November 12 is not a day many in Queens County will forget. On that day in 2011, the main lodge at White Point Beach Resort was destroyed by fire.
© Nick Moase Photo
Owner Robert Risley celebrated the reopening of White Point Beach Resort on Nov. 12, with wife Alicia by his side. The lodge was lost to fire in November 2011, but was rebuilt in time for Nova Scotia Music Week.
However there was no question in owner Robert Risley's mind that the lodge would be rebuilt. Not only that, it would be done in slightly less that one year's time and be ready for Nova Scotia Music Week. That goal came true, and on Nov. 8 the lodge welcomed the first visitors since the fire through the door.
One Nov. 12, 2012, the anniversary of the fire was marked by bringing together many of those who had worked on the project to the lodge as a thank you.
A month after the fire, Risley put out a request for proposals to design firms and contractors. He outlined the timeframe and budget for the new lodge. The response was not encouraging.
"It would be impossible to build with that budget, and could easily take two years," he said of the response.
However one stuck out.
"Among those proposals was one from a young architect from WHW Architects who was very familiar with White Point, and partnering with a design firm I have a lot of experience with," he said. "Best of all, they didn't say I was crazy."
The project would not be easy however, and it involved some unconventional processes. To eliminate the typically six month to one year design process, key staff were pulled together along with those who would build the lodge. Over three days, they hashed out ideas and figured out how to make them work.
Ground was broken for the new lodge on April 12.
Nothing ever goes as planned of course, and they hit $200,000 worth of bedrock right from the start. However they pushed through to meet the aggressive schedule.
"The successive seven months were probably the busiest, most hectic, most rewarding and absolutely the most fun I've ever had," said Risley.
Hundreds of tradepeople came through the door, and Risley said the magic of White Point took over.
"From heavy equipment operators who brought carrots for the bunnies and build fences around their nests to protect them, to the drywallers and painters who would stop me and say 'you know Robert, we are going to make it.'"
Don't call it a miracle though. He says it was a result of hard work and determination that got them through.
Using local contractors was important for the build, he said. From Queens County trades people to Blockhouse and Halifax furniture makers, everything that could be sourced locally was done so.
Many eyes were on the build as well. The webcams set up to watch the rebuild reached almost 1 million hits, and came from all over the world.
Opening day came and it was a big one. For Nova Scotia Music Week, the resort was booked, and the lodge was hosting a venue as well as a full service restaurant. It was certainly a test for the lodge, says Risely.
"The contractors walked out and the people walk in. It went amazingly well. There were no problems or hiccups. It was really a flawless opening," said Risley
In total it worked out to almost $7 million invested into the lodge rebuild.