lake community. Reg gave Jeff his first summer job when he hired the 13 year old as a ‘dock boy’.
It was during this time that Jeff first dreamt that he would run the marina someday. When Jeff was in his late teens and early twenties he worked full-time at Highland View Resort while pursuing his university degree. He quickly demonstrated a natural instinct for this kind of career and was soon helping to manage the operations of this thriving cottage resort.
When Eels Lake Marina went up for sale in 1995 Jeff took the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream and on July 12 at the age of 23, he took over the operations of Eels Lake Marina. Now he didn’t realize it at the time, but Eels Lake Marina was soon to become more than just a marina. With a strong community of cottagers and the opportunities for tourism growth in the area there was no place to go but up. But Jeff couldn’t do it alone. Luckily, fate has a wonderful sense of timing. The following summer Jeff would meet someone that he could share his dream with…me!
I’m originally from Peterborough, ON and I have spent most of my life in that wonderful community. From a young age, I loved people and being in the outdoors. Spending summers and holidays at my grandparents’ wildlife park in Kirkland Lake, ON fulfilled both those desires as well as introducing me to the world of running a small tourism business. I loved the outdoor setting and enjoyed meeting all the different people that came to my grandma and grandpa’s park. The seeds of my future life and career were planted in my heart and soul during those years.
When I finished high school I worked for a couple of environmental organizations and then went on to enroll in Environmental Studies at Trent University. After a year I still wasn’t sure that this was the right path for me, so I did what many ‘twentysomething’ Canadians do…I took time off to travel and work. It was after spending some time out west that I discovered that the seeds of my future had germinated. I headed back to Peterborough and enrolled in the Tourism Management program at Fleming College. My plan was graduate and move on to Fleming’s post-graduate Ecotourism Management program in Haliburton, ON. I figured that once I graduated, no matter where I ended up in the world, I was going to reach my goal of running my own tourism business.
It was the summer before I headed off to Ecotourism, when a resume that I had sent out on a whim was to about to bring me face to face with my destiny. I got a job that summer doing cottage septic inspections on cottage lakes in the Apsley area. It was the last week of July 1996 when my project partner and I were sent to finish off the summer doing inspections on Eels Lake. We stayed in the (then) small and rustic cabin at Eels Lake Marina and I met Jeff for the very first time. There was an instant connection between us and within a year I had finished school and was living and working full-time at marina with Jeff. We took on the demands of running a marina and small cottage resort with enthusiasm, hard work and dedication and we recognized how well our skills and personalities complimented each other and the business.
We were married on September 9, 2000 at our sister resort Highland View located on Rice Lake. We always considered our wedding to be the culmination of our life goals and dreams until the birth of our daughter Halle Shanti on February 2, 2005. We now know that as parents life stories never end but continue to develop and unfold through our children.
With the love, help and support of family and friends and with guests like you, we have continued to expand and grow into a strong, multifaceted business. We feel very fortunate to do what we do, to live where we do, and to be able to share such a beautiful place with all of you. Thanks to all those who are or have been a part of our dream and for those of you that are reading this and have yet to experience Eels Lake, we hope that you have gotten to know us a little better. Maybe we’ll see you around the campfire someday soon.