Strathmere’s Historical Roots
For its first hundred years Strathmere was known as “the Phelan farm”, a 400-acre working farm established in 1868 by an Irish immigrant, John Phelan, as the home for his very large family. It became “Strathmere” around 1950 when, for the next 27 years, it was owned by Alex and Eleanor Sim.
The Sims were very active in what was known at the time as ” the personal growth movement” and had acquired Strathmere as the site for a Canadian version of a European folk school. Such schools were established to provide a rural, “back to nature” environment and professional support for those caught up in the stress overload of a modern urban society. At the heart of the growth movement was the belief that a frenetic urban environment was more conducive to debilitating stress than to personal growth. The Sims grew much of their own food, organically, and participants in their programs who wished to do so could work in the fields and gardens.
Recent and Planned Health and Wellness Activities
Since the purchase of Strathmere in 1979, we have sought to create a learning environment optimally conducive to growth. This environment shares certain aspects with what the Sims sought to create, such as the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment — the farmland and meadows augmented by vegetable and herb gardens, our orchard, and the beehives which provide our own honey, all of which contribute to the healthy meals three excellent chefs prepare. We were blessed from the start with our country setting and the wonderfully fresh air that goes with this. What we have done with Strathmere’s original main barn would have gladdened the hearts of the Sims, moreover, because we chose rustic simplicity over modern sophistication in converting it into Strathmere Lodge — and they would have appreciated, similarly, our creation of The Gathering Place with its outdoor stone fireplace and maple log seating.
Going forward, we’ve found an opportunity to provide an expanded base for new health and wellness initiatives by creating the Strathmere Wellness Centre. As the facilities base for the Centre we are building an exciting spa which will contribute powerfully to relaxation and stress-reduction. To complement the spa we plan to convert Strathmere Inn into a full service country inn, and to expand our recreational facilities to incorporate hiking and cross country trails, and a new putting green. To support the new centre professionally, we are entering into association with leading health and wellness consultants and practitioners from the greater Ottawa area, to design and deliver our health and wellness programs and services.